Dr Yeo Lay Hwee, Director of the EU Centre in Singapore wrote of her wish for “An ASEM Open and Fair Trade Area” as 53 European and Asian leaders prepare to travel to Brussels on 18-19 October to attend the 12th Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) Summit. The ASEM platform which connects Asia and Europe is becoming ever more important as we confront a unilateral America that is quick to resort to bullying and arm-twisting tactics to get its own way.
To counter the current tirades against free trade and the impulse to pull the drawbridge, ASEM leaders should use the upcoming Summit to issue a simple declaration calling for the first ever ASEM Open and Fair Trade agreement. Such declaration, even if it were only aspirational, issued by ASEM that has 53 partners, representing 62% of the global population, 57% of global GDP and 66% of world trade, would send a strong signal that Asia and Europe stand ready to defend openness and refrain from the protectionist antics of the US.
Dr Yeo’s paper “ASEM Open and Free Trade Area – From Vision to Reality” is available here, and is one of the several contributions to be published by Friends of Europe in a special edition on ASEM and Asia-Europe relations.