The Tenth Meeting of the Foreign Ministers of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and the European Community (EC) was held on 29-30 October 1992, in Manila , under the co- chairmanship of the Philippines and the United Kingdom. The Ministers had a comprehensive and useful exchange of views on a number of political and economic issues.
The Ministers reviewed the developments in ASEAN-EC relations since their last-meeting in Luxembourg on 30-31 May 1991. They expressed satisfaction over the progress of the relationship and agreed that there was a need to consolidate, deepen and diversify ASEAN-EC cooperation to enable it to keep abreast of global changes and to ensure an enduring and mutually beneficial relationship in an increasingly interdependent world.
DEVELOPMENTS IN ASEAN AND THE COMMUNITY
The Ministers had an extensive exchange of views on the developments in ASEAN and in the Community since their last Ministerial Meeting in Luxembourg. They noted the rapid economic growth of ASEAN member countries and the increasing collaboration between them.
The Ministers noted the progress towards ratification of the Treaty agreed at Maastricht to establish a European Union, steps towards completion of the Single Market and prospects for enlargement of the Community. The ASEAN Ministers expressed the hope that such developments would enhance ASEAN-EC cooperation. The Ministers welcomed the links established between the European Parliament and the ASEAN Interparliamentary Organization.
The Ministers noted that since the signing of the ASEAN-EC Cooperation Agreement in 1980, commercial, economic and development cooperation has made significant progress. Both groups being outward looking, GATT-consistent and supportive of the process of trade liberalization — the EC moving to a single market and the ASEAN to a free trade area the Ministers agreed to continue to accelerate joint efforts in enhancing ASEAN-EC relations.
The Ministers underlined the importance they attached to the decisions of the Fourth ASEAN Summit, in particular the decision to establish the ASEAN Free Trade Area which would contribute to the strengthening of the open multilateral trading system and would further expand trade and investment flows between the two regions. In this respect, they welcomed the offer of the European Community to share its experiences from the European economic integration process and to provide technical assistance to strengthen the institutional capacity of the ASEAN Secretariat.
The Ministers discussed the four points for enhanced cooperation raised by the ASEAN side at the Ninth ASEAN-EC Ministerial Meeting and expressed satisfaction at the progress made:
(i) Consultation in trade matters would be improved through better use of the ASEAN-EC Trade Experts Meeting (TEM) which would meet at the request of either side.
(ii) The European Community had recently underlined the importance of industrial cooperation with third countries.
(iii) The EC Council of Ministers agreed to extend on a case-by-case basis, the operation of the European Investment Bank to projects of mutual interest in countries with which the EC had concluded a cooperation agreement. Initially a total of 250 million ecu a year would be made available during a three year period.
(iv) ASEAN institutions have the possibility on a project by project basis to participate in certain areas of the EC Framework Programme III in research and development.
The Ministers welcomed the decisions taken at the Tenth ASEAN-EC Joint Cooperation Committee on priorities for future cooperation and measures including the expansion of bilateral ASEAN-EC trade and investment, and the establishment of various specialized JCC sub-committees to propose suitable programmes in the priority sectors.
When differences exist, the Ministers considered that they should be settled in a peaceful and negotiated manner in accordance with the spirit of dialogue and cooperation existing between the EC and ASEAN and in accordance with the principles of the United Nations Charter.
TRADE AND COMMERCIAL COOPERATION
The Ministers noted with satisfaction that ASEAN-EC trade had grown significantly since their ninth meeting. ASEAN’s exports to the European Community continued to grow faster than its exports to any other market and the EC was now its second largest market for manufactured goods. EC’s exports to ASEAN had expanded at a higher rate than to any other region in the world. Two-way trade now exceeded $50 billion.
Taking note of the decisions at the Tenth ASEAN-EC Joint Cooperation Committee, the Ministers agreed that:
(i) Each side would continue to improve access to its market to maintain these high rates of growth in two-way trade.
