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Interview with Gunnar Wiegand, Managing Director Asia and Pacific at the EEAS

17 March 2016

EUAC: Welcome to the new position. What were your first thoughts on being appointed as MD for Asia?

GW: I was delighted to be moving to a region which is characterised by its dynamic growth, its diversity and home to four of the EU’s strategic partners. I travelled frequently to Asia when I was spokesman for Commissioner Chris Patten so I am very pleased to reconnect with Asia.

EUAC: Why does Asia matter to Europe?

GW: As HR/VP Mogherini often says security is global in nature.

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Myanmar new president

Htin Kyaw new President of Myanmar

17 March 2016

Htin Kyaw, a close ally of Aung San Suu Kyi, whose National League for Democracy (NLD) party swept to victory in historic elections in November, has been elected Myanmar’s first civilian president for over half a century.

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sanctions DPRK

Tough New UN Sanctions on DPRK

29 February 2016

The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) has agreed on tough new sanctions in response to North Korea\'s recent nuclear test and missile launch. Over the past 10 years, North Korea has conducted four nuclear tests and launched six long-range missiles - all in violation of Security Council resolutions.

After lengthy negotiations, principally between the US and China, both sides accepted the need to send a strong signal to Pyongyang by imposing the strongest set of sanctions imposed by the Security Council in more than 20 years.

The new sanctions aim to cut off the trade and funding of North Korea’s nuclear programme and its military, and to target the DPRK leadership and officials directly involved in these illicit activities. These include:

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vietnam party congress

Continuity in Vietnam

4 February 2016

The EU does not expect any major changes following the results of the communist party congress in Hanoi. Officials consider that the re-election of General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong will provide for stability and continuity. The challenge of Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung failed as he had insufficient support within the party, with many of the old guard worried that he was pushing ahead too fast with his reform programme. Little is known about Deputy Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc who will replace Dung in a few months, nor the Minister of Public Security Tran Dai Quang, who will be the country\'s new president.

As regards EU-Vietnam relations both sides are pleased that the partnership and cooperation agreement (PCA) is nearly ratified – only three Member States still to ratify. The FTA is also complete and is being prepared for ratification. 

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Tsai Ing Wen

Change in Taiwan

18 January 2016

The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) won a sweeping victory in the presidential and legislative elections that Taiwan held on 16 January. Tsai Ing-wen, the DPP\'s chairperson, becomes the first female president in Taiwan’s history. She defeated Eric Chu, the Kuomintang (KMT) candidate by 56% to 30%. The DPP will also have an absolute majority in the new legislature.

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shanghai port

Prospect for Asia 2016

28 December 2015

With China taking over as chair of the G20 and Japan chair of the G7 much of the world’s attention will be focused on Asia in 2016. Politically there are likely to be few major changes apart from Taiwan. Leadership changes are not due in any of the EU’s Asian strategic partners – China, Japan, Korea and India.

On the economic front Europe can only dream of the projected growth rates for Asia in 2016. Yet these growth rates are the lowest in the past decade. Although there are slight differences in their projections, the IMF, ADB and OECD all expect Asia to grow at over 6% in 2016. Growth in China (6.5%) will continue to slow while growth in India (8.2%) will be one of the highest levels in the region. Growth in ASEAN is projected at 5.8% in 2016.

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Myanmar post-elections

Landslide victory for Aung San Suu Kyi

25 November 2015

‘Time for Change’ was the election campaign slogan of Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD). Despite their landslide victory and gaining 78.3% of contested seats, change is likely to be careful and gradual. The military, unlike in 1990, does not need to crack down on the pro-democracy movement. Under the 2008 constitution that it pushed through parliament it can control the direction and pace of political change in Myanmar. In cases of ‘emergency’ the self-proclaimed custodian of the country can take over the government; the military continues to hold the most powerful ministries as well as 25% of seats in both houses. The official election results announced on 20 November put the NLD’s victory into perspective. 78.3% of contested seats translates into controlling 58.7% of parliament, enough to govern alone, but not enough to change the constitution which requires approval of 75% of parliament.

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EU-Philippines FTA Talks to Start

16 November 2015


The Council on 16 November 2015 gave the go-ahead for negotiations to start on a free trade agreement with the Philippines.

The negotiations will be led by the Commission on behalf of the EU, in consultation with the Council\'s Trade Policy Committee. The Council encouraged it to take an ambitious approach.

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ASEM Luxemburg

ASEM Foreign Ministers meet in Luxemburg

9 November 2015

53 Foreign or Deputy Foreign Ministers met in Luxemburg on 5-7 November for the biannual Asia-Europe meeting. The ministerial was partly to review the international scene and partly to discuss closer EU-Asia cooperation, including the future of ASEM itself. Next July government leaders will meet in Ulan Bator for the ASEM summit.

In Luxemburg ministers agreed on the need for an ambitious climate change outcome at COP 21 although there were no specific commitments.

The second big issue on the table was strengthening connectivity between Europe and Asia from physical infrastructures, transport, energy, digital connectivity to people-to-people linkages.

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trilateral summit

Asia Summit Season in Full Swing

5 November 2015

Asian leaders can keep their suitcases ready as they fly off to a succession of summits in the coming weeks. Last weekend the leaders of China, Japan and South Korea met after a three-year break in what was supposed to be an annual summit. The forthcoming ASEAN summit will be followed by the APEC and East Asia summits. Many leaders will also meet during the G20 and COP 21 summits in Turkey and France. There are also several bilateral summits coming up with the meeting between President Xi and President Ma of Taiwan perhaps the most important as it marks a first in cross-straits relations. The two Chinese leaders will meet in Singapore and in an interesting piece of summit diplomacy have agreed to split the bill – to avoid either being seen to ‘invite’ the other. President Xi will also be visiting Vietnam on 6 November en route to the Singapore dinner.

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