Burma should not benefit from EU-ASEAN Trade Deal – UK Government
30 Apr 2009
The Burma Campaign UK today welcomed a statement from UK Trade Minister Gareth Thomas MP that Burma should not benefit from any future EU ASEAN trade deal.
Gareth Thomas MP made the statement in answer to a written Parliamentary question by John Battle MP. Gareth Thomas MP is a joint Minister of State at the Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Affairs, and the Department for International Development.
“The UK position is that Burma should not benefit from a future EU ASEAN FTA (Free Trade Agreement),”said Gareth Thomas MP. “This is an issue to which the UK attaches great importance.”
Free trade negotiations between the European Union and ASEAN were opened in 2007, but have not progressed successfully, with European Union officials blaming ASEAN countries for failing to agree a common negotiating position on key issues.
The Burma Campaign UK has lobbied European governments to ensure that Burma’s generals don’t benefit from the trade deal. Burma’s military dictatorship has used income from foreign trade and investment to entrench its power and increase human rights abuses, especially against ethnic people in Karen, Karenni and Shan states in Eastern Burma. The United Nations has accused the dictatorship of breaking the Geneva Convention by deliberately targeting civilians in Eastern Burma.
“We warmly welcome the statement by the British government that Burma should not benefit from any future free trade deal with ASEAN,” said Mark Farmaner, Director of Burma Campaign UK. “Once again the British government is taking the lead in standing by the people of Burma. We call on other European Union members to ensure any future deal benefits the people of Asia, not Burma’s corrupt and brutal dictators.”
Earlier this week EU Foreign Ministers agreed to extend sanctions against Burma for a further year.
For more information contact Mark Farmaner on 020 7324 4710
Full Text from Hansard Parliamentary record:
29 Apr 2009 : Column 1361W Free Trade: Burma
John Battle: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform what progress has been made in securing an EU-ASEAN free-trade agreement; and whether Burma will be party to this agreement. 
Mr. Thomas: EU-ASEAN free trade agreement negotiations were launched in May 2007 in Brunei. ASEAN, due to its competitiveness, is a very important market with which to further deepen trade relations. However, since 2007 progress on starting substantive negotiations has been very slow. This has been a result of ASEAN finding it difficult to agree a common negotiating position.
The UK position is that Burma should not benefit from a future EU ASEAN FTA. This is an issue to which the UK attaches great importance.