High-level delegations from 38 Asian and European countries are attending a two-day summit in the Vietnamese capital Hanoi. The main thing on the Asia-Europe Meeting or ASEM agenda is trade but new member Myanmar is being urged to improve its rights record. The Hanoi summit countries generate 60 percent of global trade.
French President Jacques Chirac used the meeting to push once more to have the European Union’s embargo on arms sales to China lifted. The EU is actually threatening fresh sanctions against the military ruling Myanmar if it does not release dissident Aung San Suu Kyi. The ASEM meeting was also to discuss security, political and economic concerns. EU trade chief Pascal Lamy said the bloc’s new member states were fully up to competing economically against Asian countries whose labour is cheaper. Meanwhile, Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder took part in a ground-breaking ceremony at a shirt factory to show Germany’s commitment to investing in Asia.