World Economy

ASEAN, 6 Partners Meet to Forge Agreement

ASEAN, 6 Partners  Meet to Forge AgreementASEAN, 6 Partners  Meet to Forge Agreement

Trade officials from 16 Asia-Pacific countries kicked off Monday the intercessional meeting of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (RCEP) to accelerate talks.

The two-day meeting aims to seek breakthroughs in negotiating modalities in the agreement of trade in goods that will serve as a basis for the sixth round of talks scheduled in India in December, according to Trade Ministry director general for international trade cooperation, Bachrul Chairi, Antara reported.

“The meeting we’re carrying out in Jakarta, Indonesia, is expected to ease our steps to agree some modalities ahead,” Bachrul told reporters on the sidelines of the meeting.

Up to the fifth round of talks in Singapore in June, the 10 members of ASEAN and its six major trading partners – Australia, China, India, Japan, South Korea and New Zealand – still could not reach a major agreement on core issues pertaining to the trade in goods and services as well as investment, raising fresh concern on whether the target of sealing the deal by next year is attainable.

The conclusion of the talks will lead to the creation of an integrated market across the Asia Pacific of approximately 3.4 billion inhabitants with a combined gross domestic product (GDP) of $21.4 trillion.

 One Car

More in-depth studies are needed to turn the ASEAN car project into a reality. “The idea of an ASEAN car is good where all the nations work together for one car. The implementation, however, is difficult,” former group managing director of Proton Holdings Bhd, Datuk Seri Syed Zainal Abidin Syed Mohamed Tahir told Bernama on Monday.

Abidin said the ASEAN car would compete with all models in the world including Proton and Perodua. “It will compete with international cars like Toyota and Datsun. So the implementation of the project needs to be considered quite seriously,” he said.

 Malaysian carmaker, Proton Holdings Bhd, is expected to be involved in the project.

 EU Engagement

The European Union’s recent decision to appoint a special ambassador accredited to ASEAN is a welcome and long-awaited step forward in the European Union’s (EU) relations with one of the world’s most dynamic and rapidly-growing regions.

As a recent statement by the European External Action Service, the EU’s “foreign ministry”, underlined, the “important decision” reflects Europe’s growing engagement with ASEAN and an ambition to upgrade the existing partnership with the Southeast Asian grouping to a strategic one.

The move also underscores the hard work put in Indonesia and by other ASEAN members in drawing EU attention to the region over the last four years.

The new EU envoy could make an important contribution to injecting some much-needed momentum into what — until four years ago — was still a lackluster and uninspiring EU-ASEAN relationship.