Sommaire: EU Commissioner Ferrero-Waldner to visit Malaysia on 9th October (6 October 2006: Brussels)
Commissioner for External Relations and European Neighbourhood Policy, Benita Ferrero-Waldner will visit Malaysia on 9th October for meetings with Foreign Minister Datuk Seri' Syed Hamid Albar and the Chair of the Association of South-East Asian (ASEAN) Eminent Persons Group Tun Musa Hitam. Discussions will cover a wide range of bilateral and regional issues of mutual concern: strengthening EU-Malaysia political and economic relations, a possible Partnership and
Cooperation Agreement between the EU and Malaysia, Malaysia's role in the region, enhancing integration between ASEAN countries and ongoing global issues like interfaith and intercultural dialogue and the fight against terrorism.
On the eve of her visit Commissioner Ferrero-Waldner said: "Malaysia has made remarkable progress over the last decades with extraordinary political and social stability, impressive economic growth and poverty reduction rates. It is now time that this positive trend was reflected in our relationship. This is why the EU is now offering to enter into negotiations for a Partnership and Co-operation Agreement which will support Malaysia in achieving its development to become a prosperous and stable state. Malaysia has also shown that it is possible to combine peaceful and prosperous development within a multi-ethnic and multi-racial society. The European Union wants to engage in a wider interfaith and intercultural dialogue with Malaysia."
She added: "Malaysia is a key player in Southeast Asia and one of the driving forces in ASEAN. In today's world regional cooperation it is the logical way to address the challenges of globalisation and other transnational issues such as the ever increasing threats of terrorism, environmental issues, energy security. Given the EU's successful integration process it is only natural for the EU to support efforts for further integration between the ASEAN countries."
Malaysia and the EU's shared commitment to the continued development of bilateral relations will be at the top of the agenda for this visit. Discussions will cover the already strong trade relations, including our shared commitment to the successful conclusion of the Doha Development Agenda while acknowledging that comprehensive Free Trade Agreements can be an important complement the WTO system and create new economic opportunities. We will also explore how the EU and Malaysia can develop the political side of the partnership. With a focus on further boosting ASEAN integration and building on the non-trade side of relations, discussions will cover transnational challenges such as the fight against terrorism.
Commissioner Ferrero-Waldner´s visit to Malaysia underlines the growing importance of South-east Asia as global player on the international scene. Bilateral economic and commercial ties have increased substantially over the last few decades.
Malaysia is the EU's second most important trading partner in ASEAN, after Singapore. In 2005, the EU was Malaysia's third largest export destination and fifth largest source of imports. Malaysia records a trade surplus with 19 of the 25 EU Member States EU exports to Malaysia valued in 2005 € 9.2 billion whereas EU imports from Malaysia valued € 15.6 billion thus with balance of € 6.4 billion in Malaysia's favour.
No bilateral preferential trade arrangements exist between Malaysia and the EU but under the new Generalised System of Preferences (GSP), in force since 1 January 2006, the share of Malaysia's merchandise exports to the EU eligible for preferential treatment rose from 16% to 81%. Over 70% of Malaysia's exports to the EU now enter duty-free. The EU has been the biggest foreign investor in the Malaysian manufacturing and related services sector in the period 2000-05, accounting for over a quarter of the total value of approved projects with foreign.
The EU is actively supporting ASEAN´s goals to reinforce its own integration process. A dedicated regional co-operation programme contributes to ASEAN's goals for an ASEAN Community by 2020. To this end an "Eminent Persons Group" (EPG) visited Brussels in July to gain knowledge of the European integration experience. The EPG will present its recommendations for an ASEAN Charter at the ASEAN Summit in Cebu in December
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