EU Ambassador to Singapore Michael Pulch has stressed that a strong EU-ASEAN partnership is strategically significant for both sides and intensified partnership will bear fruit for future generations.

In an article entitled “European Union and ASEAN are natural partners” published by Singapore daily “The Straits Times” on July 23 when foreign ministers of 28 EU and 10 ASEAN member states are meeting in Brussels, the ambassador wrote that the EU, as ASEAN's Dialogue Partner, has played a role in helping ASEAN make impressive economic progress in the last decade.

According to the diplomat, the fact that 10 million people travel between the two regions annually is evidence of the EU's extensive and intensive partnership with ASEAN.

Trade between the regions has increased every year since 2009 with the EU currently being the biggest foreign investor in ASEAN. One fourth of trade with ASEAN is with Singapore alone, the EU’s most important economic partner in the region.

Services, an increasingly important part of bilateral trade, is also on the rise. Latest figures show total trade in services amounted to 28.8 billion EUR and half of which is done with Singapore.

He stressed the importance of bilateral cooperation between the EU and Singapore for the two regions’ ties. The EU-Singapore Free Trade Agreement (FTA) signed on Sept. 20 last year - the EU's first FTA in ASEAN and its second in Asia after the Republic of Korea - will hopefully serve as an inspiration to a wider EU-ASEAN FTA in the future, he said.

"Meanwhile, the EU-Singapore Partnership and Cooperation Agreement initialled last October, once ratified, will give us a comprehensive framework to develop and intensify relations across the board.”

Besides trade and investment ties, the EU and ASEAN have cooperated in other areas, including climate change and maritime security, he added.

The EU ambassador said that in Brussels, the EU and ASEAN foreign ministers would discuss ways to improve cooperation in the areas of transport, education and communication, advance cooperation in maritime issues, and eradicate poverty and sustain the region's dynamic economies./.