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  November - December 2009


Tribute to His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej of Thailand,
the world’s longest reigning monarch. Blessed are all Thais to have a King of sincerity, compassion and plain common sense. For all those who respect His Majesty for his integrity, it was an immense relief and joy to learn that the great monarch is convalescing from his recent illness. In this humble tribute, commemorating His Majesty’s 82nd Birthday, AseanAffairs presents a snapshot of His Majesty’s life and works.

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Asean is Strategically Important

Dr. Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg
Defence Minister of Germany
Former Minister of Economics and Technology

Q:  What is your ministry’s role in promoting economic cooperation between Germany and Asean?
A:  The promotion of German trade and investment is one of the key tasks of the Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology. In this context the ministry disposes of a broad range of instruments in order to assist German companies in penetrating foreign markets. These include:

•    the establishment of German Chambers of Industry and Commerce abroad,
•    participation in trade fairs in emerging markets,
•    export credit guarantees (Hermes guarantees) and foreign investment schemes,
•    and government-led business delegations to selected countries.
All these instruments are also available to promote trade and investment with the Asean region.

Q:  How would Germany help push for a breakthrough in EU-Asean FTA talks, which has been stalled?

A: Germany is very much interested in progress on the negotiations for an EU-Asean FTA. We are doing all we can to support the European Commission - acting as negotiator for the EU - in its efforts to achieve progress with Asean countries. It may be worthwhile to note that the EU Commission received the mandate fort he FTA negotiations with Asean under the German EU presidency.

Q:  Do you think the single market Asean is launching in 2015 will be a great boost for German-Asean trade and investment?

A: Germany welcomes the internal Asean agreements as a legal and institutional framework to establish the Asean single market in 2015. The reduction of trade barriers between the Asean member states themselves, a growing web of FTAs between Asean and other major trading partners of German companies, and infrastructure linkages (e.g. transport, energy, telecommunications) offer clear advantages in competition with other regions and will therefore help to boost trade and investment between Germany and Asean.

The preconditions for long-term stability of the Asean single market are: economic integration and enhanced economic efficiency and competitiveness, coupled with the promotion of sustainable economic growth and the reduction of poverty and economic disparities in the development of the individual member states.

Q:  The EU is one of the key trade partners of Asean. What is Germany’s share of EU- Asean trade and what kind of growth do you expect in the next five years?

A: I fully agree with you. We regard Asean as a strategically important partner in the Asia-Pacific region. Trade between Germany and the Asean region has grown steadily and Germany is Asean’s most important trading partner in the EU.

Last year, Germany accounted for roughly 28 percent of the EU’s exports to Asean (€ 15.56 billion) and more than 24 percent of the EU’s imports from the region (€ 19.22 billion). Due to global economic, technological and political challenges it is very difficult to precisely predict the development of German- Asean trade and investment. But at present we are far from tapping the full potential of our bilateral economic relations. There is a high potential for growth in three business fields in particular: urban-mobility-related industries and technologies, sustainable development and infrastructure.

Q:  Should Germany pursue bilateral trade deals with selected individual countries in Asean?  .... Read the Complete Article Subscribe to ASEANAFFAIRS Magazine

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