EU Urges Asia to Avoid Trade Protectionism

The diplomatic offensive is seen as a sign of the growing importance that Europe places on Asia's vibrant economies.

In order to aid efforts to boost the struggling global economy, European leaders on Monday urged Asia to avoid trade protectionism.

"Promoting trade is not only fostering domestic demand but also avoiding protectionism," European Union president Herman Van Rompuy said at a summit of Asian and European leaders in Laos.

"We trust that our Asian partners will remain committed to open economies and to the commonly agreed multinational trade rules," he added.

European leaders sought to reassure their Asian counterparts at the meeting that they are finally getting a grip on the long-running eurozone debt crisis.

"The financial stability of the eurozone is much stronger than a few months ago. The euro is an irreversible project and on this basis growth can pickup in the course of 2013," Van Rompuy said.

"The economic and financial pressures in Europe are only one part of a wider set of problems worldwide. Growth is a global collective responsibility," he added.

The diplomatic offensive is seen as a sign of the growing importance that Europe places on Asia's vibrant economies.

Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti told the summit the European Union had made a "huge effort" to tackle the crisis "by more coordination, by fleshing out the future of a genuine economic and monetary union."

He said that Asia also faced slowing economic growth and the risk of financial contagion.

"Past events showed us that the current crisis does not stop on the edge of town but it is really knocking at all doors," Monti said.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2012

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