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EU-ASEAN

The European Union was planning on a bilateral trade agreement with the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) for many years. On 4 May 2007, the two sides agreed to start negotiations.

The EU-ASEAN FTA is supposed to be a comprehensive agreement. While ASEAN states are hoping to gain additional market access in the EU, the agreement is expected to have a much bigger impact in strengthening business opportunities for European TNCs in the region.

The talks have moved slowly and it’s not clear if the final deal will take the form of separate agreements between the EU and individual ASEAN members, something the EU seems to prefer. This would allow European governments to avoid taking on any commitments that support the regime in Burma but also to deal with the economic heterogeneity among ASEAN members.

EU procedures require that all ASEAN countries sign a Partnership Cooperation Agreement, containing a commitment to human rights, as a prerequisite to an FTA. Indonesia has already concluded its PCA with the EU, Singapore and Thailand are in advanced stages of negotiations, and Vietnam, Malaysia and Brunei are soon to begin. The Philippine government stated early on that it expects problems in negotiating a PCA, as the agreement apparently requires that the signatory state join the International Criminal Court.

Click here for the European Commission’s page on the EU-Indonesia FTA

last update: May 2012


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EU: Press Vietnam on human rights reforms
The European Union should press Vietnam to end its systemic repression of human rights and release political prisoners and detainees, Human Rights Watch said today.
EU puts riches over rights in Vietnam trade deal
The EU - Vietnam trade deal has simultaneously been criticized for rewarding a one-party state that is among Asia’s serial human rights abusers while making virtually no demands on Hanoi to improve its record.
EU adopts Vietnam trade deals despite human rights concerns
European lawmakers have overwhelmingly approved free trade and investment deals between the EU and Vietnam, despite concerns about the human rights situation in the country.
The EU-Indonesia FTA sustainable impact assessment report and why it is so hard to find
The sustainable impact assessment report of the free trade agreement between the European Union and Indonesia is not easy to find. Yet some of its findings are quite worrying.
EU-Vietnam: 68 Civil Society Organisations urge MEPs not to ratify the new trade and investment agreements
The undersigned organisations from Europe (1) call on the Members of the European Parliament not to ratify the free trade and investment agreements between the European Union and Vietnam.
NGOs urge European Parliament to postpone consent to EU-Vietnam trade deals
Despite Vietnam’s failure to meaningfully meet repeated requests for human rights improvements, a large majority in the International Trade Committee (INTA) voted in favour of granting swift consent to the agreements.
EU not keen on FTA talks with PH
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Vietnam sent champagne to MEPs ahead of trade vote
MEPs over Christmas received bottles of Moet & Chandon Imperial champagne from Vietnam’s embassy in Brussels - ahead of the trade deal vote with Vietnam.
Trade between Indonesia and the EU likely to get more tense, with dairy at the center
Away from the more headline grabbing US-China trade dispute, a less glamorous one has also been taking place between the corridors of Brussels and Jakarta.