Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) and EU - key statistical indicators
From Statistics Explained
- Data from April 2014. Most recent data: Further Eurostat information, Main tables and Database.
This article presents recent statistics on the Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM). ASEM is an informal process of dialogue and co-operation which brings together countries from Europe, Asia and Oceania.
The article analyses the two main groups of countries that participate in ASEM. The first group includes the EU Member States plus the two EFTA members Norway and Switzerland; this group is labelled 'EU-28 plus Norway and Switzerland’ in this article. The second group includes all countries in ASEM that are not members of the EU or EFTA: Australia, Bangladesh, Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, China, India, Indonesia, Japan, Republic of Korea, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Mongolia, Myanmar, New Zealand, Pakistan, the Philippines, Russian Federation, Singapore, Thailand and Viet Nam; this second group is labelled ‘Non-EU/EFTA ASEM countries’.
The objective of this article is to highlight ASEM’s role in the world. It compares the two groups defined above and describes the economic ties between them. This includes a deeper look at population, gross domestic product (GDP), as well as mutual foreign direct investments (FDI), trade in goods and trade in services.
ASEM is a multilateral channel for communication, which addresses political, economic and cultural issues, with the objective of strengthening relations in a spirit of mutual respect and partnership. The European Union has a strong interest in promoting closer relations with members of ASEM and multilateralism in the international arena.
- 1 Main statistical findings
- 1.1 Population
- 1.2 Gross domestic product (GDP)
- 1.3 Foreign direct investments (FDI)
- 1.4 International trade in goods
- 1.4.1 Exports from the EU-28 plus Norway and Switzerland to the Non-EU/EFTA ASEM countries rose sharply in 2012, reducing the trade deficit
- 1.4.2 Machinery and vehicles is the dominant product group in trade with the Non-EU/EFTA ASEM countries
- 1.4.3 The products traded with individual Non-EU/EFTA ASEM countries differ strongly
- 1.5 International trade in services
- 2 Data sources and availability
- 3 Context
- 4 See also
- 5 Further Eurostat information
- 6 External links
Main statistical findings
ASEM is relevant to the main part of the world population
ASEM is a forum relevant to a major part of the population across the globe. Figure 1 shows that, in total, the population of the ASEM countries made up 62.5 % of the world population in 2012. The EU-28 plus Norway and Switzerland represented 7.3%, while the Non-EU/EFTA ASEM countries represented 55.2 % of the world population. Amongst the Non-EU/EFTA ASEM countries, especially China and India stand out; China alone made up almost a fifth of the total world population, India made up a sixth.
The population of the EU-28 plus Norway and Switzerland, has grown slowly over the period from 1980 to 2012 (Table 1). The average growth rate was a mere 0.3 % over this period, compared with 1.5 % for the world population. However, the population in the Non-EU/EFTA ASEM countries grew almost at the same rate as the world population. The population more than doubled over this period in several of the Non-EU/EFTA ASEM countries. In particular, this happened in Pakistan and in most of the member states of the ASEAN: Cambodia, Singapore, Brunei Darussalam, Malaysia, Lao PDR and the Philippines.
The share of the Non-EU/EFTA ASEM countries remained relatively stable over the last 30 years, amounting to 56.5 % in 1980, 56.2 % in 2000 and 55.2 % in 2012 (calculated from Table 1). In contrast, as the population of the EU-28 plus Norway and Switzerland grew much slower than the world population, their share of the world population fell from 10.6 % in 1980 to 7.3 % in 2012. Thus, in total, the share of ASEM in the world population fell slightly over the last 30 years, from 67.1 % in 1980 to 62.5 % in 2012.
Gross domestic product (GDP)
ASEM countries create more than half of world GDP
In 2012, 57% of the gross domestic product (GDP) in the world was created in countries participating in the Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) dialogue (Figure 2). The EU-28 plus Norway and Switzerland produced roughly a quarter of world GDP, while the Non-EU/EFTA ASEM countries produced almost a third. Amongst these countries, especially China and Japan stand out, with 11 % and 8 % of world GDP respectively.
