As a whole, ASEAN was the world’s sixth largest economy in 2015. It was the EU’s third largest goods trading partner outside Europe, after the United States and China, whereas the EU was the bloc’s second-largest trading partner in goods, following China. Over the past decade, the level of trade between the two partners has grown steadily, with the exception of the decrease in 2009, triggered by the global financial and economic crisis. This increase in trade was, however, coupled with a constant negative trade balance on the EU side. In 2013, the EU trade deficit dropped to its lowest value since 2000. The deficit and its proportion of total trade increased in both 2014 and 2015.
In recent years, trade in services between the EU and ASEAN has also grown. During the period 2004-2012, it increased by 122 %; in 2012, the EU recorded a surplus of €4.2 billion. EU-ASEAN trade in services accounts for approximately 40 % of total trade between the two partners.
The EU is the most significant source of foreign direct investment (FDI) in the ASEAN member states. In 2014, FDI inflows from the EU reached US$29.3 billion, a share worth 21.5 % of total FDI inflows into ASEAN. As regards ASEAN investment in Europe, it accounted for over €57 billion at the end of 2013, constituting approximately 1.3 % of extra-EU inward stocks in that year. More than 11 000 European businesses are currently operating in the region.