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Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN)

Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN)

The ASEAN region is a dynamic market with some 640 million consumers and ranks as the eighth economy in the world. The countries as a group are the EU's third largest trading partner outside Europe, after the US and China.

Ensuring better access for EU exporters to the dynamic ASEAN market is a priority for the EU. Negotiations for a region-to-region trade and investment agreement between the EU and ASEAN were launched in 2007 and paused by mutual agreement in 2009 to give way to a bilateral format of negotiations.

These bilateral trade and investment agreements were conceived as building blocks towards a future region-to-region agreement.

Negotiations with Singapore and Malaysia were launched in 2010, with Vietnam in June 2012, with Thailand in March 2013, with the Philippines in December 2015 and with Indonesia in July 2016. So far, the EU has completed negotiations for bilateral agreements with two of them (Singapore in 2014 and Vietnam in 2015) while negotiations with Thailand, Malaysia and the Philippines are currently on hold. Negotiations with Indonesia are still ongoing and are used to further deepen EU-Indonesia trade and investment relations. Bilateral Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) between the EU and ASEAN countries will serve as building blocks towards a future EU-ASEAN agreement, which remains the EU's ultimate objective.

Negotiations of an investment protection agreement are also under way with Myanmar (Burma).

At the regional level, the European Commission and the ASEAN Member States are undertaking a stocktaking exercise to explore the prospects towards the resumption of region-to-region negotiations. A joint EU ASEAN Working Group for the development of a Framework setting out the parameters of a future ASEAN-EU FTA gathers at a regular basis.

Trade picture

ASEAN countries:

  • ASEAN as a whole represents the EU's 3rd largest trading partner outside Europe (after China and the US) with more than €189.47 billion of trade in goods in 2020. Bilateral trade in services amounted to €93.5 billion in 2019.
  • The EU is ASEAN’s third largest trading partner after China and the US, accounting for around 10.6% of ASEAN trade.
  • The EU is by far the largest investor in ASEAN countries. In 2019, the Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) stocks into ASEAN accounted for €313.6 billion. Although a more recent phenomenon, ASEAN investment in Europe has also been growing steadily and impressively to a total stock of over €144 billion in 2019.
  • The EU's main exports to ASEAN are chemical products, machinery and transport equipment. The main imports from ASEAN to the EU are machinery and transport equipment, agricultural products as well as textiles and clothing.

EU-ASEAN (Association Of South-East Asian Nations): Trade in goods

Trade in goods 2018-2020, € billions
Year EU imports EU exports Balance
2018 121.4 85.8 -35.6
2019 125.4 85.3 -40.1
2020 120.3 69.2 -51.1

Unless otherwise mentioned “EU” concerns for all indicated years the current European Union of 27 Member States.

Date of retrieval: 12/04/2021

More statistics on ASEAN

EU and the ASEAN

Besides the trade negotiations with individual ASEAN Member States, the EU cooperates closely with the ASEAN region as a whole. Cooperation between the two regions is framed by a biannual ASEAN-EU Trade and Investment Work Programme, which is articulated along the following activities:

  • an EU-ASEAN dialogue, which includes discussions on trade and investment issues at ministerial and senior economic officials levels;
  • biregional expert dialogue groups;
  • cooperation activities;
  • regular organisation by business of ASEAN-EU Business Summits.

Trading with ASEAN