ASEAN, EU pledge to strengthen comprehensive ties
Updated : Wednesday, January 23, 2019 3:16 PM (GMT+0700)

The Association ofSoutheast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and the European Union (EU) affirmed thecommitment to enhancing bilateral comprehensive cooperation at the 22ndASEAN-EU Ministerial Meeting in Brussels on January 21.

Officials pose for a photo at the 22nd ASEAN-EU Ministerial Meeting in Brussels on January
21 - Source: VNA

Officials of foreign affairs of the 10 ASEAN nations and 24EU countries attended the meeting. Deputy Foreign Minister Nguyen Quoc Dung ledthe Vietnamese delegation to the event.

At the meeting, participants emphasised the two blocs’special relations as “partners in integration”.

ASEAN valued the EU as a leading partner, especially ineconomy and development. The EU is currently the second biggest trade partnerof ASEAN with bilateral trade reaching 261 billion USD in 2017, up 11.9 percentfrom the previous year. It is also the largest source of foreign investment ofASEAN when its direct investment here hit 25.4 billion USD in 2017, accountingfor 18.6 percent of the total foreign direct investment in the region.

The EU also reiterated its support for ASEAN’s central roleand that it considers ASEAN as an important partner sharing many interests andstrategic visions.

Ministers recognised the progress in bilateral relationssince the 21st ministerial meeting in 2016, particularly the success of theASEAN-EU 40th Commemorative Summit in 2017 and the approval of theASEAN-EU Plan of Action 2018-2022.

At the meeting, they agreed to bolster cooperation in thefields of shared concern and interest like economy-trade-investment,connectivity, climate change response, sustainable development,counter-terrorism, trans-national crime prevention, cyber security, andmaritime security. The two sides also agreed to step up efforts towards anASEAN-EU free trade agreement on the basis of the bilateral deals between theEU and ASEAN member countries.

They also reached a consensus in principle of upgradingASEAN-EU relations to a strategic partnership, and adopted the joint statementof the meeting.

Regarding international and regional issues, the ministersexchanged views on complex and unpredictable developments of the globaleconomic and political situation. They agreed to keep coordinating in thepromotion of multilateralism and open, fair and rules-based multilateral tradesystems, while working closely together to resolve global challenges, enhancedialogue, build trust and prevent conflicts.

As for the East Sea issue, participants continued tounderline the importance of maintaining peace, stability, maritime security andsafety, and freedom of navigation and overflight, and respecting the rule oflaw. They called on the sides relevant to make self-restraint, not threaten touse or use force, and settle disputes by peaceful means in line withinternational law, including the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law ofthe Sea.

The countries voiced support for ASEAN and China’s efforts ineffectively implementing the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the EastSea and working towards the early conclusion of a Code of Conduct (COC) in thewaters.

Additionally, they welcomed the recent progress on the KoreanPeninsula, affirming their support for and readiness to assist efforts towardssustainable peace and stability and complete denuclearisation on the peninsula.They also emphasised the continuation of the serious and full implementation ofrelevant resolutions of the UN Security Council.

On behalf of the ASEAN, Deputy Minister Dung delivered aspeech on the cooperation priorities between the two sides in 2019. He proposedorientations and measures to intensify substantive cooperation in the areasmatching the ASEAN’s demand and the EU’s strength such as climate changeresponse, counter-terrorism, trans-national crime prevention, cyber security,border management, illegal fishing prevention and sustainable development.

He also reaffirmed the ASEAN’s principled stance on the EastSea issue and highlighted the strides in the building of the COC between ASEANand China. The official added that the bloc supports the EU to contribute toits efforts to maintain regional peace, security and stability.

On the sidelines of the meeting, Dung had bilateral meetingswith officials of Belgium, Romania, Greece, Hungary, the European Council andthe European Commission to promote the signing and ratification of theEU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement and the bilateral investment protectionagreement, and discussed other issues of bilateral relations.

Source: VNA

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