During the press conference, Philippine Trade Secretary and AEM Chairman Ramon Lopez said the two sides have tasked Senior Economic Officials to develop a framework for the negotiations.
Moreover, EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmström reaffirmed that the EU is fully on board with the endeavour.
She noted the relations between the two regions is ‘vibrant, good, and developing’.
From the perspective of the EU, we remain committed to strengthening and developing EU-ASEAN trade relations, said the EU Trade Commissioner.
We are committed to open and free trade and advancing a positive, win-win global trade agenda. So, it is important to find like-minded partners here in ASEAN who appreciate the value of trade, she added.
It was in 2007 when ASEAN and the EU first began the trade talks. However, discussions were suspended two years later.
But, the EU had continued pursuing bilateral trade pacts with ASEAN member countries. Currently, the EU has reached free trade accords with Singapore and Vietnam, and is in pursuit of deals with the Philippines and Indonesia.
We believe it is important to connect to growing markets and to eliminate as many obstacles to trade as possible, Malmström underlined.
Having a region-to-region agreement between the EU and ASEAN is a long-term goal that we have had under consideration for many years and we are now taking steps to move the process forward in a meaningful and substantive manner.