ASEM summit will seek to promote inclusive growth

14 October 2014

Source: Channel News Asia (Singapore)
Source type: TV
Published on: 01 Oct 2010

SINGAPORE : This year's 8th Asia-Europe Meeting comes on the back of a global economic recovery, with the theme "Improving the Quality of Life".

The broad topic seeks to promote inclusive growth and consensus on issues such as climate change and security.

The summit, to be attended by heads of state from more than 40 economies, including Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, will be held in Brussels, Belgium from October 4 to 5.

This year's meeting follows the last summit in Beijing during the height of the financial crisis in 2008.

Observers say talks on financial market regulations and growth stimulus packages will still continue. However, a new focus will be on how to better coordinate the distribution of development aid.

Holger Standertskjold, Ambassador, European Union, said: "There has to be inclusiveness in the societies who might be marginalised. We know that there is a lot of poverty still in Asia and there is a lot of inequality.

"And also in Europe, we have issues and we have to see how we distribute our development aid - that it is done in the correct manner so that it reaches those who are in need.

"That is very important - that aid is targeted so that it can be best used by those who need it, that the aid that we are giving is also really developing the country, that it's put to good use."

"That there is cooperation between the country in question that gets the aid and those who give the aid, and the aid is aid that will improve the quality of the economy and the quality of life".

With the debt crisis in Europe casting a shadow over the global economic recovery, leaders are also expected to push for further economic engagement.

Ambassador Standertskjold said: "Financial crisis had a huge impact obviously, and it changed the rhythm with which the trade was going ... that was suddenly cut off as far as investments were concerned".

With Asia and the European Union accounting for 60 per cent of the world's population and trade, observers say re-igniting trade links between the two regions is key to sustaining global economic recovery.

To this end, the EU is looking at several Free Trade Agreements with member economies.

Ambassador Standertskjold said talks on the EU-Singapore trade deal, which started 9 months ago, is on track, with another round of discussion expected in November.

The Asia-Europe Meeting started 14 years ago as a platform to bridge the two regions and since then trade between the regions have grown exponentially.

The EU is ASEAN's largest trading partner and Singapore's top trading partner in 2009 with 87 billion dollars worth of goods shipped despite the global financial crisis.

Singapore's service industry has a strong presence in the EU with representations in sectors such as banking, shipping, telecommunications, hotels and air transport.

For host country Belgium, it hopes to jump start trade talks. Its Ambassador to Singapore, Roland Van Remoortele, also hopes for better engagement between the two countries.

He said: "We're very similar - we're both at the centre of our respective regions. Singapore is a base for the rest of Southeast Asia and I see Belgium and we position ourselves as the distribution base for the rest of Europe."

Ambassador Remoortele added that more can also be done to promote academic exchanges between both sides.

He said: "I feel we don't do enough in the field of academic exchanges. We have very few Singapore students in Belgium - about 29, I think, at the last count. We do have a good dozen or so Belgium students in Singapore.

"We're making an effort to make it known that MBA students, graduate students, post graduate students can now do their studies in English and now, moreover, we have a good argument to persuade people to go and study in Belgium because it's a lot cheaper.

Climate change will be another topic that will take centrestage, ahead of a Cancun conference a few weeks later.