Economic &
Financial Pillar

Economic Partnerships

A major component of the ASEM dialogue is its focus on economic and financial issues of common interest to members. The aim of ASEM economic cooperation is to increase trade and investment flows between Asia and Europe and to do so applying fully World Trade Organization (WTO) rules that reduce trade barriers and increase market access between the two regions. ASEM Leaders established the Asia-Europe Business Forum to encourage links between the governmental and private business sectors, including small and medium sized enterprises, of the two regions. These links support the measures to increase trade and investment flows between Asia and Europe.


Areas of discussion that fall within the economic and financial agenda of ASEM include managing global growth in the face of economic downturns; increasing regional economic integration through bodies such as the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIB), the Asian Development Bank (ADB), and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD); supporting trade facilitation and investment through Senior Official’s Meetings on Trade & Investment (SOMTI) and the ASEM Customs DG-Commissioners’ Meetings; discussions on taxation; and discussions to include private sector partners at all possible levels.

ASEM is fully committed to the implementation of the UN Agenda 2030 on Sustainable Development in the execution of its own programmes that promote greater trade and investment between Asia and Europe.

ASEM’s multilateral approach in its work ensures that Leaders remain focused on increasing trade and investment within the WTO rules-based system. Hence, all ASEM’s economic and financial measures and initiatives have WTO goals at their core, goals such as keeping markets open, resisting all forms of protectionism, and ensuring free and open trade, to name a few.

ASEM is committed to improving labour standards, workplace safety, and other related human rights standards in the global supply chains that a growing number of workers worldwide are joining. ASEM believes that increasing labour standards in these supply chains can only improve value both for individual workers and the international economy.

Connectivity is a principle that cuts across economic, social and cultural areas and guides the meetings and work of ASEM Leaders. Economic connectivity refers to developments in the digital economy, increasing transportation links, and promoting innovation and technologies.

  • Digital Economy
    There are unique benefits and challenges posed by the digital economy in areas such as tax and value creation. ASEM Finance Ministers meetings have addressed these & other relevant areas, guided by the international frameworks represented by the G20, the UN and the OECD.
  • Transportation
    Physical connectivity between Asia and Europe, represented by transportation and infrastructure links, is an important concern for ASEM Leaders in their mission to promote economic growth and trade in the two regions. In this regard, ASEM has initiated several discussions at the Finance Minister-level to initiate concrete outcomes.
  • Innovation and Technologies
    ASEM Leaders recognise the importance of science, technology and innovation in the fuelling economic growth and trade in Asia and Europe. It has therefore established the Trans-Eurasia Information Network (TEIN) to connect ICT infrastructure between Asia and Europe. The work of TEIN increases research exchanges and cooperation between the two regions through more effective, faster and powerful dedicated internet connections. ASEM has also set up the ASEM Cooperation Centre for Science and Technology Innovation to stimulate dialogue and exchange in science, technology and innovation.

Latest Updates of Ministerial Meetings

The most recent 7th ASEM Economic Ministers Meeting (ASEMEMM7) took place in September 2017 in Seoul, South Korea. Titled “Reconnecting Asia-Europe: Innovative Partnership for Inclusive Prosperity”, the meeting tabled discussions on facilitating and promoting Trade and Investment, strengthening economic connectivity and sustainable and inclusive growth. Read more in the Chair’s Statement