EU Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht pledged here Sunday to strengthen EU's business relations with ASEAN amid global financial crisis.
He told a press conference ahead of the 20th ASEAN Summit scheduled for Monday and Tuesday that the Second EU-ASEAN business summit just concluded here Sunday was "a true success."
The ASEAN countries are the EU's third largest trading partner outside Europe with annual bilateral trade in goods and services reaching some 233.73 billion U.S.dollars, he noted.
On the relations between Europe and ASEAN, the two important alliances in the world, he said, "Our futures are entwined."
On the sidelines of the 11th ASEAN-EU Economic meeting on Sunday, Karel De Gucht and Vietnamese Minister for Industry and Trade Vu Huy Hoang concluded a scoping paper that covered the topics to be included in their future trade negotiations.
Last year, EU-Vietnam trade in goods was worth more than 24.04 billion dollars, with Vietnam having a trade surplus of 10.15 billion dollars.
Malaysia and Singapore are also expected to cut a deal with EU soon, said the commissioner, adding that this would send a very positive signal to all ASEAN members that partnering with Europe is the way forward.
On the current financial crisis in Europe, he said "Europe's economy has only been bruised, not broken, so ASEAN governments, delegates and business people are right to be feeling the positivity."
He said that Europe remains very much open to business because uncertainty is being replaced by action and guarantees.
"So we have solid progress back in Europe and concrete results for EU-ASEAN co-operation here in Cambodia," he said.