A critical meeting at a critical time

14 October 2014

Source: The Korea Herald (Korea, Republic of)
Source type: Newspaper
Published on: 03 Oct 2010
The 8th ASEM Summit, a vital forum for dialogue between Europe and Asia will convene in Brussels, Belgium. The biennial international meeting will bring together leaders from 27 member states of the European Union with 16 Asian countries, the European Commission and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations Secretariat.

"The meeting aims at enhancing the dialogue on current political, economic, financial and socio-cultural issues," said Belgium Ambassador Pierre Clement Dubuisson.

"It also is an important platform to stimulate rapprochement and partnership among participants," he added.

The Asia-Europe Meeting will also officially welcome new members Australia, New Zealand and Russia.

The substance of the ASEM meeting, coordinated by the host country Belgium, who also holds the European Union presidency, comprises of subjects of a priority interest for both Asia and Europe.

As decided by the participants, the sessions will address global economic governance; sustainable development; global issues including human rights, disaster relief, nonproliferation, terrorism and organized crime; regional issues as well as people-to-people contacts, visibility and the future of ASEM meetings.

Former EU Ambassador Brian McDonald, who finished his term in Seoul last week, explained that the meetings "are very productive" because Asian countries are "very interested in getting our perspective" on various issues.

McDonald got involved with the summit meetings in 1997 after serving in Hong Kong.

"I found it a very useful exercise. We did a lot of things, had concrete results in terms of operations," he said. "Other results were more in the nature of soft power and listening to each other about various issues so it was always a useful forum for exchanging views and for having a better understanding for each other's position."

Nearly all ASEM partners will be represented at the highest level including business leaders from both sides.

The Asia-Europe Business Forum is one of the parallel events at the ASEM Summit and will be held later today also in Brussels.

The AEBF will be attended by some 250 high profile business executives and offers a discussion platform for business leaders to develop recommendations to the governments.

This year's forum will focus on the financial sector, its main theme being "Financial Services Industry: Opportunities and Challenges for Asia and Europe."

From South Korea, Kim Ok-chan, executive director of strategy and finance at Kookmin Bank explained that his bank is looking to open new branches in Europe.

"Through this opportunity we would like to find more avenues for cooperation with European financial institutions and have more interactions with Asian financial institutions who will participate at the meetings," he said. "We would also like to see how the European financial sector is recovering."

Ki Dong-hwan, managing director of global market and strategy at Woori Investment and Securities, is curious about how other institutions will overcome the world financial crisis that is still lingering in Europe.

"We will share ideas," Ki said, and also "look at having more of a presence in Europe."

Dubuisson noted that the meetings are "very useful" because they take place just after the United Nations General Assembly's annual high-level gathering, a month before the G20 Summit in Seoul and in between the two climate change summits of Copenhagen and Cancun.

The 45 ASEM partners represent half of the world's GDP, almost 60 percent of the world's population and 60 percent of global trade.

By Yoav Cerralbo (yoav@heraldm.com), The Korea Herald http://www.koreaherald.com/national/Detail.jsp?newsMLId=20101003000392