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9 April 2010

Indonesia, EU set up vision group to enhance economic ties

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Indonesia and the European Union have set up a body to study ways of improving economic ties, AFP reported, quoting Indonesian Trade Minister Mari Pangestu.

"We have just created a vision group between Indonesia and the EU to basically undertake a study to see how we can enhance economic relations," she told AFP on the sidelines of an Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) summit in Hanoi.

Asked if enhanced economic ties will include a free trade agreement, Pangestu said: "I don't know. We have to wait for the study. They hope to finish it in the next six months."

EU and Indonesian officials will meet in Jakarta in November to discuss the results of the study.

The EU now wants to negotiate free trade accords with individual Asean states instead of with the group as a whole, citing the different levels of economic development among the 10-nation bloc's members.

Indonesia is Asean's biggest country and the world's most populous Muslim nation. Alongside Indonesia, Asean's eclectic membership also includes Singapore, whose $35,000 per capita income and gleaming skyscrapers are a stark contrast to poverty-ridden Laos and largely agricultural Cambodia.

The group's other members are Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam -- making a collection of emerging democracies, communist states and monarchies, as well as a military dictatorship in the form of Myanmar.


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