For the world as a whole, GDP at current prices has risen at an average rate of 6.2 % over the period 2005 to 2012 (Table 2). Despite a slowdown in GDP growth in the ‘crisis years’ 2008 to 2010, GDP growth has picked up again in later years. However, it should be noted that GDP at current prices is not adjusted for inflation.
Over this period, the ASEM outperformed the world economy; the GDP of ASEM as a whole grew by an average of 6.6 % (calculated from Table 2). This was driven in particular by the Non-EU/EFTA ASEM countries, whose GDP at current prices rose at an average rate of 10.8 %. Amongst the larger economies, the GDP rose strongly in particular in China and Indonesia. Many of the Non-EU/EFTA ASEM countries recorded an average rise in GDP of more than 10 % over this period. The combined GDP at current prices of the EU-28 plus Norway and Switzerland grew by 2.5 % on average over the period.
The GDP is generally considered a basic measure of a country's overall economic strength. A key issue is how this translates to the citizens in the country, measured as GDP per inhabitant. This is normally called ‘GDP per capita’. In 2012, the GDP per capita of the EU-28 plus Norway and Switzerland was close to EUR 26 700 per inhabitant (Table 3). In comparison, the value for the world was almost EUR 8 000. For the Non-EU/EFTA ASEM countries, the GDP per inhabitant was close to EUR 4 700. However, this total masks large differences between countries. Indeed, in 2012 the GDP per capita of the EU-28 plus Norway and Switzerland was exceeded by Australia, Singapore, Japan, Brunei and New Zealand. Nevertheless, amongst all ASEM partners the highest GDP per capita was registered in Luxembourg, Norway and Switzerland.
It should be noted that this direct measure is not adjusted for differences in price level between countries. GDP per capita also does not reflect the distribution of income and wealth within countries.
Foreign direct investments (FDI)
Strong ties between the economies of the Asia-Europe Meeting
The figures for FDI flows vary strongly from year to year, reflecting both general economic conditions and the investment decisions of individual economic actors. The available data show strong links between the ASEM economies, with large and increasing investments across the partner economies.
Investors from the EU-28 plus Norway and Switzerland invested large amounts in particular in China and Australia in 2012 (Table 4). For China this is a continuing trend over the past years, whereas the investments in Australia from the EU-28 plus Norway and Switzerland have varied strongly from year to year. Other interesting investment markets are India, Indonesia and Korea, although there was a blip in the investment in Korea from the EU-28 plus Norway and Switzerland in 2012, due to a major disinvestment of EUR 2 billion from Belgium.
Looking at the investment flows in the opposite direction, investments in the EU-28 plus Norway and Switzerland came particularly from China, Korea and Thailand in 2012 (Table 4). In the preceding years, there were also considerable investments from India and Australia. However, for both countries there have been large swings in these investment flows from year to year.
By 2012, investments from the EU-28 plus Norway and Switzerland in the economies of the Non-EU/EFTA ASEM countries were valued at EUR 482 billion, down from a valuation of EUR 516 billion in 2011 (Table 5); however, the 2012 value is still higher than the values recorded in 2010 (EUR 461 billion) and 2009 (EUR 355 billion). It should be noted that data are not available for all partners. The highest value of outward FDI stocks from EU-28 plus Norway and Switzerland in 2012 was in Australia, followed by China and Japan. Amongst the Non-EU/EFTA ASEM countries for whom data are available, investments in the economies of the EU-28 plus Norway and Switzerland reached EUR 258 billion in 2012. Japanese investors had accumulated two thirds of these investments, with Japanese investments valued at EUR 163 billion.
International trade in goods
Exports from the EU-28 plus Norway and Switzerland to the Non-EU/EFTA ASEM countries rose sharply in 2012, reducing the trade deficit
The combined exports of the EU-28 plus Norway and Switzerland to the Non-EU/EFTA ASEM countries reached EUR 562 billion in 2012 (Table 6). At the same time, imports reached EUR 809 billion (Table 7). This resulted in a significantly improved trade balance of the EU-28 plus Norway and Switzerland with the Non-EU/EFTA ASEM countries, reducing the deficit by almost 14 % to EUR 254 billion.
