The free trade talks between the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and the European Union (EU) have been stalled after two years of talks.
We are temporarily postponing the negotiations… take a pause, not cancel, the Indonesian Trade Minister Mari Pangestu said Monday.
She said the two sides could not reach agreement on the scope of the talks and what areas should be included in the negotiations.
Obviously, Europe wants to have a much more comprehensive coverage of issues like environment and labor, which are sensitive for ASEAN countries, she said.
Diplomats from ASEAN and EU have said that continued human rights abuses and the slow pace of democratic reforms in ASEAN member Myanmar were key issues raised by the Europeans.
The EU has been at the forefront of international condemnation of Myanmar's trial over democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi.
ASEAN and the EU agreed in May 2007 to launch negotiations on a free trade accord but the talks have made little progress since then.
British has proposed that the EU should pursue free trade talks with individual ASEAN states, not with the whole group that includes military-ruled Myanmar.
ASEAN-EU free trade zone could cover nearly one billion people which would be the world's largest if it is carried out.