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EU- Southeast Asia

Overview of EU Trade Policy in Southeast Asia

By Lena Muxfeldt

11 June 2013

This policy briefing provides an overview of European Union (EU) trade policy in Southeast Asia. Examining current and forthcoming free trade agreement (FTA) negotiations in the context of the Europe 2020 strategy and the shift to bilateral negotiations, the briefing focuses mainly on the current state of play of FTA negotiations with Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam and Malaysia. In addition, it gives an update on the trade relations between the EU and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and individual members who are not yet engaged in bilateral trade negotiations with the EU.

EU trade policy

Although the EU remains committed to multilateralism in trade and the Doha Development Agenda, its current trade policy has shifted towards pursuing bilateral FTAs. In addition to interregional and multilateral efforts, the EU is now also pushing for bilateral economic arrangements. This shift has been due to numerous factors, including difficulties in multilateral trade negotiations, the development of American trade policy and domestic changes within the EU. Considering trade policy developments in Southeast Asia, the most interesting factor for the EU's bilateral negotiation strategy is the region's economic growth. The obvious lack of significant agreements with Asian partners pressurized the EU into finally pursuing bilateral FTAs and strengthening the regional presence of European businesses.


The full briefing paper can be consulted in pdf below. Lena Muxfeldt is associate research fellow of the EU-Asia Centre.

Overview of EU Trade Policy in Southeast Asia