Among the Non-EU/EFTA ASEM countries, China was by far the main destination for exports from the EU-28 plus Norway and Switzerland in 2012, followed by Russia (Figure 3). Together, these two countries were the destination for half of the exports from the EU-28 plus Norway and Switzerland to the Non-EU/EFTA ASEM countries. Japan, Korea and India follow at some distance. From 2011 to 2012, exports increased to all Non-EU/EFTA ASEM countries except India and Bangladesh. Amongst the largest Non-EU/EFTA ASEM economies, the sharpest rises in exports from the EU-28 plus Norway and Switzerland were seen for Russia and Japan.
Also on the import side, China dominated as the source of imports from the Non-EU/EFTA ASEM countries to the EU-28 plus Norway and Switzerland (Figure 4). Again, Russia followed with some distance. Together, the imports from China and Russia made up almost two thirds of the imports from the Non-EU/EFTA ASEM countries in 2012. Japan followed far behind these two as the third most important source for imports from the Non-EU/EFTA ASEM countries. Whereas imports from Russia rose from 2011 to 2012, they fell for Japan, India and China.
Machinery and vehicles is the dominant product group in trade with the Non-EU/EFTA ASEM countries
Machinery and vehicles made up close to half of the exports from the EU-28 plus Norway and Switzerland to the Non-EU/EFTA ASEM countries in 2012 (Figure 5). Included in this group are cars and trucks, medical apparatus, aircraft, and oil and gas extraction machinery. The next largest group was chemicals, with pharmaceuticals its main product group.
With slightly more than a third of the total, machinery and vehicles was the largest group also in the imports from the Non-EU/EFTA ASEM countries to the EU-28 plus Norway and Switzerland (Figure 6). Within the imports of this product group, the main products included electronic equipment, computers, telephones and other telecommunications equipment. The import of energy products was also significant; the main products within this group were crude oil and natural gas. The third largest product group in imports was miscellaneous manufactured articles, mainly clothing and footwear.
The products traded with individual Non-EU/EFTA ASEM countries differ strongly
There are large differences in the types of products exported to and imported from the different Non-EU/EFTA ASEM countries. The importance of these countries to the total exports and imports of the different product groups to and from the EU-28 plus Norway and Switzerland also varies distinctly.
The exports from the EU-28 plus Norway and Switzerland to China are strongly dominated by machinery and vehicles, making up 57 % of the total exports to China (Table 6). This is also the most central product group in the exports to Russia (49 % of the total), Korea (44 %), India (37 %) and Japan (32 %). However, also chemicals have a central role, in particular in the exports to Japan (28 %). Manufactured goods classified by material are equally important to the exports to India, making up 30 % of the total exports from the EU-28 plus Norway and Switzerland to that country.
On the import side, the profile of the Non-EU/EFTA ASEM countries in their trade with the EU-28 plus Norway and Switzerland is much more differentiated (Table 7). Machinery and vehicles make up almost two thirds of the imports from Japan and Korea. This product group makes up half of the imports also for China; however, with 30% of the total, also the miscellaneous manufactured articles play a central role in the imports from China.
Overall, China dominates the imports from the Non-EU/EFTA ASEM countries to the EU-28 plus Norway and Switzerland for several important product groups. In 2012, imports from China made up 63 % of the total imports from Non-EU/EFTA ASEM countries of miscellaneous manufactured articles. China was also the origin of 55 % of the imports of machinery and vehicles from the Non-EU/EFTA ASEM countries and 46 % of the manufactured articles classified by material.
The imports from Russia are characterised by a heavy dominance of energy products, mainly crude oil and natural gas. This makes up more than three quarters of the imports from Russia. Indeed, Russia stands for almost all of the imports of energy products from the Non-EU/EFTA ASEM countries. However, on the whole, these countries only represent slightly more than a third of the energy product imports to the EU-28 plus Norway and Switzerland (Figure 8).
The Non-EU/EFTA ASEM countries are much more important to the imports of miscellaneous manufactured articles (68 % of the total imports to the EU-28 plus Norway and Switzerland), machinery and vehicles (61 %) and manufactured articles classified by material (50 %). The Non-EU/EFTA ASEM countries are also central to the imports of oils, fats and waxes (61 % of the imports of this product group); however, the value of imports of this product group is very small compared to the other main product groups.
