Trade deal won’t include Myanmar
A free trade agreement between the European Union and Southeast Asia
would exclude military-ruled Myanmar and negotiations to reach a deal
could take years, a member of the European Parliament said on Tuesday.
The two groups, which together include 37 nations and are home to more
than a billion people, agreed last May to start talks and embark on one
of the world's largest regional trade negotiations, despite differences
over Myanmar, the subject of EU sanctions and human rights concerns.
"Frankly, it was almost impossible before the recent events, I think
it's completely impossible now for that FTA to include Myanmar," Glyn
Ford, a member of the European Parliament, told journalists during a
visit of the parliament's International Trade Committee to Singapore.
"The negotiations here are proceeding comparatively slowly," he said,
adding they "will take some years" to conclude and that a deal with
Southeast Asian countries excluding Myanmar was a possibility for the
EU. Trade between the EU and the 10-member Association of South East
Asian Nations, or ASEAN, stood at around $141 billion in 2005,
according to ASEAN data.
Corien Wortmann-Kool, the committee's group leader called on
Singapore's government to take steps against Myanmar's leadership after
a bloody crackdown on the biggest democracy protests in the country in
"It is important that these are really effective measures. This
(Singapore) is an economic centre, this is a financial centre. I think
the government can think of measures," Wortmann-Kool said but declined
Singapore, whose trade with Myanmar last year reached S$1 billion ($678
million), has close relations with Myanmar's junta. Several of its
rulers have sought medical treatment in the wealthy island republic.
Ful story on http://asia.news.yahoo.com/