Merkel pushes EU, Southeast Asia free trade pact

July 12, 2012
Reset Text smaller larger

JAKARTA, Indonesia – German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Wednesday (July 11th) said Europe must step up its efforts to establish a free trade pact with booming Southeast Asia.

"I am deeply convinced that Europe has to hurry up in setting up a free trade agreement with this region if it wants to be able to compete," she said during a visit to Jakarta, according to AFP.

As European nations are struggling to climb out of debt, Southeast Asian nations are experiencing strong growth. Indonesia grew 6.5% in 2011 and is forecast to grow at the same pace this year.

On Tuesday, Merkel and Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono pledged to boost trade, which now stands at around $7 billion, and Indonesian officials forecast it to reach $12 billion by 2014.

ASEAN as a whole represents the EU's third-largest trading partner outside Europe, with more than 206 billion euros ($253 billion) of trade in goods and services in 2011, according to the European Commission.

The EU is ASEAN's second-largest trading partner after China, accounting for around 11% of ASEAN trade.

Add A Comment (Comments Policy)* denotes required field

Poll

Are extremist groups distorting the true meaning of jihad to recruit fighters for the Syrian civil war?

View Results

Photo Essay

Mariyah Nibosu, whose husband was shot dead in 2009 by unknown gunmen, stands outside her home in September 2013 in the state-run 'widows' village' of Rotan Batu, 20km from Narathiwat. "Women suffer a lot here," she said. "But we are strong. We have to feed our children by ourselves. We have to survive." [Christophe Archambault/AFP]

As Thailand's Deep South insurgency drags on, families suffer, persevere