EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom told reporters in Manila, the Philippines, that EU and ASEAN senior officials decided to establish a framework for the resumption of FTA talks. However, they have yet to set up a detailed schedule for negotiations.
The EU-ASEAN connectivity will help remove trade barriers, she said, adding that a bilateral FTA is a long-term target that the EU has been discussing for many years and the EU is taking steps towards this.
A trade deal with ASEAN will link the EU with the world’s seventh-largest market, which boasts strong consumption and middle-class expansion, especially in Vietnam and the Philippines.
The ASEAN region has a combined population of 622 million and an economy of US$2.6 trillion which is driven by consumption, export, and manufacturing.
The EU and ASEAN launched negotiations on a region-to-region FTA in 2007 but suspended the process in 2009 as the EU wanted to have bilateral talks with each of the ASEAN members instead of negotiating with the whole bloc.
The EU reached separate FTAs with Singapore and Vietnam, but they have not been implemented yet.