- The EU-ASEAN Business Council – the voice of European business in South East Asia – has launched a region-wide position paper of recommendations to boost market access, and increase trade and investment between Europe and ASEAN.
- Access to markets in ASEAN is an important factor in encouraging greater investment. Europe is already the region’s largest source of FDI and this position paper explores ways to open up markets even further in line with the ASEAN Economic Community Blueprint. Top of the list is the elimination of non-tariff barriers to trade. The paper highlights a number of market access issues across ASEAN, including:
- Cumbersome customs procedures with little harmonization across ASEAN;
- Unpredictable application of regulations and procedures, impacting the ability of businessesto make informed long term investment decisions;
- Restrictions on foreign ownership and foreign competition;
- Lack of harmonized standards or the lack of mutual recognition of such standards across theregion.
These four broad themes limit the ability of businesses – from ASEAN or elsewhere – to trade effectively with partners across South East Asia. They also limit the ability of businesses to make long term investment decisions. The implementation of the paper’s recommendations would help boost trade and investment within the region.
Coinciding with the launch of the EU-ASEAN Business Council’s market access paper, the European Union has published its latest EU-ASEAN trade and investment statistics. The statistics confirm that the European Union – the world’s largest economy – is ASEAN’s second most important trading partner after China, accounting for 13% of ASEAN’s trade in goods with the world. Between 2004 and 2014 ASEAN-EU trade grew an annual compound rate of 4.7%. The balance of trade is very much in ASEAN’s favour, with the EU importing more from the region than it exports to it. Other key statistics include:
- Singapore is the EU’s most important trading partner in ASEAN, accounting for 25.1% of ASEAN-EU trade in goods. Malaysia is second, accounting for 18.8% of trade, followed by Thailand and Vietnam on 17.3% and 15.8% respectively.
- The latest statistics show that in 2013 the EU was ASEAN’s largest investor with EUR 156bn in FDI stocks. In 2013 the EU accounted for 22% of investment flows into ASEAN, followed by Japan on 18.7%.
- Singapore accounts for 60% of the EU’s FDI stock, followed by Indonesia (15%) and Malaysia (11%).
- Singapore is the largest ASEAN investor in the European Union, accounting for 76% of all ASEAN FDI stock in the EU.
The latest trade and investment statistics from the European Union demonstrate the importance of the ASEAN-EU commercial relationship. The position paper published by the EU-ASEAN Business Council highlights a number of ways in which this relationship can grow further, and is published at a time when ASEAN is looking to develop its post-2015 AEC agenda. The AEC – launched later this year – is welcomed by the European business community but is acknowledged as only the start of a longer process of regional integration as ASEAN looks to realise its full economic potential.
Commenting Dr Michael Pulch, EU Ambassador to Singapore, said:
“At the global, regional and bilateral level, the EU confirms itself as a powerful force in trade and investment. The EU has a huge stake in the continued success of Singapore and ASEAN and is committed to a vibrant and dynamic region, where enhanced trade, investment and business links create new opportunities for economic growth
“The market access paper by the EU-ASEAN Business Council addresses a number of important issues including on regulatory frameworks, transparency and non-discrimination between economic operators, to further promote our impressive trade and investment links”.
Commenting EU-ABC Executive Director Chris Humphrey, Executive Director, EU-ASEAN Business Council, said:
‘’The latest trade and investment statistics underscore the importance of the commercial relationship between our two dynamic regions. The EU-ASEAN Business Council’s market access position paper outlines a number of policies which, if implemented, could substantially boost intra-ASEAN trade and investment as well as between the EU and ASEAN.
“The paper comes at an important time as ASEAN prepares to launch the AEC later this year. The policy positions outlined in this paper are intended to help shape the post-2015 agenda, and will be discussed further when the European and ASEAN business community participate in a dialogue session with economic ministers from across ASEAN at the ASEAN-EU Business Summit in August’’.
to download the paper here Market Access Paper – Final 2