Asean trade officials come together to enhance trade negotiation skills
Trade officials and business representatives from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations including the Philippines have gathered in Cambodia to enhance skills in negotiating free trade pacts amid continuing steps worldwide to ease the movement of goods.
Focusing on Asean and EU trade policies, as well as new and emerging trade issues, the training is part of the European Union-funded, 2.5-million euro (about $3.2 million) Enhancing Asean FTA (free trade agreement) Negotiating Capacity Program.
The program is designed to provide high-quality training, research and analysis, and bilateral FTA negotiations simulations.
The EU is the largest destination of exports from Asean, with shipments valued at more than $113.8 billion in 2011.
The two groupings started FTA negotiations in 2007, which were also designed to contribute to Asean’s process of regional integration, but these have been suspended, leaving the EU in talks with individual Asean countries.
According to the Delegation of the EU to Asean, the EU “still believes that a region-to-region FTA makes political and economic sense in the long term and the strategic objective of concluding an agreement with the Asean as a region is retained.”
In a dinner meeting between EU officials in the Philippines and the Inquirer business staff last week, it was pointed out that Philippine businesses and even the government are just starting to look at Europe as a trade bloc, rather than as a group of individual countries.
Data from the EU delegation showed that “the EU has become the Philippines’ largest-single export market over the last five years.”
In 2010, Philippine exports to the EU expanded by at least 40 percent to $6.8 billion.
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