Officials and business representatives from all ten ASEAN member countries and the European Union met in Jakarta on Apr. 16 to discuss the opportunities and challenges of an ASEAN-EU free trade agreement (FTA) in the future.

As part of the “Enhancing ASEAN’s FTA negotiation capacity” programme funded by the EU, the five-day event will focus discussion on global trade in agriculture, methods of sanitation and animal and plant quarantine, standards and technical barriers to trade, as well as techniques and tools for trade negotiation.

The 2.5 million GBP programme runs from February, 2011 until August, 2013 via training courses on FTA negotiation and high-quality research on trade, investment and traditional and non-traditional challenges in the 21 st century.

According to the EU Delegation to ASEAN, ASEAN is now the EU’s third biggest non-European partner, behind the US and China , with total trade exceeding 175 billion GBP in 2010.-VNA