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If You Thought Asia Had Forgotten About Europe - Think Again!

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I'm blogging to you from Singapore this week where I am attending Europe Week.

Before I got on the plane from London to join Cicero's Asia Pacific team based here I thought I would have an uphill task persuading people to talk about the 'old world'.

Many readers will have heard a lot from commentators with real horizon like HSBC's economist Stephen King talking about the 'New Silk Road'. A view that increasingly South East Asian economies are simply bypassing Western markets - both Europe and the US - to trade with African and South American emerging powerhouses.

And when you look at where chunky growth exists right now - it remains hard to resist the arguments promoting the BRIC nations which Jim O'Neill at Goldman Sachs has promoted for the past decade.

I knew I was in Asia the moment I got off the plane at Singapore's Changi airport - from aircraft door popping open to getting in a taxi with my luggage off the converyor belt - just 15 minutes. #FT Fast Lane's Tyler Brule is right about that. It's a great airport and a reminder I arrive from Heathrow - where such events would be the exception rather than the rule. By the ways thanks to British Airways and the UK passport service I actually got here - will blog about that later...

But the travel experience reflects the economic pace when you get into downtown Singapore. Spend, spend, spend is the order of the day here.

So a sense then viewed from Asia - whats the point in Europe any more?

Well the dialogue with Europe came into sharp focus just hours after I landed and the voters of Greece and France baulked at austerity. Albeit in two distinctly different ways.

The phone started to ring from London with Sky News wanting to test the reaction of Asian markets to the European political news. So laptop and webcam dusted off and Skype switched on - I have helped with that analysis all week. Broadly, Asian markets have remained a sea of red.

But as European media increasingly focus their attentions on Asia - Asian media have this week changed the narrative. Suddenly the European story is front and centre. I have now recorded two pieces for Channel NewsAsia on the eurozone crisis and - when I am back in London next week - I expect that appetite to continue. Time to get Skype and the webcam out again!

So what's changed?

There was a sense that the financial crisis was a Western problem. That view is rapidly changing.

The spill-over effects from Europe hampering Asian growth are being felt and the contagion from the eurozone is keenly felt.

At the heart of my Asian week was Europe Day where I got the opportunity to attend an event hosted by EuroCham Singapore - the body that fosters trade and ecomomic ties between Singaporean and European business. According to the European Commission - after Malaysia, Europe is the biggest single market for Singapore - oil excluded. The EU is attempting to sign its first free trade agreement in the ASEAN region with Singapore - so lots at stake here.

So at the Chamber, I heard one of Singapore's senior Trade Ministers S Iswaran talk eloquently about the benefits of Europe investing in Asia. When it came to questions I could not resist being first to the microphone asking the minister: "What would it take to encourage Asia to invest more in Europe?"

Answering with a clarity which most of us would wish to see from Western politicians, the minister replied: "Stability would be a good starting point."

He is right. Asia and the world is growing tired of eurozone instability which is why it is time for some bolder action and for some realpolitik about just what is sustainable.

But Asia is talking about Europe. I am just sorry it is for the wrong reasons.

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