The idea of organizing an Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) was firstly launched by Singaporean Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong at the third session of the East Asia-Europe Economic Forum. After a period of preparation, the inaugural Asia-Europe Meeting was held in Bangkok on March 2-3, 1996, marking a good start for the cooperation of the two regions
The purpose of ASEM is to create “a new comprehensive partnership between Asia and Europe for a greater growth” towards the 21st Century. The ASEM process is conducted on a basis of equal partnership, mutual respect and benefit. Three ASEM key dimensions, namely fostering political dialogue, reinforcing economic cooperation and promoting cooperation in other areas, are carried forward with the same impetus. ASEM is an open and evolutionary process, and uninstitutionalized; the enlargement of ASEM should be conducted on the basis of consensus by the Heads of State and Government. ASEM members consist of 15 nations of European Union (Britain, Ireland, Austria, Belgium, Portugal, Denmark, Germany, Holland, Greece, Italy, Luxembourg, France, Finland, Spain and Sweden), 7 ASEAN nations (Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam), 3 Northeast Asian nations (China, Japan and Korea) and the European Commission (EC). ASEM nations account for 38% of the population, 53.4% of GDP and 58% of the trade volume of the world.
The Summit is the ASEM highest decision-making level and is held on a regular basis of every two years in Asia and Europe alternatively. Meetings of Foreign Ministers, Economic Ministers and Finance Ministers are held between the Summits. The inaugural Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM I) was held in Bangkok in March 1996. The first Meeting of Foreign Ministers was held in Singapore in February 1997. The first Meeting of Finance Ministers was held in Thailand in September 1997. The first Meeting of Economic Ministers was held in Japan in September 1997. The first Meeting of Science-Technology Ministers was held in China in October 1999.
Ministers and Senior Officers Meetings (SOM) are responsible for the overall coordination of ASEM activities. Economic Ministers and Senior Officers Meetings on Trade and Investment (SOMTI), Finance Ministers and Deputy Ministers Meetings and General Directors of Custom Meetings are responsible for coordinating the cooperation in their respective fields. The frequent coordination and information exchanges are done through 4 ASEM coordinators (i.e. EC and the EU President presenting for Europe, 1 ASEAN nation and 1 Northeast nation representing for Asia).
Since ASEM I in Bangkok, the ASEM process has been broadened and rapid developments have been made in the three agreed dimensions. After ASEM n , though facing some difficulties due to the financial crisis in Asia, the circulation of the Euro and Replica Tag Heuer Watches EU enlargement in Europe, ASEM cooperation has been further strengthened. Most of the conclusions made in ASEM n and ASEM HI have been and are being implemented. Up to now, there have been more than 150 activities. 24 of 26 ASEM members have proposed initiatives or hosted ASEM activities.
The most prominent members are France, Britain, Germany, Italy, Singapore, Thailand, Korea, Japan and, most recently, China. ASEM has adopted important documents, such as Asia-Europe Cooperation Framework (AECF) identifying directions, principles and mechanisms of cooperation for ASEM, Investment Promotion Action Plan (IPAP) and Trade Facilitation Action Plan(TFAP), and has established the Asia-Europe Vision Group aimed at making recommendations on strengthening ASEM cooperation. ASEM has also formed the “Investment Experts Group” in order to implement the IPAP, and established the “Asia-Europe Environmental Technology Center” in Thailand and the “ASEM Trust Fund” (ATF) located at the World Bank.