Within the exports from the EU-28 plus Norway and Switzerland, the Non-EU/EFTA ASEM countries are core markets in particular for crude materials other than fuels and for machinery and vehicles (Figure 7). These countries are also the destination for roughly a third of the exports of miscellaneous manufactured articles, of food and live animals, of manufactured goods classified by material and of chemicals.
International trade in services
Surplus in trade in services with all major Non-EU/EFTA ASEM economies, except Thailand and the Philippines
In 2012, the EU-28 plus Norway and Switzerland recorded surpluses in the trade of services with almost all major Non-EU/EFTA ASEM economies (Table 8). The largest surplus was recorded in the trade in services with Russia (EUR 14 billion), followed by Australia (EUR 11 billion), China and Japan (both EUR 9 billion).
This continued the trend seen also in 2011 and 2010; the EU-28 plus Norway and Switzerland increase their surplus in trade of services with these countries year by year. The same also applied to Korea. In the trade of services with India, the trade surplus fell from 2010 to 2011, but rose again in 2012, although not sufficiently to match the surplus in 2010.
The only substantial deficit was recorded in trade in services with Thailand (EUR 2 billion), increasing by 10 % compared to the deficit in 2011. The main reason for this deficit is the high value of personal travels (i.e. travels for personal reasons, not for business reasons) from the EU-28 plus Norway and Switzerland to Thailand, amounting to more than EUR 3 billion in 2012.
For most of the other major Non-EU/EFTA ASEM countries, the largest part of the surplus in trade of services came from ‘Other services’, in particular ‘Other business services’. However, for Russia, also the personal travels from Russia to the EU-28 plus Norway and Switzerland contributed strongly (EUR 8 billion) to the trade surplus. Also for China, Australia and Japan personal travels contributed significantly to the trade surplus of the EU-28 plus Norway and Switzerland.
Amongst the ‘Other business services’, the EU-28 plus Norway and Switzerland recorded considerable surpluses for ‘Royalties and licence fees’ from Singapore (EUR 4 billion), China (2 billion), as well as Russia, Korea and Australia (almost EUR 1 billion for each). Another important product category is ‘Computer and information services’, which generated surpluses especially in the trade with Japan (EUR 3 billon), Russia (EUR 2 billion), China and Australia (both EUR 1 billion). However, there was a deficit of almost half a billion euro in the trade of computer and information services with India in 2012.
Data sources and availability
Data source: The figures presented in this publication have been extracted from Eurostat’s free dissemination database Eurobase and reflect the data availability as of April 2014. Data on the international trade of goods are also available from Eurostat’s COMEXT database. EU totals refer to EU-28.
Gross domestic product (GDP): National accounts data for the Non-EU/EFTA ASEM countries have been extracted from the World Bank’s databases. These official figures conform to the System of National Accounts (SNA).
For the EU-28 plus Norway and Switzerland, annual national accounts are compiled in accordance with the European System of Accounts (ESA95); ESA is broadly consistent with the SNA as regards the definitions, accounting rules and classifications.
Data on foreign direct investment (FDI) are based on the methodological framework of the OECD Benchmark Definition of Foreign Direct Investment - Third edition. Foreign direct investment (FDI) is the international investment made by an entity in one economy (direct investor) to acquire a lasting interest in an enterprise operating in another economy (direct investment enterprise).
Through outward FDI flows, an investor country builds up FDI assets abroad (outward FDI stocks). Correspondingly, inward FDI flows cumulate into liabilities towards foreign investors (inward FDI stocks). Changes in FDI stocks differ from FDI flows because of the impact of revaluation (changes in prices and exchange rates) and other adjustments.
Data on the trade of goods: The statistics on trade of goods between EU member states and countries outside the EU (extra-EU trade) do not record exchanges involving goods in transit, placed in a customs warehouses or given temporary admission (known as "special trade"). The trade partner is the country of final destination of the goods.
SITC classification (Figures 5, 6, 7 and 8, Tables 2 and 3)
Information on commodities exported and imported is presented according to the Standard international trade classification (SITC) at a general level. A full description of SITC is available through Eurostat’s classification server RAMON.
