ASEAN-EU summit to create greater business opportuntiies

Jakarta (ANTARA News) - Coordinating Minister for Economic Affairs Hatta Rajasa is convinced that the first ever ASEAN-European Union Business Summit held here on Thursday will create bigger business opportunities for the two regional groupings.

"I am convinced the event will open larger business opportunities for the two regions," Hatta said in his opening address to the meeting held as part of the 18th ASEAN Summit at the Jakarta Convention Center.

President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono opened the summit which was also attended by Trade Minister Mari Elka Pangestu, ASEAN Secretary General Surin Pitsuwan, and EU Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht.

"I also call on business leaders in the two regions to figure out what kind of policies are good for trade growth to policy makers. The most important thing is how trade policies can boost the sector under a very positive business climate," Hatta said.

He said the ASEAN-EU Business Summit was a milestone in the history of the two regions` business relations.

"I hope that this event will enable us to better deal with the existing challenges," he said adding that to be able to follow up on the summit there would be more business-to-business and business-to-government contacts.

He further expressed optimism that the event would contribute significantly to extended collaboration between the two regions and lay strong foundations for trade and investment negotiations.

Trade between EU and ASEAN last year reached 147 trillion euros. EU is ASEAN`s second biggest trade partner while ASEAN is EU`s fifth biggest trade partner. EU is also the biggest investor in Southeast Asia.

ASEAN-EU Business Summit is a high level forum for business players and governments to deal with problems arising from trade relations between the two regional groupings.

Trade Minister Mari Elka Pangestu who is also chief of ASEAN economic ministers said earlier the summit was intended to look into business and investment opportunities in both sides.

The outcome of the summit will be brought to an annual meeting of ASEAN and EU economic ministers for approval.(*)