Europe, Asia meet to target economic reform and piracy


Brussels : European and Asian leaders are set to turn the spotlight on worldwide economic reform and the fight against piracy when they meet in Brussels Monday, according to internal papers.

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The biennial Asia-Europe Meeting, or ASEM, brings together the leaders of 27 European Union and 19 Asian states, including major powers like China, India, France and Germany. The two-day summit is to discuss issues ranging from climate change to cultural exchanges.

But draft summit documents seen by DPA place the emphasis on economic growth, financial market reform and the fight against piracy off the coast of Somalia.

The EU and Asia agree on “promoting strong, sustainable, balanced and inclusive growth, restoring market confidence, strengthening the resilience and transparency of the financial system … contributing to the reform of the international financial institutions and spurring economic growth in developing countries”, one draft reads.

The summit comes six weeks before a summit of the Group of 20 (G20) leading economies, which is meant to agree upon a global platform for economic and financial reform.

The ASEM draft declaration, a four-page statement dedicated to economic issues, sets out general principles for action.

It calls, for example, for developing states to be given greater weight within the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank, an issue likely to dominate global talks in the coming months.

“In view of the strong growth in dynamic emerging markets and developing countries, we express support for the implementation of the IMF quota reform, by November this year, to adequately reflect the relative weight and responsibilities of the IMF members in the world economy,” the draft reads.

The summit is also intended to emphasize the fight against piracy as part of a broader debate on security issues.

European and Asian businesses alike have been sharply affected by the surge in piracy off the Horn of Africa, which lies on the shortest sea route between their ports. Many states have sent naval missions to the region, but they have been hampered by difficult conditions and a lack of clear laws for prosecuting suspects taken on the high seas.

“Leaders stressed the importance of effectively prosecuting suspected pirates, and to this effect, of ensuring that evidence on pirates’ attacks and on their identity be collected,” a comprehensive 24-page draft summit communique reads.

The European members of ASEM are Austria, Belgium, Britain, Bulgaria, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain and Sweden.

The Asian members are Brunei, Cambodia, China, India, Indonesia, Japan, Laos, Malaysia, Mongolia, Myanmar, Pakistan, Singapore, South Korea, Thailand, the Philippines and Vietnam. Australia, New Zealand and Russia are also set to join for the first time on Monday.