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EU reveals ambitious new trade deals with Vietnam
  • | | November 14, 2017 04:59 PM
The EU is preparing ambitious new trade deals with key partners, including with Singapore, Vietnam and Japan according to President of the European Council (EC), Donald Tusk.

President of the European Council, Donald Tusk, and ASEAN leaders in Manila, Philippines on November 14. Photo by Reuters

In his article titled "In a changing world, Asia and Europe need to deepen ties", released as the EC president was attending the EU-ASEAN Summit and the East Asia Summit in Manila, he stressed that Europe needs Asia, and Asia needs Europe. Not only as trading partners, but as friends and allies in a world where the geo-political realities are changing fast, and where global threats and challenges endanger Asians and Europeans alike.

After Britain's referendum last year, rumours of the demise of the European Union were greatly exaggerated. Paradoxically, EU public approval ratings have sharply increased since. Brexit shows the benefits of EU membership more clearly than any public relations campaign ever could. The EU27 are conducting exit negotiations in a unified and well-organised manner, in a spirit of fairness towards Britain, the article said.

Whatever the outcome, the EU economy will continue expanding strongly, as it already is. A raft of ambitious new trade deals are being concluded with key partners, including with Singapore, Vietnam and Japan. In December, EU countries will cross the Rubicon in defence with a major new initiative on capabilities, security research and force projection. The European Union now looks outward and to the future with a renewed sense of confidence and optimism.

The EC President confirmed their desire for a strategic partnership with Asia, especially ASEAN.

"The EU is ASEAN's second largest trading partner and largest foreign investor," he wrote. "We seek to further open up trade and investment, year-by-year, eventually agreeing an ambitious inter-regional framework that can set trading standards globally."

According to Donald Tusk, few emerging economies are growing so fast as those of ASEAN. Europeans want to do what we can to ensure this impressive achievement is sustained long into the future and helps as many people as possible. That is why the EU is doubling development cooperation funds to support ASEAN integration and also devotes over €2 billion in bilateral cooperation with all ASEAN countries.

"Forty years ago, Asian and European leaders took the prescient decision to establish the ASEAN-EU friendship," he added. "At the time, very few people understood that the EU would become the world’s largest market, or ASEAN its fastest growing group of economies. And almost no-one foresaw threats like climate change, today’s brand of violent extremism, hybrid war or cybercrime. Yet the maturing ASEAN-EU relationship can now be used as a tool to help us tackle such challenges together. It can also help us both reap the huge opportunities that are also there in our rapidly changing world."

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