COMEXT data (international trade of goods): please note that the sums of the individual SITC product categories are less than the totals, due to confidentiality issues.
Data on the trade in services are based on balance of payments statistics. The balance of payments records all economic transactions between a country (i.e. its residents) and foreign countries or international organisations (i.e. non-residents of that country) during a given period. As part of the balance of payments, the current account records real resources and is subdivided into four basic components: goods, services, income and current transfers. The methodological framework used is that of the fifth edition of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) Balance of Payments Manual (BPM5). The EU balance of payments is compiled by Eurostat in accordance with a methodology agreed with the European Central Bank (ECB).
The category "Other services" includes: “Merchanting”, “Architectural, engineering and other technical consultancy”, “Services between affiliated enterprises”, “Communication”, “Construction”, “Insurance”, “Financial”, “Computer services” and “Royalties and license fees”.
The Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) is an informal process of dialogue and co-operation, bringing together countries from Europe, Asia and Oceania. The ASEM dialogue addresses political, economic and cultural issues, with the objective of strengthening relations in a spirit of mutual respect and equal partnership.
Apart from the official meetings, nearly 100 initiatives have been implemented over the past decade, including expert-level, thematic working meetings and symposia, often involving the business communities and civil society groups. Subjects covered have extended from the initial emphasis on economic cooperation to include human rights, rule of law, global health threats, sustainable development, and intercultural and interfaith dialogues.
ASEM currently has 51 members: 49 countries and 2 international organizations. The countries are: Australia, Austria, Bangladesh, Belgium, Brunei Darussalam, Bulgaria, Cambodia, China, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, India, Indonesia, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Republic of Korea, Lao PDR, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Malta, Mongolia, Myanmar, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Pakistan, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russian Federation, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand, United Kingdom and Viet Nam. The two international organizations are the ASEAN and the European Union. Croatia will officially become a member of ASEM in October 2014.
In this article, the two main groups of countries participating in the ASEM dialogue and the relations between them are studied. On the one hand, the 28 European Union Member states plus the two EFTA members Norway and Switzerland; on the other hand, the ASEM partner countries that are not members of either the EU or of EFTA.
- The EU in the world - introduction (online publication)
- ASEAN-EU - trade and investment statistics
- Korea-EU - business demography
- From birth to death: a closer look at business demography in selected EU countries and the Republic of Korea - Statistics in focus 1/2014
Further Eurostat information
- The EU in the world 2013 — A statistical portrait - Statistical book (2013)
- The European Union and the BRIC countries - Pocketbook (2012)
- The European Union and the Republic of Korea - A statistical portrait - Statistical book (2012)
- Goods trade with ASEAN countries rebounds from 2009 to 2010 - Statistics in focus 47/2011
- Population, see:
- Demography (t_pop)
- Population (t_demo_pop)
- National accounts, see:
- GDP and main components (t_nama_gdp)
- Balance of payments, see:
- Balance of payments - International investment positions (t_bop_q)
- International trade in services, geographical breakdown (t_bop_its)
- European Union direct investments (t_bop_fdi)
- International trade, see:
- International trade data (t_ext)
- International trade long-term indicators (t_ext_lti)
- Population, see:
- Demography (pop)
- Demography - National data (demo)
- National accounts, see:
- Annual national accounts (nama)
- GDP and main components (nama_gdp)
- Exports and imports by Member States of the EU/third countries (nama_exi)
- Balance of payments, see:
- Balance of payments statistics and International investment positions (bop_q)
- International trade in services, geographical breakdown (bop_its)
- European Union direct investments (bop_fdi)
- International trade, see:
- International trade data (ext)
- International trade detailed data (detail)
- Balance of payments
- International Statistical Cooperation
- International trade
- National accounts (including GDP)
Methodology / Metadata
- Eurostat - RAMON (classification server)
- IMF Balance of Payments Manual - Fifth edition
- OECD Benchmark Definition of Foreign Direct Investment - Third edition
Source data for tables, figures and maps (MS Excel)
- ASEM Infoboard – The official information platform of the Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM)
- European Commission – DG Development and Cooperation - EuropeAid: Building strong and lasting links with Asia
- European External Action Service (EEAS): European Union involvement in the Asia-Europe Meeting