Source: Xinhua (China)
Source type: News Agency
Published on: 05 Oct 2010
The ASEM summit, a key forum for dialogue between Asian and European countries, is held biennially, with Asian and European countries to be the host alternately. Belgium is hosting the eighth edition of the ASEM summits in history, while the first one was held in Thailand in 1996.
There are currently 45 members in the ASEM. Three new countries, namely Russia, Australia and New Zealand, are expected to join, bringing the total membership of the ASEM from 26 at its birth to 48.
Among the 48 members, there are 29 from the European side, namely the 27 European Union (EU) member states, the European Commission and Russia, and there are 19 from the Asian side, including 18 Asian countries and the ASEAN Secretariat.
For the 46 country members of the ASEM, 12 Asian national leaders and 21 European counterparts are present, according to the Belgian government. With President of the European Council Herman Van Rompuy, Secretary-general of the ASEAN Secretariat Surin Pitsuwan and President of the European Commission Jose Manuel Barroso included, there are altogether 36 Asian and European leaders at the summit.
The other countries all sent senior officials above ministerial level, but Singapore's Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has left Brussels and returned home, following news of his mother's death on Saturday.
Figures from the European Commission showed that all the ASEM partners represent half of the world's economic output, almost 60 percent of the world's population and 60 percent of global trade.
Trade among ASEM partners have increased dramatically in recent years. Between 2000 and 2008, EU trade in goods with the 19 countries taking part in the ASEM nearly doubled, before falling by around 20 percent in 2009 due to the financial and economic crisis, according to Eurostat, the EU's statistics office.
Exports rose from 186 billion euros (255 billion U.S. dollars) in 2000 to 371 billion euros (508 billion dollars) in 2008, then fell to 310 billion euros (425 billion dollars) in 2009. Imports increased from 360 billion euros (493 billion dollars) in 2000 to 667 billion euros (914 billion dollars) in 2008, then dropped to 525 billion euros (719 billion dollars) in 2009.
There was renewed growth in trade between the EU and the ASEM partners in the first half of 2010, with total trade volume rebounding by over 25 percent on yearly basis.
In the first half of 2010, the ASEM partners accounted for 29 percent of exports and 45 percent of imports in the EU's total trade in goods, but EU trade with individual ASEM partners showed very different patterns between 2000 and 2009. While trade with China tripled in value in the period, and trade with Russia and India doubled, trade with Japan fell by a third.