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Science and technology ministers meet in Beijing as ASEM reconvenes

Cooperation in science and technology between Asia and Europe is crucial and communication about the issues involved must move on from its current institutional grounding, said European and Asian Ministers at the ASEM Science and Technology Ministerial Meeting in Beijing, Chin...
Cooperation in science and technology between Asia and Europe is crucial and communication about the issues involved must move on from its current institutional grounding, said European and Asian Ministers at the ASEM Science and Technology Ministerial Meeting in Beijing, China, on 14 and 15 October.

Ministers representing ten Asian and fifteen European nations joined with representatives from the European Commission to continue talks pursuing recommendations from last year�s Second Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM 2). They have now identified the following principles for cooperation between the two continents:

- Cooperation should be conducted on an equal and voluntary basis, with equal opportunities rendered to all ASEM members to join in regional science and technology programmes;
- Cooperation should aim at common development, with due consideration to different interests of participating countries;
- Policy dialogue on science and technology cooperation should be conducted in a timely manner among science and technology policy makers and leading officials in the two continents.

Ministers also highlighted the importance of pursuing research favourable to sustainable development and the need to encourage better availability of and access to scientific and technological information. There is also a need for significant investment in human, cultural and institutional capital, they said.

The complimentary and collaborative public and private business sector was also encouraged, with the role of small and medium sized business enterprises and effective protection of intellectual property rights receiving a special mention.

The Ministers identified the following target areas with the potential for further development in cooperation:

- Broad issues, including basic science, large-scale scientific facilities, knowledge transfer from research institutions /universities to industry and S&T human resource development;
- Agricultural S&T issues, including forestry, water management, agro-technology and agro-industry;
- Environmental protection issues, including sustainable cities, sustainable and clean production technologies, sustainable development of ecosystems and cultural heritage;
- Upgrading of technical and research capabilities of enterprise.

In conclusion, there was a consensus that the relevant science and technology senior officials from the ASEM countries should strategically assess the opportunities for cooperaiton in this area and report their findings to the participants in ASEM 3 next year in Seoul, South Korea.

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