17/07/2015 16:29 GMT+7 Email Print Like 0

ASEAN market access paper launched

Kuala Lumpur, July 17 (VNA) - The European Union-ASEAN Business Council (EU-ABC) has launched a region-wide position paper of recommendations to boost market access as well as increase trade and investment between Europe and ASEAN.

In a statement released on July 16, the council said Europe has been the region's largest source of foreign direct investment (FDI) and the position paper explores ways to open markets up even further in line with the ASEAN Economic Community Blueprint.

The paper mentioned the elimination of non-tariff barriers to trade, highlighting issues such as cumbersome customs procedures with little harmonisation across ASEAN and unpredictable application of regulations and procedures, impacting businesses' ability to make informed long-term investment decisions.

Other issues include restrictions on foreign ownership and foreign competition and lack of harmonised standards or lack of mutual recognition of such standards across the region.

On the same day, the EU published its latest EU-ASEAN trade and investment statistics which confirm that the EU is ASEAN's second most important trade partner after China, accounting for 13 percent of ASEAN's goods trade.

Between 2004 and 2014, ASEAN-EU trade grew at an annual compound rate of 4.7 percent with the trade balance in ASEAN's favour, with the EU importing more from the region than it exports to it.

Singapore is the EU's most important trading partner in ASEAN, accounting for 25.1 percent of ASEAN-EU goods trade, followed by Malaysia (18.8 percent), Thailand (17.3 percent) and Vietnam (15.8 percent), it said.

The statistics also show that the EU was ASEAN's largest investor with 156 billion EUR in FDI stocks in 2013, accounting for 22 percent of investment flows into ASEAN, followed by Japan with 18.7 percent.