Bingkai Karya – The 24th ASEAN-EU Ministerial Meeting, held in Brussels, Belgium, on February 2, has yielded a joint commitment to enhance trade and investment relations between the member countries. The Joint Ministerial Statement, released in Jakarta on Saturday, highlights the encouraging economic cooperation between ASEAN and the EU, with the EU holding the position of ASEAN’s third-largest foreign investor and trading partner in 2022.
The meeting, attended by ASEAN foreign ministers, EU member countries, the ASEAN Secretariat, the European Commission, and Timor Leste as an ASEAN observer, emphasized the imperative to address longstanding market access issues. Both parties expressed enthusiasm for advancing trade and investment through bilateral free trade agreements, reinforcing connectivity, and deepening economic relations.
Under the leadership of Philippine Minister of Foreign Affairs Enrique Manalo and Vice President of the European Commission Josep Borrell, the meeting outlined plans to intensify engagement on trade and economic matters. There is a concerted effort to explore opportunities in emerging sectors such as the digital economy, green technologies, sustainable commodity production and consumption, and supply chain resilience. The statement also reaffirmed a shared long-term objective of establishing an ASEAN-EU Free Trade Agreement (FTA).
The meeting underscored the 47 years of ASEAN-EU Dialogue Relations, expressing satisfaction with the breadth and depth of their dynamic partnerships. The reaffirmation of a strategic partnership and mutual interest in maintaining peaceful, stable, and prosperous regions was based on respect for international law and adherence to a rules-based international order.
In a significant move, the ASEAN-EU collaboration extended support for Timor-Leste’s desire to join ASEAN, aligning with the established roadmap for its full membership. Acknowledging the importance of global economic integration, the meeting also noted the EU’s backing for Timor Leste’s entry into the World Trade Organization (WTO).
In summary, the 24th ASEAN-EU Ministerial Meeting has marked a pivotal moment in strengthening economic ties between the two regions. Addressing challenges, exploring new opportunities, and committing to a sustainable and cooperative future are central themes that emerged from this crucial diplomatic engagement.