ASEAN and the EU are celebrating the 45th Anniversary of their dialogue partnership on 14th December 2022 in Brussels, and in commemoration of this special event, the EU-ASEAN Business Council will be holding its 10th Business Summit on the sidelines of the official bilateral meeting.
Since 1977, the ASEAN-EU relationship has grown in depth and breadth. It was elevated to a Strategic Partnership in 2020, and a year later, the EU demonstrated its recognition of ASEAN's centrality by putting the region at the heart of its Indo-Pacific Strategy. On the economic cooperation front, both sides remain important trading partners – the EU was ASEAN's third largest trading partner in 2021, and the second largest source of FDI among ASEAN's Dialogue Partners. Bilateral trade continues to grow.
There are vast opportunities in ASEAN. Rapidly expanding middle-class, strong economies, and a dream to become an economic community – it is with the support of strong, trusted partners like the EU that ASEAN can live up to its fullest potential.
Bilateral free trade agreement negotiations and discussions continue to take place with ASEAN Member States, with deals concluded in Singapore and Vietnam. Meanwhile, the EU has poured millions of dollars in funding and technical assistance on various programmes, notably those that go towards ASEAN's regional integration process and on climate change action. And, at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, the EU was a major donor of COVID-19 vaccines and other related support to Southeast Asia.
It is clear then that the EU has been among ASEAN's biggest supporters and a trusted strategic partner. However, given the pressing need to tackle climate action, alleviate poverty through the digital economy, improve connectivity, and present concerns around food security, it is important to further enhance exchanges and cooperation between these two complementary regions. On ASEAN's part, it has demonstrated strong political commitment to pursue sustainable development. However, it continues to require assistance and positive engagement from the EU to achieve its goals.
The 10th ASEAN-EU Business Summit will be a platform to facilitate this important dialogue. Held along the theme: "Deepening ASEAN-EU Trade: Sustainable Development for All," the Council hopes the conversations and ideas generated from the Summit will reinforce the existing strong trade and investment relationship between ASEAN and the EU, and to reignite Europe's interest in Southeast Asia as a region of opportunities.
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