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Asean, EU urged to sustain economic growth

Publication Date : 02-05-2012

 

Asean and EU nations who are members of the G20 grouping should jointly enforce agreements endorsed at the previous G20 Summit, including the reform of financial institutions and other development issues towards balanced and sustained economic growth.

The comment was made by Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Thongloun Sisoulith while attending the 19th Asean-EU Ministerial Meeting held in Seri Begawan, Brunei, recently.

Thongloun said that despite signs of recovery in the global economy, the situation remained uncertain. This required joint efforts on the part of Asean and EU nations to implement previously approved agreements, which were key to sustaining growth.

During the meeting, Asean and EU leaders reviewed the implementation of their cooperation activities over the past 35 years. Several sectors were noted to have made satisfactory progress, particularly in trade.

The EU is Asean's second largest trading partner with US$208 billion of trade in goods and services in 2010, while Asean is the EU's third largest trading partner. The value of EU investment in Asean has reached US$230 billion.

The two regional blocs are committed to strengthening their cooperation in priority areas agreed upon by the two sides, according to a press release from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The EU is committed to assist Asean until 2016 in the areas of regional integration, Asean-EU economic partnership, intellectual property, air transport integration, and capacity building regarding statistics and social cooperation, estimated to be worth more than 41 million euros.

Of this amount, 20 million euros will be used for two programmes involving regional integration and Asean-EU negotiating mechanisms.

The meeting also discussed regional and international issues of shared interest including the situation in the Middle East, North Africa, Iran and Afghanistan, as well as the global economy, food and energy security, climate change and the environment.

The EU informed the meeting about the lifting of some of its sanctions on Myanmar, while Asean urged the EU to totally lift the sanctions imposed on the country.

The leaders also endorsed an Asean-EU action plan for 2013- 2017.

On the sidelines of the meeting, Dr Thongloun held talks with UK Foreign Secretary William Hague, saying that Laos will consider re-opening an embassy in London.

The Lao delegation also met with German Foreign Minister Dr Guido Westerwelle, who said Germany would double its assistance to Laos in various projects.

Projects in the areas of poverty reduction and technical and vocational projects would be funded with 18 million euros, while infrastructure improvement including rural road development would be funded with a further 20 million euros.

Thongloun asked the German side to assist Laos in human resource development, particularly in the technical and vocational sector.

Thongloun also met with Finland's deputy minister of foreign affairs, who told him Finland would increase its assistance to Laos to US$5 million per year, and would provide another US$20 million for the Mekong cooperation programme.

The Lao delegation also met with their counterparts from Austria, Romania, Sweden and Lithuania, to enhance their cooperative relations and inform them about the progress of Laos' preparations to host the 9th Asia-Europe Meeting Summit in November.

Asean comprises Laos, Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Singapore, Thailand, the Philippines and Vietnam.

 

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