Minister for Foreign Affairs Dr Vivian Balakrishnan attended and co-chaired the 22nd ASEAN-EU Ministerial Meeting (AEMM) on 21 January 2019 in Brussels, Belgium. At the AEMM, the Foreign Ministers of ASEAN and the EU agreed in principle to upgrade ASEAN-EU relations to a strategic level. The Ministers also exchanged views on regional and international issues of mutual concern.
Minister Balakrishnan will meet Members of the European Parliament today (23 January). They will discuss the strengthening ties between Singapore and the EU, including the ratification of the EU-Singapore Free Trade Agreement, EU-Singapore Investment Protection Agreement and EU-Singapore Partnership and Cooperation Agreement.
He said during his press conference that “we share values, and we share common cooperating principles. So, in a sense, the EU and ASEAN are quite natural partners.”
EU is a key economic partner for ASEAN
“On the economic front, the EU is a key economic partner for ASEAN. It has consistently been ASEAN’s largest source of foreign direct investment – and this is over decades, and has also ranked among our top three trading partners. In fact, as of today, it is the second largest trading partner for all of ASEAN.”
He also stated that ASEAN and the EU have also been contributors to international and regional peace, security, and stability. And that they should take the ASEAN-EU partnership to greater heights amidst this increasingly complex, volatile and contested global environment, and to continue to explore new areas where they can cooperate.
ASEAN-EU co-operation required in the field of Cybersecurity
The minister mentioned cybersecurity as a topic that was discussed during their meeting highlighting how Cybersecurity is not just a national issue of importance, but an international one. And that the topic required international co-operation in order to deal with it.
“We have much to share and learn from each other as we tackle these common challenges including upholding multilateralism, cybersecurity, maritime security and climate change.”
Dr Vivian Balakrishnan also said that “Cybersecurity, an increasingly salient field in today’s age of digitalisation and e-commerce, is another area where we can and indeed have to cooperate closely.”
He concluded by saying that as coordinator of the ASEAN-EU relationship, Singapore is committed to working with the EU and all partners across the EU, as well as the ASEAN Member States to explore ways to continue to deepen their cooperation, and to signal to the world a collective commitment to global peace, stability and prosperity, and to achieve this through regionalisation, multilateralism, and a common belief in a rules-based global world order.