Siem Reap, Cambodia - United States Trade Representative Ron Kirk today reiterated the Obama Administration's intention to deepen and strengthen trade and investment between the United States and Southeast Asian nations. Ambassador Kirk's comments followed the close of economic ministerial meetings of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and the first-ever U.S.-ASEAN Business Summit.
Ambassador Kirk and Cambodian Minister of Commerce Cham Prasidh also announced today that the United States and Cambodia have agreed to begin exploratory discussions on a potential bilateral investment treaty (BIT).
"The United States' commitment to the ASEAN region is long-term. The ASEAN countries together are already a major trading partner for the United States, but we - and the American business community - see enormous potential to grow our mutual trade and investment as ASEAN pursues its own objectives of liberalizing trade in the region, harnessing the digital economy and reducing economic disparities among its members," said Ambassador Kirk. "Our decision to explore a possible bilateral investment treaty with Cambodia demonstrates the U.S. view that the countries of this region can be valuable partners individually as well as collectively in ASEAN."
Ambassador Kirk discussed with ministers and business leaders objectives for upcoming work under the U.S.-ASEAN Trade and Investment Framework Arrangement, including with regard to the digital economy, small business development, and cooperation on trade facilitation, and promoting economic engagement with ASEAN countries in the United States. He also particularly noted that the United States welcomes recent reforms in Burma and Laos and looks forward to Lao PDR's accession to the World Trade Organization, and the potential for new engagement opportunities with all of ASEAN.
Ambassador Kirk also met bilaterally with a number of ASEAN ministers, including those participating in the Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations. The 14th round of TPP talks begins next week in Leesburg, Virginia.