Liew Chin Tong called for strengthened EU-ASEAN cooperation at Business Summit

Liew Chin Tong, Deputy Minister of International Trade and Industry, spoke at the 10th ASEAN-EU Business Summit in conjunction with the 45th Asean-EU Commemorative Summit, in Brussels. Image: EUROCHAM Malaysia

EUROCHAM Malaysia, stated it was delighted to have met YB Liew Chin Tong, Deputy Minister of International Trade and Industry, during the 10th ASEAN-EU Business Summit in conjunction with the 45th Asean-EU Commemorative Summit, in Brussels.

The Chamber further said to be looking forward engaging with the Malaysian ministry to further bolster alliances.

The Deputy Minister represented the Malaysian Finance Minister, Tengku Datuk Seri Zafrul Abdul Aziz, and has provided a presentation of his speech at the Summit where he spoke alongside His Excellency Valdis Dombrovskis, the former Prime Minister of Latvia, now an executive Vice-President and Trade Commissioner of the European Commission.

With mentioning Dombrovskis as the man being responsible for the “An Economy that Works for People” framework, Liew Chin Tong illustrated how the Vice-President prioritises working for both his own people but also the people of Malaysia and the ASEAN region.

Liew Chin Tong further stressed the importance of the EU and ASEAN working closely together to ensure that trade and investment will eventually help create a middle class across the region.

– Trade and investment that create good jobs and eventually help build a middleclass society will have political support across the board, and will be sustainable in the face of any societal challenges, he said.

Secondly, the Deputy Minister drawed attention to the need for the EU to reset and to upgrade its trade relationship and overall relationship with ASEAN states in view of the Russia-Ukraine war and the US-China competition and other geopolitical challenges.

– It will be beneficial to both EU and ASEAN states if the EU sees the role of ASEAN states in this new milieu and the need to further strengthen European trade and investment into the region (…) Instead of waiting for comprehensive trade deals to be negotiated, it will be mutually beneficial to the EU and ASEAN states if more quick wins to build stronger trade ties with ASEAN states could be pulled off.

The Deputy Minister further pointed towards an ambition, or capacity, gap which he believes is standing in the way of building closer trade ties between EU and ASEAN states, saying sustainability, climate, deforestation and labour rights are often seen as stumbling blocks and that it does not have to be so.

– ASEAN states are certainly playing catch-up on some of these issues but some countries in the region are more advanced in terms of digitalisation, for instance. Instead of seeing this as ASEAN states not matching the EU’s levels of “ambition”, it can be viewed as capacity gaps, hence the need for more investment into building such capacity.

Liew Chin Tong pulled on sustainability and climate as examples of areas in which the EU could help invest both commercially and government-to-government to build ASEAN capacity and assured ASEAN countries will soon find themselves being able to do a lot more as a more educated middle class is on the rise and a relatively young population will dominate the Malaysian demography in the future.

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About Jeannette Hinrup

Jeannette Sophie Hinrup is a Danish environmental geographer traveling South East Asia while writing for ScandAsia.

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