EU Member States just gave the green light for the Commission to pursue negotiations towards free trade agreements (FTAs) with individual countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).
As a first step, the Commission intends to begin negotiations with Singapore early in 2010. With around € 55 billion of bilateral trade, Singapore is the EU´s most important trading partner among the ASEAN countries. However, the door remains open for other ASEAN countries willing to negotiate a comprehensive FTA with the EU.
EU Trade Commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner said, Creating new business opportunities for European companies in the dynamic ASEAN countries would strengthen the competitiveness of manufacturers, farmers and service providers in the EU.
After the US and China, the group of ASEAN countries is the EU's 3rd largest trade partner outside Europe. Trade in goods and services between the EU and ASEAN has grown by more than a quarter between 2004 and 2008, reaching € 175 billion in 2008.
Source: EU Commission, Belgium. Brussels