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Seizing Opportunities Across Asia: USTR in Brunei Darussalam

08/21/2013 - 11:48am

In Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei Darussalam, Ambassador Froman engaged today with a broad group of trade ministers, emphasizing the Obama Administration's commitment to deeper economic engagement with one of the world's most dynamic regions.

Ambassador Froman met with the trade ministers from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), a 10-country bloc of Asian countries - Brunei Darussalam, Burma, Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam. Taken together, these 10 countries are the United States' fourth-largest export market.

In the meeting with ASEAN Economic Ministers, the Ambassador discussed the range of issues of mutual interest to the U.S. and ASEAN, from expanding and streamlining trade and investment both in the region and with the United States, to working together at the World Trade Organization toward a multilateral trade facilitation agreement.

Ambassador Froman also took the opportunity in Brunei today to meet with the economic ministers of the East Asia Summit, which included the ASEAN nations and also Australia, China, India, Japan, Korea, New Zealand, and Russia. Topics on tap for this group, which the United States joined in 2010, included issues such as improving connectivity across the region.

Ambassador Froman had bilateral meetings with the ministers from the Philippines, New Zealand, India, China, Russia, and Burma to address U.S. bilateral priorities -- opening markets and promoting more job-supporting trade and investment -- as well as reviewing broader regional economic issues, work toward key outcomes for the World Trade Organization ministerial meeting in December, and tomorrow's gathering of Trans-Pacific Partnership ministers here in Bandar Seri Begawan.

Ambassador Froman also met with business representatives from the U.S.-ASEAN Business Council to get their perspectives and to share information on regional trade and investment issues.

Starting tomorrow, the TPP ministers will meet as the 19th round of TPP talks begins here, to review outstanding issues and chart a path toward the TPP Leaders' goal of concluding a high-standard, ambitious agreement this year. The United States views the TPP as an important component of a robust trade strategy designed to open markets for American exports, help American firms -- including small and medium-sized businesses -- participate in global supply chains, and support jobs at home.