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ASEAN Brussels, 2 May 2011

1st EU-ASEAN Business Summit in Jakarta set to strengthen regional trade and investment

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EU Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht leaves today for Jakarta to meet with ASEAN economic and trade Ministers from the South-East Asian block of ten countries and open the first ever ASEAN-EU Business Summit on May 5th.

"The first ASEAN-EU Business Summit in Jakarta is an important signal that shows both regions mean business when it comes to building stronger economic ties," said Commissioner De Gucht. "Given the economic dynamism of the ASEAN region, I see considerable opportunities for working more closely together in the coming years."

The Summit will help intensify business-to-business relations but also promote dialogue between governments and the private sector. The EU aims to open up new business opportunities in this fast growing region and create strong partnerships that help to support ASEAN's economic integration.

The Commissioner will also meet Indonesian Authorities to discuss bilateral trade issues and further enhance trade and investment relations with Indonesia.

Background

ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations), including Brunei Darussalam, Burma/Myanmar, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam, as a whole represents the EU's 7th largest trading partner with €175 billion of trade in goods and services. The EU is ASEAN's 2nd largest trading partner after China, accounting for around 10.9% of ASEAN trade. The EU is by far the largest investor in ASEAN countries. EU companies have invested around €10.4 billion annually on average (2002-2009).

The EU has increased its economic ties with South East Asia by opening negotiations for Free Trade Agreements with Singapore and Malaysia in 2010. These bilateral agreements are considered as building blocks for a future agreement with the whole region: the door remains open to start negotiations with other partners in the region on comprehensive free trade agreements.

Indonesia, the host country of the first EU-ASEAN Business Summit, is a major partner for the EU: EU-Indonesia merchandise trade stood at € 20 billion in 2010, with a €7 billion surplus for Indonesia. European companies are the largest investors in the country. The EU and Indonesia signed a Partnership Cooperation Agreement in 2009 as a first step towards closer economic and political ties. A joint "Vision Group", set up by business, government and academics in late 2010, will present concrete recommendations on ways to enhance EU-Indonesia trade and investment ties.

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