On 24 February, amfori President Mr Christian Ewert joined a panel discussion in Singapore to share amfori’s views on the EU’s bi-lateral agreements with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) countries.
The event was organised by the EU-ASEAN Business Council and supported by the ASEAN CSR Network, amfori and the Vietnam Trade Office in Singapore.
The EU is using sustainable chapters in free trade agreements to ensure social compliance and good working conditions in sourcing countries. This safeguards against third countries producing products for EU duty-free import under poor labour conditions. Providing an impetus for export-oriented economies in the ASEAN region to improve working conditions will benefit development as they move up the global value chain.
“While trade between the two blocs grows, we must ensure that the increase in production does not result in decreased standards,” said Mr Ewert. “It is crucial that ASEAN producers implement CSR guidelines to ensure workers are protected. Likewise, EU companies sourcing from the area have a responsibility to ensure those guidelines are implemented and assist producers in doing so.”
He also called for the joint implementation of UN SDGs and a commitment to fight climate change on both sides, as the European Commission is expected to maintain tough climate standards when negotiating trade agreements with the new Green Deal.
Climate change and sustainability related issues are already slowing down trade negotiations with key ASEAN countries such as Malaysia and Indonesia. The direction of travel is clear: national commitments to the Paris agreement will be an important parameter in future trade negotiations with the EU.