(ii) Both sides would continue to improve access and enhance rapid information networks linking business operators in the two regions, for example, through the establishment of business information centres and networks of European Chambers of Commerce in ASEAN.
(iii) The EC would provide more systematic information on the Single European Market with the view to assisting ASEAN to adjust to changes and market opportunities arising therefrom.
The Ministers agreed that the EC GSP Scheme was an important mechanism to diversify and increase ASEAN exports to EC; five ASEAN member countries were among the top twelve users of the scheme. The Ministers noted that the EC envisaged implementing a new GSP scheme from 1994 and that there would be opportunities for further discussions between ASEAN and the EC.
The Ministers noted the value of trade promotion programmes in increasing two-way trade and recognized that the EC assistance in this field had contributed to ASEAN export diversification and agreed that such assistance would be continued.
INDUSTRIAL AND INVESTMENT COOPERATION
The Ministers agreed that industrial and investment cooperation should be accorded high priority in ASEAN-EC relations and emphasized that it was becoming more urgent because the EC had not kept pace with the post 1988 investment boom in ASEAN. It was essential therefore to promote European direct investment into ASEAN, to increase the presence of European industry in the region, taking account of industrial complementarities, and to accelerate transfer of technology. They agreed that programmes would be established to these ends.
The Ministers reaffirmed the importance of private sector participation in ASEAN-EC industrial and investment cooperation. They agreed to encourage their private sectors to participate in the various ASEAN industrial programmes and in the EC Investment Partner (ECIP) scheme in order to realize more ASEAN – EC joint venture projects. In this regard, the Ministers also agreed that the information on business opportunities, new policy directives, rules and regulations in both regions should be widely disseminated to their private sectors.
The Ministers welcomed the extension of the ECIP scheme which had financed over 100 potential joint ventures between companies in the EC and ASEAN since it began in 1989 and the increase in the resources for each ECIP project to 1 million ecu,
The Ministers also agreed on the need to continue to improve the investment climate, including the protection of investments and intellectual property rights. This would help to promote technology transfer, to encourage inward investments and to develop trade. The Ministers commended the 7.5 million ecu ASEAN-EC Patents and Trademarks Programme.
ECONOMIC AND DEVELOPMENT COOPERATION
The Ministers had fruitful exchange of views on the basic principles and priorities guiding their economic and development cooperation policies.
The Ministers considered constructive the recent decisions taken at the ASEAN-EC Joint Cooperation Committee to improve the criteria for regional projects and programmes.
They noted that the development cooperation would be aimed at poverty alleviation programmes conducted with individual ASEAN member countries.
COOPERATION IN ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AND SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT
The Ministers reaffirmed the importance of environment protection and sustainable development both for the present and future generations. They reiterated that environment protection and sustainable development are mutually reinforcing and interrelated.
In this regard, the Ministers welcomed the special resources which the EC had set aside for environmental protection including the conservation and sustainable management of the tropical forests. The Ministers underlined the urgent need for plans of action of forestry cooperation.
The Ministers noted the launching of several programmes for the protection of the urban and industrial environment. The Ministers commended the forthcoming establishment of the EC-Singapore Regional Environment Technology Institute.
The Ministers agreed that the present future needs of the ASEAN region in safeguarding the quality of, the environment, the development of long-term plans, and the effective utilization of EC-ASEAN bilateral funding available for environmental protection should be pursued in the relevant ASEAN-EC fora.
OTHER PRIORITY SECTORS FOR COOPERATION
Apart from the priorities above, the Ministers particularly noted that:
(i) On human resources development, joint training activities were already underway which concentrated on skills upgrading. They also welcomed the establishment of the ASEAN-EC Management Centre in Brunei Darussalam.
(ii) On science and technology, the Ministers reaffirmed the importance of ASEAN-EC cooperation in this field. They welcomed the cooperation efforts of the EC to strengthen the institutional capabilities of ASEAN in this area as well as the rapid increase in joint scientific research under the EC’s Life Science and Technologies for Developing Countries Programme contributing to sustainable development, and underlined the need for programmes promoting technology transfer capable of commercial applications in specific ASEAN industrial sectors.
