Brussels, 9 March 2011
EU Trade Commissioner De Gucht travels to Malaysia, Australia, New Zealand and Papua New Guinea to discuss bilateral and multilateral trade agenda
EU Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht will make a key visit to Malaysia, Australia, New Zealand and Papua New Guinea between 13 and 21 March 2011. His first stop in Kuala Lumpur will focus on the progress made in the current negotiations of a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with Malaysia. In Australia and New Zealand the Commissioner will discuss issues of common concern such as trade rules on raw materials and in New Zealand Commissioner De Gucht will represent the European Union at the national memorial service in Christchurch following the recent earthquake. During his final stop in Papua New Guinea the Commissioner will support a new Economic Partnership Agreement with the region covering duty-free, quota-free access to EU markets for goods.
"Malaysia is an important trading partner for the EU", said Commissioner De Gucht before taking off for Kuala Lumpur. "I am glad to see the good progress made in the recent bilateral FTA talks. A comprehensive agreement will further boost our trade and facilitate foreign investment in Malaysia. This will help bringing capital, know-how and human resources from abroad."
"Australia and New Zealand will stand side by side with the EU during the coming weeks and months when we go into further talks on the DDA. We all are strongly committed to find a multilateral agreement in 2011. Let me also express my condolences and sympathy at the sad loss of life and damage the recent earthquake has caused in Christchurch. The European Union has activated its Civil Protection Mechanism to give rapid and effective assistance where most needed."
"The Economic Partnership Agreement we have concluded with Papua New Guinea and Fiji is a key element in our partnership with the Pacific region. I look forward to concrete steps for turning the agreement into reality now. This will bring real benefits to small businesses and rural areas. At the same time, and while we negotiate a comprehensive agreement with the whole region, the door is open to other countries to join in the agreement".
In Kuala Lumpur the Commissioner will meet Prime Minister Najib Razak and Trade Minister Mustapa Mohamed to review progress made on the comprehensive EU-Malaysia FTA since negotiations started in October 2010. With an FTA with Korea already in place and talks with Singapore well underway, Malaysia is the third country in the region with which the EU has commenced FTA negotiations.
The EU is one of the largest investors in Malaysia. Together with Malaysia's economic reform plan a Free Trade Agreement will ensure a stable economic environment and a steady path towards more openness, transparency and liberalisation.
In Australia and New Zealand the Commissioner is due to address bilateral trade relations and how to intensify business to business relationships. Together with the EU both countries are strongly committed to concluding the Doha Development Agenda in 2011. In bilateral talks with his counterparts, the Australian trade minister Mr Craig Emerson and the trade minister of New Zealand, Mr Tim Groser, Commissioner De Gucht is expected to raise the issue of raw materials supply which has become a common concern in today's international trade environment.
The Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) with the Pacific region, also covering Papua New Guinea, is, together with the EPA with the Caribbean, the only EPA that has completed the process of adoption and is now due for implementation. Papa New Guinea now has to take the necessary technical steps, such as gradually dismantling tariffs and establishing control systems on export subsidies for goods. For this EPA to deliver benefits to rural areas and small businesses it will be closely associated with development assistance for economic activities in rural areas.
For more information on EU trade relations with…
See MEMO/11/151: EU's trade relations with Malaysia, ASEAN, Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific region
Pacific region including Papua New Guinea
Economic Partnerships with Developing Countries