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Time to re-energise relationship between Asia and Europe

Re: "A continent adrift and heading for global backwaters", Opinion, August 20.

The article by Philippe Legrain in yesterday's Nation offers strong evidence that Europe desperately needs change. That change must also cover relations between Europe and Asia.

Leaders from the two continents will meet at the 10th Asia-Europe Meeting (Asem) in Milan on October 16-17, where 50 countries as well as the European Union and Asean will consider the important theme of "Responsible Partnership for Sustainable Growth and Security".

The first Asem Summit, in Bangkok in 1996, advanced ideas still valid today. It recognised that the growing economic links between the two continents form the basis for a strong partnership between Asia and Europe. To further strengthen this partnership it is necessary to generate greater two-way trade and investment flows between the two regions. Such a partnership should be based on a common commitment - to the market economy, open multilateral trading system, non-discriminatory liberalisation and "borderless" regionalism.

Asem is a policy-making laboratory. The imperative now is to re-energise that laboratory and maximise its potential of producing valuable opportunities for enhancing inter-regional business frameworks and catalysing overall Asia-Europe cooperation. Asem's role must be strengthened if we want to prosper amid this era of global perplexities and vulnerability.

Ioan Voicu

Bangkok


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