Siem Reap, 16 January 2012

ASEAN officials and business representatives came together today to gain deeper understanding about the ASEAN and EU trade policies as well as the new and emerging trade issues in free trade agreements (FTAs).

Organised by the ASEAN-EU Enhancing ASEAN FTA Negotiation Capacity Programme, the four-day workshop focuses on current state-of-play in the international trade agenda. The participants will engage in negotiation simulation exercises that focus on trade negotiating techniques, methodologies and tools. Additionally, the participants will be introduced to the so-called “new trade issues” which includes competition policy, trade facilitation and government procurement.

“Starting here today in Siem Reap, a series of 10 workshops have been planned to be held all over ASEAN where ASEAN trade practitioners, officials and business representatives will get to reflect on trade issues”, said Mr Andreas Roettger, Head of Economic and Regional Cooperation of the Delegation of the European Union to ASEAN. He reiterated that “the EU is the largest export market for ASEAN and the ASEAN regional block stands to benefit through such capacity building support”.

Mr. Pich Rithi, Director General of Ministry of Commerce, Cambodia and current ASEAN SEOM Chairman expressed his deep appreciation to the EU for providing the technical assistance. He said, “This programme is indeed relevant to ASEAN. Although, ASEAN has already signed FTAs with China, Japan, Republic of Korea, India and Australia-New Zealand, it is currently negotiating services and investment with India and Japan. Several individual ASEAN Member States are also engaged in bilateral FTA negotiations particularly with the EU. Thus, this programme will help the negotiating capacity of the Member States not only with the EU but also in other bilateral and ASEAN led FTA negotiations”.

The Enhancing ASEAN FTA Negotiating Capacity Programme is a € 2.5 million technical cooperation programme funded by the EU for the benefit of ASEAN’s Member States. It supports ASEAN economic integration and facilitates ASEAN’s preparedness for participating in FTA negotiations. The programme is designed to provide high-quality training, cutting-edge research and analysis, and bilateral FTA negotiations simulations for government and private sector representatives of the ASEAN Member States and ASEAN Secretariat’s officials. It covers a broad range of trade and investment issues and addresses traditional and non-traditional issues and newer challenges in the 21st Century.