ASEAN economic ministers and the EU Trade Commissioner agreed on the 2013 cooperation focus of fostering investment ties between the two sides, at their 12 th consultations in Hanoi on March 8.

To enhance trade and investment between the two regions, the consultation adopted the ASEAN-EU Trade and Investment Work programme for the 2013-2014 period.

The programme includes a number of regular activities such as dialogues, consultations, and cooperation and support programmes for ASEAN, aiming to improve trade and investment relations between the two regions, as well as contributing to deeper ASEAN integration, and between ASEAN and the EU.

The participants exchanged views on each region’s current development and were pleased to witness growing trade and investment flows across ASEAN and the EU despite the difficult world economy.

They discussed regional and international issues, especially the significance of the regional economic integration process in ASEAN and the EU, and noted the status of negotiations for the bilateral free trade agreements between several ASEAN member countries, including Vietnam , and the EU.

The host Minister of Industry and Trade Vu Huy Hoang, who also represents the current ASEAN-EU economic cooperation coordinator of Vietnam , updated the meeting on the programmes and initiatives to intensify economic cooperation, trade and investment relations between the two regions.

He said ASEAN highly valued the effective support of the EU in the implementation of various ASEAN-EU economic cooperation programmes, such as the ASEAN economic integration supporting programmes, capacity-building on institutional issues, collecting statistical data, and enhancing the negotiation capacity of ASEAN’s free trade agreements, intellectual property rights and air transportation matters.

ASEAN economic ministers applauded the ASEAN Regional Integration Support from the EU (ARISE) project that supports the building of the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) by 2015 by strengthening the capacity of its member states and the association’s Secretariat.

On March 9, the ministers, EU Trade Commissioner and about 700 businesses from the two regions will participate in important consultations in Hanoi .

The event is expected to provide policymakers of countries in both regions and the business community a chance to share their experience and information in order to further boost economic and trade cooperation between the two regions.

In 2012, the EU topped the list of FDI investors in ASEAN and was ASEAN’s third largest trading partner.

The EU is Vietnam ’s second largest trading partner and leading importer of Vietnamese commodities.

By October last year, the EU had 1,781 FDI projects in Vietnam with a total registered capital of 33.4 billion USD.-VNA