The 19 th ASEAN Economic Ministers’ Retreat and related meetings will be held in Hanoi from March 6-9.

Hosting the important meetings is one of many activities undertaken by Vietnam to realise its policy of actively engaging in international economic integration and contributing to the establishment of the ASEAN Economic Community by 2015, said the Deputy Minister of Industry and Trade Nguyen Cam Tu at a press conference in Hanoi on February 27.

According to Tu , the ASEAN integration process is inseperable from the world’s economic development. Therefore, the bloc is promoting trade, investment and economic links with its dialogue partners and at the same time maintaining its central position in the evolving regional structures.

ASEAN is currently engaged in Free Trade Areas (FTA) with China , the Republic of Korea , Japan , India , Australia and New Zealand . In 2013, ASEAN and its six FTA partners will begin negotiations on the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP). The negotiations are expected to end by the end of 2015, and aim to create the largest free trade area in the world.

Within the framework of the Retreat, the 12 th consultation between ASEAN economic ministers and the EU Trade Commissioner will take place on March 9. The two sides will discuss how to promote economic cooperation, trade and investment relations between the two regions.

ASEAN is Vietnam ’s third largest export market. In 2012, export-import turnover between Vietnam and ASEAN countries reached over 38 billion USD.-VNA