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PBBM sees revitalized Asean-EU trade and investment after Brussels summit

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While the proposed Association of Southeast Asian Nations-European Union (Asean-EU) Free Trade Agreement (FTA) is still pending, President Ferdinand “Bongbong” R. Marcos Jr. said both regional blocs are eyeing to roll out a new trade and investment program next year to boost economic cooperation.

In his closing remarks during the 10th Asean-EU Business Summit in Brussels, Belgium, on Tuesday, Marcos said the Asean-EU Trade and Investment Work Programme of 2022-2023 would help in the growth of businesses in both regional blocs.

Ministers had already endorsed the framework and representatives of the EU during the 18th Asean Economic Ministers-EU Trade Commissioner Consultations last September 2022.

“The Asean-EU Trade and Investment Work Programme of 2022-2023 will provide the Asean and EU with a framework with, which will serve  [or] that will serve as a platform to enhance economic cooperation in addressing new emerging challenges and seeing new opportunities for trade and investment amongst Member States and Countries,” Marcos said.

“Let us continue to strengthen trade and investment endeavors between the EU and Asean, with the end in view of enhancing economic integration between the two blocs,” he added.

Pending FTA

However, he noted the long-term objective of both parties is the completion of the FTA, which has been pending since 2007.

“Economic cooperation initiatives will be prioritized on areas of mutual interest in order to bridge the gap and realize this long-term objective,” Marcos said.

To better integrate with the European market, he said Asean is also initiating its digital transformation agenda through the ongoing Bandar Seri Begawan Roadmap (BSBR) and transitioning into a “low carbon circular economy.”

This is in line with the Asean-EU Joint Ministerial Statement on Connectivity 2020.

“The initiative affirms the commitment between Asean and the EU to further boost connectivity through the implementation of key strategies, such as the EU Strategy Connecting Europe and Asia and the Master Plan on Asean Connectivity [MPAC] 2025, with specific focus on the following areas: sustainable infrastructure, digital innovation, seamless logistics, regulatory excellence, and people mobility,” Marcos said.

The President said the Asean is ready for a trade agreement with Europe since it is already part of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) and the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP).

“Asean is well-positioned to accelerate intra-regional trade and profit,” Marcos said.

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