France eyes expanding economic relations with ASEAN

National 1 minute, 2 seconds

BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN

FRANCE wants to expand economic relations with Southeast Asia as the establishment of the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) nears, said the country’s ambassador to Brunei.

In an interview with _The Brunei Tim_es, Loan Forgeron said that France recently appointed Philippe Varin, chairman of nuclear group, Areva, as special representative for economic relations with ASEAN.

“Mr Varin is CEO of a huge multinational, and he knows ASEAN well,” said Forgeron.

“We want to develop stronger economic relations with ASEAN countries. We know the big blocs – like the US, China, Japan, Korea – have dominated trade with ASEAN, but (we) think ASEAN is the future of our (economic) relationship.”

With the creation of the AEC – when ASEAN economies merge into a single market – looming by year’s end, the envoy said France needs to intensify ties with the 10-member bloc.

“Next year ASEAN will become a single market; it is an increasing space… We need to intensify ties. In the future, the ASEAN economy could resemble the EU,” said the ambassador.

The AEC is an ambitious plan for 10 Southeast Asian countries to integrate their economies into a single market by the end of 2015, by promoting free movement of goods, investment, services and manpower.

The Brunei Times