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The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) and the European Union (EU) decided at a ministerial meeting on Tuesday to elevate their dialogue partnership to a “strategic partnership”.
Tuesday’s meeting via video conference was co-chaired by Singapore’s Foreign Affairs Minister Vivian Balakrishnan, as country coordinator for Asean-EU Dialogue Relations, and EU high representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy/Vice-President of the European Commission Josep Borrell.
The meeting was attended by foreign ministers or their representatives from all Asean states and 27 EU states, as well as the Asean Secretariat and European Commission.
The Foreign Ministers reaffirmed their strong commitment to accelerate multilateral and regional cooperation on the basis of shared values and common interests in a rules-based global order.
|The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and the European Union (EU) hold the 23rd ASEAN-EU Ministerial Meeting (AEMM) held on December 1 via videoconference. (Photo: asean.org)|
They agreed to continue close coordination in containing and pushing back the Covid-19 pandemic and in fostering post-pandemic recovery.
The ministers approved an ASEAN-EU Joint Statement on connectivity, with due consideration to the EU Strategy Connecting Europe and Asia and the Master Plan on ASEAN Connectivity (MPAC) 2025.
They also welcomed the official launch of the ASEAN Customs Transit System (ACTS) under the EU ARISE+ program, which will contribute effectively to further facilitation of trade flows in the region.
Regarding regional and international landscape, the ministers underlined the need to ensure an environment of peace, security and stability in the region, affirming their commitment to upholding international law, promoting multilateralism and cooperation in addressing global challenges.
The participating countries emphasized the importance of maintaining peace, stability, security, safety and freedom of navigation and aviation in the East Sea – a key sea lane of the world and voiced support for efforts aimed at early resumption of talks on an effective and efficient Code of Conduct in the East Sea in accordance with international law and the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, reported the VGP.
|Deputy Prime Minister, Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh attends the 23rd ASEAN-EU Ministerial Meeeting held in form of virtual format on December 1, 2020. Photo: VGP|
Speaking at the meeting, Deputy Prime Minister, Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh appreciated the EU’s advocacy for ASEAN centrality and unity in an open, transparent, inclusive and rules-based regional emerging architecture.
He suggested the EU share experience with and back ASEAN in narrowing development gap to help the region achieve sustainable development.
On the Bien Dong Sea (South China Sea) issue, he affirmed that Vietnam’s stance suits ASEAN’s principle stance, which was affirmed at the 36th ASEAN Summit in June, the 53rd ASEAN Ministerial Meeting in September, and the 37th ASEAN Summit in November.
Minh asked countries to uphold the spirit of cooperation and sense of responsibility for building the Bien Dong Sea into a water of peace, stability, and cooperation.
ASEAN heralded the EU as its partner of top significance, second-largest trade partner with two-way trade of 280 billion USD in 2019, and third-largest source of FDI with 16.2 billion USD last year.
The EU also announced a new initiative at the meeting to carry out a medical support programme in Southeast Asia in response to COVID-19, within the framework of a 350 million EUR (421.6 million USD) relief package the EU provided to ASEAN to improve its medical capacity.
Ministers also adopted the ASEAN - EU Joint Ministerial Statement on Connectivity and agreed to continue building the ASEAN - EU Free Trade Area and soon complete the ASEAN - EU Comprehensive Air Transport Agreement, said VNA.
Both sides welcomed the recent official operation of the ASEAN Customs Transit System, with support from the EU’s trade facilitation programme, which makes an active contribution to economic recovery and trade in the region.
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