Asian and European leaders reaffirm backing for multilateral trade

World Today

BELGIUM-EU-ASEM-SUMMIT-PRESS(L/R): Ireland’s Prime minister Leo Varadkar, Vietnam’s Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc, Estonia’s Prime Minister Juri Ratas, Lithuania’s President Dalia Grybauskaite, Myanmar’s Union Minister for International Cooperation Kyaw Tin, Britain’s Prime minister Theresa May, Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, French Junior Minister for Foreign Affairs Jean-Baptiste Lemoyne, Portugal’s Prime minister Antonio Costa, Australia’s Foreign Minister Marise Payne, Austria’s Chancellor Sebastian Kurz and Finland’s Prime minister Juha Sipila look as an unseen drone passes overhead while they pose for a family photograph during an ASEM summit at the European Council in Brussels on October 19, 2018. (Photo by Ben STANSALL / AFP)

The European Union and Singapore have signed a free trade agreement on the sidelines of the Asia-Europe Meeting in Brussels.

The deal boosts trade and investment and eliminates almost all customs duties. But trade wasn’t the only item on the agenda as CGTN’s Jack Parrock reported.

There were a series of one on one meetups for the Chinese Premier Li Keqiang, including with French president Emmanuel Macron and with the presidents of the European Union institutions.

For the 51 European and Asian leaders, it was a chance for the leaders of well over two-thirds of the world population to knock heads and discuss the big issues and recommit to the current international trading order. The sands of global trade have been shifting ever since US president Donald Trump imposed heavy fines on Chinese imports.

On the agenda at the summit has been the EU’s fledgling strategy to boost connectivity with Asia which some see as a potential rival to China’s belt and road infrastructure project.

The summit was also used to discuss cooperation on issues like the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and the Iran nuclear deal. Europe is desperately trying to uphold the beleaguered deal after the United States pulled out.

The summit won’t be held again for another two years, which will be after the UK leaves the European Union and in the midst of Donald Trump campaigning to be re-elected in the United States.