The Department of Economic Affairs of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs joined hands with the Delegation of the European Union to Laos to organize a seminar on the Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) Process and roles of Lao PDR and the European Union in ASEM for some 200 staff and student of Savannakhet Pedagogical College.
The seminar is one of many activities taking place this year to celebrate the 20th anniversary of ASEM under the theme "20 years of ASEM: partnership for future through connectivity". The activities aim to raise public awareness about the importance of ASEM, its role and accomplishments as well as those of Laos and the European Union since both parties joined this bloc.
At the meeting, which were co-chaired by Mr Songkane Luangmouninthone Director General of Economic Affairs MOFA and HE Mr Leon Faber, Ambassador Designate of the European Union to Laos, participants were presented roles of the MoFA's Economic Affair Department in strengthening sub-regional, regional and international relations and cooperation, ASEM Process, roles of Lao PDR and the European Union in ASEM.
ASEM provides a unique platform to bring Europe and Asia closer together on a number of issues of global importance, be it the revival of economic growth worldwide, climate change, or the post-2015 development agenda.
Since 1996 ASEM has become a key forum for dialogue and cooperation between Europe and Asia, with an ever-growing number of partners involved. ASEM currently has 53 partners (more than double from the original 26 in 1996) and is representing nearly 60% of the world’s GDP and more than 60% of the world’s population.
It provides a stable platform for partnership to foster political dialogue and reinforce economic cooperation as well as collaboration in various other areas, including in the socio-cultural field and on global issues. ASEM enhances mutual understanding and awareness through a process of dialogue and tangible cooperation on priority issues and by working together to address challenges and translate them into opportunities. ASEM is conducted as an informal process, on the basis of equal partnership, mutual respect and benefit.
Laos enjoys an increased role on this inter-continental flora and successfully hosted the ASEM 9 Summit in 2012.
The European Union is one of Laos' biggest development partners in terms of grant aid for development cooperation and humanitarian assistance. The programme of the European Union for Laos 2014-2020 (EUR 207 million) focuses on nutrition, education and governance, while also tackling issues such as UXO decontamination, gender equality and climate change. Starting in 2016, European partners (EU, EU countries and Switzerland) are coordinating more closely on development cooperation through the European Joint Programming (2016-2020), which sets out a common vision, priorities, approach, division of labour and planned spending. Taken together, the EU and EU countries are the 4th biggest development donor in Laos, committing around EUR 70 million annually.
While the European Union is a reliable development partner to the Lao PDR, it is also the first trading bloc and the first investor in the world representing great opportunities for Laos and the region. The experience that the European Union has gained in almost 60 years of regional integration is unparalleled and constitutes a valuable asset that it is always willing to share with its partners in fora like ASEM in order to promote mutual understanding, peace and stability.