europe and asia get together with a lot to talk about
Last Updated : GMT 11:59:16
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Last Updated : GMT 11:59:16
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Europe and Asia get together, with a lot to talk about

Egypt Today, egypt today

europe and asia get together with a lot to talk about

Andrew Hammond

More than 50 heads of state and government, including Chinese Premier Li Keqiang and EU chiefs Donald Tusk and Jean-Claude Juncker, are making final preparations for this week’s Asia-Europe summit.

With strains growing in transatlantic relations under Donald Trump’s presidency, Asia-Pacific is assuming significantly higher prominence across Europe.

Brussels will showcase a major initiative shadowing China’s Belt and Road project to improve connectivity with Asia-Pacific.

The EU Strategy on Connecting Europe and Asia is a foreign policy plan to enhance transport, energy and digital links that may make a significant dent in the $26 trillion infrastructure gap cited by the Asian Development Bank.

While there is a clear economic element to this initiative, politics is key too; Brussels wants to develop a Euro-centric alternative to China’s trillion-dollar Belt and Road. Some EU officials are also concerned by Beijing’s “segmenting” of the continent through initiatives such as the “16+1” regional grouping of China and 16 Central and Eastern European countries (11 EU states and five aspirant ones in the western Balkans).

The new EU plan therefore aims to bring together sometimes diverse, and competing, European member-state interests toward Asia-Pacific.

Of course, Europe has many common interests across the vast region to its east that include enhancing regional stability and security in areas such as the Korean peninsula, and increasing regional cooperation through multilateral forums such as the Asean Regional Forum.

The strategic rationale for greater political, economic, financial, social and cultural connectivity is clear for both Europe and Asia-Pacific. Together they account for around 70 percent of the world’s population and over 60 percent of GDP. Asia-Pacific accounts for over a third of EU export markets, and around half of the goods and services imported by Europe come from Asia-Pacific.

While the new European connectivity plan is financially a pale shadow of Belt and Road, it has the potential to make a significant difference because the bilateral relationship increasingly relies on effective, functioning and sustainable connectivity — in other words on the physical and non-physical infrastructure through which goods, services, ideas and people can flow unhindered.

And here it is no coincidence that key European and Asian leaders will again urge at the summit re-commitment to a smooth and frictionless “rules-based order,” not least in international trade and economics where both continents are facing disruptive spats with the US.

Both sides will therefore stress again this week their support for a multilateral system with the World Trade Organization at its core, and their opposition to US trade protectionism, asserting that such unilateral actions risk pushing the global economy into recession.

Another vital area of shared interest is global warming and sustainable development. One key reason this is so important is that, collectively, the EU and China account for around a third of global greenhouse emissions — which grows significantly larger when the rest of Asia Pacific is added.

Especially after last week’s hard-hitting UN report on the growing risks of global warming, strong, bold climate leadership by Asia-Pacific and Europe is important to preserve the integrity of the Paris accord following Trump’s decision to pull the US out. An overriding reason why EU-Asia-Pacific discussions on global warming are generally so cooperative is that, fundamentally, both sides share a vision of a prosperous, energy-secure future in a stable climate.

With appropriation vision, both sets of leaders know there is a massive “win-win” opportunity on the horizon from accelerating the transition to a low-carbon future; collaboration in this area looks set to increase.

The scale of China’s and wider Asia-Pacific’s planned investment in the green economy is staggering, a fact the EU is increasingly recognizing. Here, Asia-Pacific countries are proving open to learning from Europe’s extensive experience.

Especially having pioneered the EU Emissions Climate Trading System, the world’s first major carbon market, Europe has clear strengths in this area that Asia-Pacific could harness. There are thus substantial commercial opportunities for European technology and science firms that are leaders in much of this clean technology.

Yet the collaboration may not just be one-way traffic. Indeed, some Asia-Pacific countries, especially China, are becoming large investors in renewable energy, and it is increasingly possible that technology transfer will be a two-way process. Cooperation could build low-carbon industries in a range of sectors, and also align Europe more closely to many of the world’s fastest-growing economies.

In general, European and Asia-Pacific leaders are increasingly recognizing that they have much to gain from a deeper partnership. With Trump challenging the rules-based order, now is the time for both parties to intensify cooperation to bolster economic growth and political ties to deepen their global partnership into the 2020s on issues from climate change to international trade.

From: Arabnews

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europe and asia get together with a lot to talk about europe and asia get together with a lot to talk about

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