The ASEAN-EU ministerial meeting in Bangkok on 13-14 October was a quiet success although overshadowed by the death of the King of Thailand. The two sides reinforced their determination to deepen relations, had good discussions on common security challenges, and agreed to launch talks on a new Comprehensive Air Transport Agreement aimed at increasing flights between the two regions.
Ten EU foreign ministers made the journey to Bangkok with five on the ASEAN side. As Federica Mogherini was ill the EU delegation was led by Slovak Foreign Minister Miroslav Lajcak who reminded the meeting that the EU was the largest investor in the region and would continue pursuing its aim of bilateral FTAs with a view to a region to region FTA at a later date. He also promised that the EU would continue to support regional development including the Lower Mekong delta project.
By Fraser Cameron, Director
Like Europe Asia was stunned at the victory of Donald Trump. Asian leaders were planning on continuity of US policy with Hillary Clinton, one of the architects of the US pivot to Asia, in the White House. Now everything is in the air and uncertainty, whether in security or trade or human rights, reigns supreme.
Developing Asia is expected to grow steadily despite external pressures and should meet earlier forecasts for 2016 and 2017, aided by resilience in the region's two largest economies—the People's Republic of China and India, says a new Asian Development Bank (ADB) study.
In an update of its flagship annual economic publication, Asian Development Outlook (ADO) 2016, ADB kept its 2016 and 2017 gross domestic product (GDP) growth forecasts unchanged from its March estimates of 5.7% for each year.
Africa, often described as the lost continent, is rising fast despite many problems. There are 54 countries in Africa, many landlocked and very poor. There are many conflicts - Mali, Chad, South-Sudan, etc which show no sign of diminishing. Africa’s economic output is $1.6 trillion or just 2.5% of global GDP. But six of the world’s ten fastest growing economies are in Africa and it is expected that its population will increase from one to two billion by 2050.
Against this background both the EU and China are seeking new strategies to deal with Africa. The influence of China is rapidly increasing. Its exports to Africa have tripled in the past decade and now account for 20% of all imports. The EU’s and China’s agenda in and for Africa have often been perceived as being at odds. The annual EU-China discussions on Africa have produced few concrete results as regards possible areas for cooperation. This is perhaps rooted in the different interests, aims and profiles of both actors. While both entities seek to promote beneficial developmental models in Africa they proceed on very different principles.
EU-ASIA Centre is a think tank dedicated to promoting closer relations between the EU and Asia.
25 November 2016
17 October 2016