Governments of Asean and EU countries should further facilitate bilateral trade and investment by their business communities through efficient cooperation mechanisms as well as transparent and fair economic policies.

This was the message put forward at the 3rd Asean-EU Business Summit, which wrapped up in Hanoi on Saturday with the participation of 700 businesses from the two regions.

Part of the 19th Asean Economic Ministers’ Retreat, the event was jointly organised by the Ministry of Industry and Trade and the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

Asean Secretary General Le Luong Minh said despite risks caused by the global economic climate, Asean and the EU still possessed favourable conditions for economic development.

The two sides should tighten their coordination to cope with the impacts of the global economic turmoil because no country could separately respond to the situation, he stressed.

Acknowledging the significant role of the business community, Minh proposed that the governments remove factors causing unstable macro-economies and regularly hold dialogues between governments and enterprises about the issues of markets, Minh said.

EU Trade Commissioner Karel de Gucht said Asean was one of the EU’s biggest trade partners and the EU was also one of Asean’s biggest investors, but to maintain these positions the governments needed to continue reducing trade barriers, creating favourable conditions for enterprises to do business in the two regions.

They should support enterprises to create more jobs, more added value and more growth, he said.

Despite some conflicts and differences in perception, issues that brought benefits to both Asean and EU enterprises could be solved through straightforward dialogue.

Negotiations for Asean-EU free trade agreement should be accelerated to create a legal framework for bilateral relationships, the Commissioner added.

The Asean-EU Trade and Investment Work Programme for 2013-14 adopted in the Asean Economic Ministers-EU Consultations meeting, was expected to improve the two-way trade relations and investment between the two blocs, he said.

Chairman of the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry Vu Tien Loc said the EU and a number of Asean countries, including Vietnam, were negotiating bilateral free trade agreements (FTA) and several positive achievements had been reached.

Notably, the FTA between EU and Singapore would be a good facilitator for the co-operation because 30 per cent of Asean-EU trade was conducted through Singapore’s gates, Loc said.

Proposing recommendations to governments of Asean countries, Chairman of EuroCham Vietnam Prehen Hjortlund, said enterprises when doing business or making investment in Asean all wished to access transparent, clear and fair investment regulations.

This meant that the governments should have non-discriminatory treatment to all enterprises whether they came from host country, Asean countries or the EU.

Besides, in the Asean Economic Ministers-EU Consultations meeting, business representatives from Asean and EU have called on the governments of Asean and EU countries to minimise non-tariff barriers and harmonise procedures and regulations on goods and services to further facilitate investment and trade activities.

The businesses also asked Asean member countries to facilitate the flow of human resources within the region by harmonising standards and procedures in terms of labour training, immigration and security.

In particular, they urged Asean to build a common set of regulations in finance and banking, and a joint payment mechanism among Asean’s banks to serve businesses in the region.

As Asean’s co-ordinator of its economic co-operation with the EU, Vietnam supports the development of more intense and effective trade and investment cooperation between the two blocs in order to reach a new height.

Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung made the affirmation while delivering the opening speech at the summit.

Dung said Asean was making efforts to cooperate more intensively and extensively with partners in the region and world, and the EU was a partner that Asean always attached importance to working with for sustainable development and common prosperity, he affirmed.

Since it joined Asean in 1995, Vietnam had been an active and responsible member of the group, Dung said, citing the country’s contributions to building Asean into a united and strong bloc for prosperity and co-operation in the region.

He added that the country was becoming a gateway for international investors and businesses to access and expand their investment in the region as well as free trade markets between Asean and partners.

“We praise and encourage the involvement of the business community in joint efforts to enhance relations between the EU and Asean,” he said.

The PM described effective investment cooperation and the successful operations of businesses as a foundation and important contribution to Asean-EU relations. –Business Desk, Viet Nam News