(iii) On energy cooperation, they welcomed the decisions taken at the Tenth ASEAN-EC Joint Cooperation Committee to promote energy cooperation so as to assist the strengthening of energy planning and management capabilities by reinforcing energy technology in an environmentally sound manner in the ASEAN member countries and creating favorable conditions for greater presence of European energy technologies in ASEAN.
(iv) On the fight against narcotics, they emphasized the importance of increasing the efficiency of policies and measures to counter the supply and illicit traffic of narcotics and psychotropic substances, the laundering of financial proceeds from such activities and the diversion of trade precursor chemicals, as well as measures to prevent and reduce drug abuse.
POLITICAL, SECURITY AND ECONOMIC ISSUES OF COMMON CONCERN
The Ministers held the view that the end of the Cold War presented unprecedented opportunities for enhanced cooperation between developed and developing nations. They called for renewed international cooperation to address the multifarious concerns of developing nations such as the eradications of poverty, debt relief, access markets, transfer of technology and environmental protection.
The Ministers acknowledged the need to enhance cooperation between the two regions to resolve both international and bilateral and commodities issues, particularly in liberalizing the world trading system and bringing about better market access for processed products as well as better prices for primary commodities.
On the issues of eco-labelling, the Ministers urged all countries not to resort to actions not in accordance with international agreements such as GATT and ITTA. They agreed on the need for cooperative efforts in addressing this issue.
The Ministers took note of the negotiation for new International Agreements for coffee, cocoa and natural rubber, which may over time result in better prices as weli as price stability for these commodities, They also noted on the eve of the renegotiation of the International Tropical Timber Agreement, that ITTA had provided a valuable forum for a constructive dialogue between major tropical timber consuming and producing countries, and had succeeded in developing principles for the sustainable management of forests, and agreeing on Target 2000.
Straits of Malacca
The Ministers recognized the Straits of Malacca as one of the busiest Straits used for international navigation. Noting the recent spate of incidents, they agreed on an urgent need for the relevant littoral states, maritime nations and other users of the Straits to investigate the causes of the incidents and to find effective solutions in accordance with international maritime law, to ensure the safety of navigation as well as to safeguard the marine environment.
Follow-Up to the Rio Summit
The Ministers agreed that the Rio Summit was a significant step forward in the recognition of interdependence and need for global partnership for sustainable development and environment protection. They undertook to work together to further that cause.
World Conference on Human Rights
The Ministers reviewed the progress in the preparations for the World Conference on Human Rights, to be held in Vienna in June 1993.
They agreed on the need to finalize as soon as possible the Conference Agenda so that work could begin on the Draft Final Document for the Conference. Both sides were convinced that, given a positive political commitment on all sides, an agenda could be agreed, allowing all delegations to address relevant issues of particular concern to them.
The Ministers emphasized their common commitment, in accordance with the United Nations Charter and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, to the promotion of and respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, development, democracy and greater social justice and agreed to continue their dialogue and cooperation on these issues.
Central and Eastern Europe and the Former Soviet Union
The Ministers reviewed developments in the countries of Central and Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union and noted in particular the difficulties facing the Central Asian states. The Ministers welcomed the processes of political and economic reforms in those countries.
Situation in Former Yugoslavia
The Ministers expressed grave concern over the tragic situation in former Yugoslavia. They condemned the massive violation of human rights and the wanton disregard of the basic precepts of international humanitarian law. They called for an immediate end to the obnoxious practice of “ethnic cleansing” principally in Bosnia and Herzegovina, with the return of displaced persons to their homes, and for the dismantling of camps, prisons and other places of detention . The Ministers supported the continuing efforts of Lord Owen and Cyprus Vance in Geneva to solve the problems in former Yugoslavia and in particular to bring about a political solution on Bosnia which commands the support of Bosnian Muslims, Croats and Serbs.
