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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

ASEAN Is on Track for EU-Style Bloc

MANILA, Philippines -- Southeast Asia will have completed free trade agreements with all major countries in the region within the next five years, ahead of forming its own EU-style economic community in 2015, the bloc said Sunday.

The Association of South East Asian Nations is also negotiating with the European Union on a free trade agreement, but no deadlines have been set, ASEAN Secretary-General Ong Keng Yong told reporters after two-day talks.

ASEAN comprises Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.

Trade deals with China, Japan, India, Australia, New Zealand, and South Korea should be in place by 2012, Ong said. All six dialogue partners were also represented at the meeting.

"This will tie in with our leaders' decision to have the ASEAN community established by 2015," Ong said.

Earlier Sunday, China again defended itself against charges of substandard exports, saying the vast majority of its products were of good quality. "The pass rate, or the qualified rate, of Chinese products exported to the United States or Japan are all above 99 percent," Chinese Commerce Minister Bo Xilai told reporters.

The world's largest toy maker, Mattel, last week recalled 18 million Chinese-made toys because of hazards from magnets that can cause injury if swallowed, two weeks after it recalled 1.5 million toys due to fears over lead paint.