The European Union and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations have agreed to hold free trade talks, embarking on one of the world's largest regional trade negotiations.
The agreement was reached today in Brunei during a meeting between members of the 10-member ASEAN organization and the European Union.
They came to terms after two years of preparation despite differences about ASEAN member, Burma. The EU applies sanctions on the military-ruled country because of human rights concerns.
The European Union has 27 member-nations. ASEAN members are Brunei, Burma, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.
Trade between the two groupings amounted to nearly 140 billion dollars in 2005.