The Ministers called for full support of UN Security Council Resolutions No. 770 (1992) relating to the effectiveness of the United Nations Protection Force (UNPROFOR) in carrying out its tasks of peacekeeping, protection and ensuring delivery of humanitarian relief throughout the former Yugoslavia, and No. 780 (1992) providing for the creation of an impartial commission of experts to assist the UN Secretary-General in the collation and analysis of evidence of war crimes in former Yugoslavia.
Asia – Pacific
Determined to take advantage of the end of the Cold War and to reinforce security and stability in the Southeast Asian region, the EC Ministers welcomed the accession of Vietnam and Laos to the ASEAN Treaty of Amity and Cooperation in Southeast Asia in ensuring lasting regional peace and stability in the Asia Pacific region.
South China Sea
Emphasizing the need to resolve all sovereignty and jurisdictional issues pertaining to the South China Sea by peaceful means and without resort to force, the EC Ministers endorsed the ASEAN Declaration on the South China Sea issued in Manila in July 1992 and called on the regional powers to work to this end.
The Ministers noted that the workshops on the South China Sea held in Indonesia had contributed to a better understanding of the issues involved. They hoped that further talks among the concerned parties to explore possibilities of joint cooperation in the South China Sea could be held at an appropriate date.
The Ministers under lined their commitment to the peace process in Cambodia and the importance of persevering with the implementation plan on schedule, despite the difficulties encountered in the implementation of phase 2 of the Paris Agreements, particularly cantonment and demobilization and free access by UNTAC. They called on all the parties to observe scrupulously their obligations, as underlined by Security Council Resolution 783, allowing registration to proceed on time for election to the Constituent Assembly in April/May 1993. They welcomed initiatives now underway to secure cooperation of all parties towards the final implementation of the Paris Agreements. The Ministers noted the sizeable contribution that ASEAN and EC member states were making to the UNTAC operations.
TheMinisters reiterated their recognition of the leadership of Prince Sihanouk, Chairman of the SNC, as vital to the maintenance of peace and stability in Cambodia as well as to the rebuilding of that country.
The Ministers welcomed their success so far of the repatriation programme for Cambodian displaced persons and encouraged the UNHCR to complete the process in time for the elections in Cambodia in April/May 1993.
The Ministers welcomed recent political developments in Vietnam, efforts to move towards a market economy and closer economic relations with the rest of Southeast Asia. They recognized the importance of the early normalization of Vietnam’s relations with the international financial institutions.
COMPREHENSIVE PLAN OF ACTION
The Ministers reviewed the implementation of the Comprehensive Plan of Action for Indo-Chinese refugees. They welcomed the progress that has been made so far. They called on the international donor community to continue to fund generously the annual UNHCR CPA appeal and the various programmes for the repatriation to and reintegration of non-refugees in Vietnam, in particular the international programme initiated by the EC. The Ministers, noting the three year time frame envisaged at the UN International Conference on Indo-Chinese refugees held in Geneva in June 1989, called on the UNHCRto accelerate the resettlement of refugees in third countries, including in particular the long-stayers. They highlighted the need to repatriate soon the tens of thousands of non-refugees in the countries of first asylum in the region,
Bearing in mind the respective positions set out in various fora by the two sides, the Ministers expressed the hope that the Myanmar government would make further progress towards political and economic reforms.
Finally, the Ministers decided :
(i) to strengthen cooperation, building on the 1980 Cooperation Agreement, to their mutual advantage;
(ii) to promote further ASEAN-EC bilateral trade and investments, taking account of their respective economic situations;
(iii) to intensify their close dialogue on all areas of mutual interest and priorities of importance to both regions, through the mechanisms for consultation and dialogue agreed between them;
(iv) henceforth to conduct their dialogue at the level of both Ministers and Senior Officials; Ministers will meet at least once every two years and the Senior Officials will meet in the intervening years between the meetings of the Ministers.