EU Eyes Free-Trade Accord With ASEAN

By Agence France-Presse The European Union is ready to negotiate a free-trade agreement with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) after the current round of World Trade Organization (WTO)-led talks, the European Commission said July 7. The EU's executive arm will this week formally agree on a document setting out a strategy for relations between the EU -- currently 15 members, expanding to 25 next year -- and the 10-member ASEAN. The commission is notably proposing a regional trade action plan, called the transregional EU-ASEAN trade initiative, said spokesman Reijo Kempinnen. "If successfully implemented it would permit us to give serious consideration to entering into a free-trade agreement once the Doha round of multilateral trade negotiations is successfully completed," he said. The Doha development agenda, launched in the Qatari capital Doha in November 2001, aims to establish a more equitable approach to international trade for developing countries. The European Commission added that the EU was also ready to sign bilateral agreements with ASEAN states "to deepen cooperation" on issues like human rights, good governance, justice and home affairs, and fighting terrorism. Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2003

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