ASEAN and EU collaborate to enhance knowledge of ASEAN officials, academicians, and private sector representatives on international trading rules on goods, special treatment for least developing countries and negotiating free trade agreements (FTAs) by arranging 4-day training workshop in Vientiane, Lao PDR last week.

In his opening remarks, H.E Michel Goffin, Charge de Affaires of the European Union Delegation to the Lao PDR highlighted the main objective of the Programme, which is to facilitate participation of the ASEAN Member States in FTA negotiating processes through strengthening negotiating capacity of the ASEAN negotiators while simultaneously raising public awareness.

Throughout the training, participants received high-quality, intensive and interactive sessions on the importance of Non-Agricultural Market Access (NAMA) and Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) in the world trading system from prominent experts, namely; Ms. Kamala Dawar and Dr. Edwini Kwame Kessie.

Participants also took part in a short yet lively session on bilateral FTA negotiations simulations, which enabled them to directly apply trade negotiating principals they have gained into practice. In this activity, participants were not only able to recognise elaborate and extensive preparation in forming negotiation strategies, but also the importance of engaging and keeping all stakeholders informed on progress and outcomes of the FTA negotiations.

This workshop was the sixth training workshop convened under the Enhancing ASEAN FTA Negotiating Capacity Programme between the ASEAN and the EU. The next couple of training workshops planned for 2013 in ASEAN Member States will focus on investment and legal/institutional mechanisms. The programme which ends in mid-2013 consists of in-country trainings in several ASEAN Member States, public dialogue and forum as well as developing a citizen’s guide on ASEAN-EU relations.