EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini (Source: VNA)

Singapore (VNA) – The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and the European Union (EU) have highlighted the significance of fighting protectionism and a possible global trade war in the context that foreign ministers of both sides are working together on a free trade agreement between the two regions.

Speaking on the sidelines of the 51st ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Meeting and other related meetings in Singapore on August 3, EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini said that the ASEAN nations can rely on the EU as a free trade partner.

Mogherini stated that the EU supports the viewpoint that free trade and equality will bring about equal benefits instead of harmful trade wars.

She showed her hope that bilateral trade deals that the EU is negotiating with some ASEAN countries will serve as foundation for the future inter-regional agreement.

Earlier the same day, Philippine Secretary of Foreign Affairs Alan Peter Cayetano said that all countries are concerned about the risk of a trade war as it will not bring victory to any side but affect even irrelevant parties.

Meanwhile, Malaysian Minister of Foreign Affairs Saifuddin Abdullah warned that the Southeast Asian region will be impacted by a widespread trade war.

Trade conflict between the US and China has escalated after US President Donald Trump announced the application of a 25 percent tax on Chinese goods as Beijing denied Washington’s requests and rolled out retaliatory measures against US products.

In early July, the US applied a 25 percent tax rate on Chinese goods worth 34 billion USD, while planning the tax application on another amount of Chinese goods valuing 16 billion USD. Meanwhile, China has also revealed that it will take new tariff measures against US products.

The ASEAN is working hard to promote free trade agreements between its member countries with partners in the region.

The ASEAN and the EU launched negotiations on a free trade deal in 2007, but the EU withdrew from the process two years later due to disputes with Myanmar. The two sides resumed the negotiations last year.-VNA