September 30, 2010
On the 4th and 5th of October, Brussels will host the 8th ASEM summit, involving 45 countries from Asia and Europe. The 16 Asian nations attending and representatives of the 27 EU countries will be admitting Russia, Australia and New Zealand as full members of ASEM. The summit’s theme this year is “Quality of Life”, but the participants will also discuss issues such as piracy on the high seas, reform of the UN, climate change, sustainable development, global economic governance, Iran, North Korea and Myanmar, as well as technological transfers and deepening economic cooperation/trade among its members.
ASEM stands for Asia-Europe Meeting, with the first such meeting taking place in 1996. The 48 countries in the group represent 60 percent of the world’s population and 60 percent of global trade, as well. Malaysia alone, for example, benefitted handsomely from closer economic ties with European Union countries. Thus, for the first 7 months of 2010 bilateral trade with the EU reached 21.5 billion USD, an increase of some 20 percent over last year’s figures. The EU countries have invested 13.6 billion USD, mainly into Malaysia’s manufacturing sector.
This year’s summit is expected to be overshadowed by diplomatic tensions between China and Japan concerning a rather minor East China Sea dispute involving a Chinese fishing boat. It is possible, however, for Japan’s premier Naoto Kan and China’s premier Wen Jiabao to use the occasion to patch up their differences. (sources: Reuters,People’s Daily,Malaysian National News Agency)Florian Pantazi