KUALA LUMPUR: The Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) will make way for more trade negotiations to be held between Europe and ASEAN as countries coming onboard the pact will be more competitive in terms of trade and investment.
“We already have seen the completion of free trade agreement (FTA) negotiations with Singapore and Vietnam, both very comprehensive deals.
“Talks with the Philippines should start next year and we remain hopeful that negotiations with Malaysia will resume soon, now that the TPPA has been concluded,” European Union-ASEAN Business Council Executive Director Chris Humphrey told Bernama.
Malaysia and 11 other countries, namely Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Singapore, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, the United States and Vietnam successfully concluded negotiations for the TPP on October 5.
The TPPA covers traditional areas such as market access, technical barriers to trade, sanitary and phytosanitary measures, rules of origin, customs cooperation, investment, services, and legal and institutional issues; and new areas include government procurement, competition, the digital economy, labour, environment and horizontal issues.
Humphrey said the business council strongly advocated that the Europe Union increase engagement with the 10 ASEAN member countries on trade and investment issues.
“We strongly support the move for FTA negotiations to recommence with Malaysia,” he said.
Humphrey also said the European Commission recently published a report on trade policies titled, “Trade for All”, which sets out priorities for trade deals, going forward.
He said the report, which prominently featured Asean, also promised to review relations, in light of the ASEAN Economic Community process, to see if a region-to-region trade deal was feasible.
Turning to TPPA, Humphrey said the deal would not adversely impact the EU’s trade with ASEAN as trading relations have been growing steadily.
EU-ASEAN trade in goods and services grew an average nine per cent over the last 10 years and there was no sign of trade slowing down, he said.
On investments, he said ASEAN was, by far, the largest source of foreign direct investments into the EU.
“The TPPA is potentially a game changer for ASEAN. It is certainly a step up from the average or normal trade agreement,” he said.
Humphrey said four of the ASEAN countries have elected to enter into the agreement and others are now actively contemplating.
“This should help to spur the region forward in terms of economic development and also regional integration,” he said.