The second ASEAN-EU Public Dialogue Forum kicked off in Jakarta, Indonesia, on April 2.

The forum was held by the Indonesian Ministry of Commerce and the ASEAN-EU cooperation programme on the enhancement of ASEAN’s free trade agreement negotiation skills.

Opening the event, Ambassador Julian Wilson, who is also Head of the EU Delegation to Indonesia , Brunei and ASEAN, highlighted the significance of trade and free trade to socio-economic development of both ASEAN and the EU.

Trade and free trade have helped to deal with joblessness and fulfill the United Nation Millennium Development Goals, he said.

He took the occasion to stress the need to enhance the ten-nation group’s FTA negotiation skills.

Participants, including leading scholars, experts and managers from Indonesia, other ASEAN countries and the EU, discussed economic and commercial challenges facing ASEAN as well as the equal role played by the two sides in the global trade structure.

The role and contributions of the private sector and small and medium-sized enterprises to the ASEAN-EU trade ties and the global economic integration were also tabled.

The first ASEAN-EU Public Dialogue Forum was convened in Hanoi in September last year.

In 2012, ASEAN is EU’s third largest trade partner outside Europe with two-way trade reaching 180 billion USD while the EU is ASEAN’s second largest trade partner and importer, accounting for 11 percent of the group’s total trade revenue.-VNA