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U.S. and ASEAN Trade Ministers Strengthen Trade Ties

San Francisco – U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman as well as Economic Ministers and senior officials from the ten Association for Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) met today and agreed on initiatives to further deepen ties and job-promoting trade and economic opportunities between the United States and ASEAN.  Continuing discussions begun at the historic U.S.-ASEAN Leaders Summit in Palm Springs, California, they focused on policies that drive innovation and entrepreneurship, and concrete plans for work between them on these issues.  They also kicked off a “roadshow,” visiting U.S. businesses to discuss the Bay Area’s unique ecosystem for nurturing innovation and competitiveness, and also opportunities for U.S. and ASEAN businesses created by the recent launch of the ASEAN Economic Community.

“Further deepening our ties to ASEAN is an important priority for the United States, and the events this week, including the U.S.-ASEAN Leaders Summit, the U.S.-ASEAN Trade and Investment Framework Arrangement meeting, and the ASEAN Roadshow in California have highlighted the opportunities to promote jobs through enhanced trade and investment between us,” said U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman.  “We believe that today’s discussions will propel our efforts to further our economic partnership, which holds significant promise.”

During the meetings, Ambassador Froman and the ASEAN Ministers discussed the recently-concluded Trans-Pacific Partnership and agreed to launch a new series of U.S.-ASEAN trade workshops helping ASEAN countries better understand the commitments of high standard trade agreements such as in the TPP.  They also discussed the recent announcement of U.S.-ASEAN Connect, a new unified strategic vision for U.S. economic engagement with ASEAN, which will include the establishment of three ASEAN Connect hubs in Jakarta, Singapore, and Bangkok.

Background

Both the United States and ASEAN had strong high-level representation for the meetings, reflecting importance of U.S. economic ties with ASEAN, which collectively is our fourth largest export market.  Joining Ambassador Froman were Export-Import Bank of the United States Chairman Fred P. Hochberg, Deputy U.S. Trade Representative Robert Holleyman and other senior officials from USTR, and the Departments of State and Commerce.  The ASEAN delegation included Brunei Darussalam Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Lim Jock Seng, Cambodian Senior Minister and Minister of Commerce Sun Chanthol, Indonesian Minister of Trade Thomas Lembong, Lao PDR Minister of Industry and Commerce Khemmani Pholsena, Malaysian Trade Minister Mustapa Mohamed, Myanmar Minister of National Planning and Economic Development U Kan Zaw, Philippine Secretary of Trade and Industry Adrian Cristobal, Jr., Singapore Minister of State and Minister of Trade and Industry Koh Poh Koon, Viet Nam Deputy Minister of Industry and Trade Tran Quoc Khanh, and ASEAN Secretary-General Le Luong Minh. 

Two-way goods trade between the United States and ASEAN totaled $227 billion in 2015, supporting over 370,000 American jobs.  Since 2009, trade in goods with ASEAN has expanded by 47 per cent.  U.S. domestic exports of agricultural products to ASEAN countries totaled $10.1 billion in 2015, and U.S. exports of services to ASEAN were $22.6 billion in 2014 (latest data available), up 4.1 percent from the previous year.