Southeast Asian nations and the European Union agreed Friday to start free trade talks.
The decision was made in Brunei where economic ministers of the 10 member nations of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations met with their counterparts from Europe and Japan, said ASEAN secretary-general Ong Keng Yong. The two-day meeting ended Friday.
"We agreed to launch ASEAN-EU FTA negotiations. We will establish a joint working committee to work on this. They will address all thorny issues," Ong told The Associated Press in a telephone interview from Brunei's capital Bandar Seri Begawan.
"The journey is still very long but we have taken it to the next step already after talking for more than 2 1/2 years."
The EU was ASEAN's third-largest trading partner in 2005, with total trade of $140.5 billion, according to the ASEAN web site.
ASEAN ministers also moved closer to forging a free trade pact with Japan by November after both sides bridged differences over tariff cuts, Ong said.
Last Mod: 04 Mayıs 2007, 13:20