USTR - USTR Schwab to Visit Singapore and Meet with ASEAN Economic Ministers
Office of the United States Trade Representative

 

USTR Schwab to Visit Singapore and Meet with ASEAN Economic Ministers
11/16/2007
 

 

WASHINGTON -- U.S. Trade Representative Susan C. Schwab will visit Singapore on November 18-19 to meet with Economic Ministers from the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) and discuss progress made under the U.S.-ASEAN Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA).  She then will visit Cambodia on November 20-21, marking the first visit by a U.S. Trade Representative to the country.

“ASEAN countries together are our fifth largest trading partner, and Southeast Asia is one of the most rapidly growing, economically vibrant regions in the world,” Ambassador Schwab said.  “I look forward to the first formal meeting with my ASEAN colleagues since we signed our TIFA a year ago.  We can take pride in the solid progress achieved so far and set our agenda for the coming year.”

During her meetings, Ambassador Schwab also will discuss with ASEAN ministers as well as her counterparts from Japan and Korea how best to advance the WTO Doha negotiations.  The United States is committed to achieving a successful outcome to these negotiations, which will create significant new economic opportunities and growth worldwide. 

In addition, Ambassador Schwab will use the meetings to underscore U.S. concerns about the situation in Burma and its failure to make a serious commitment to a meaningful and time-bound dialogue toward national reconciliation and a peaceful transition to civilian democratic rule. Ambassador Schwab will urge key players in the Southeast Asian region to step up pressure on the Burmese regime to come to the table.

Following her meetings in Singapore, Ambassador Schwab will visit Cambodia to hold talks under the U.S.-Cambodia TIFA and explore ways to build on the recent growth in trade and investment relations between the two countries.  She also will discuss Cambodia’s implementation of its commitments under the U.S.-Cambodia Bilateral Trade Agreement (BTA) and its WTO accession agreement, as well as other trade-related issues.

BACKGROUND

ASEAN Members include Brunei Darussalam, Burma, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.  Trade between the United States and ASEAN has grown significantly during the past decade, and ASEAN was the fourth largest export market for the United States in 2006, with U.S. exports totaling $57 billion.  In addition, U.S. foreign direct investment in ASEAN countries reached $83.4 billion in 2005 (the latest available data), up 6 percent from the previous year.

In 2002, President Bush announced the Enterprise for ASEAN Initiative (EAI), which sought to strengthen further U.S. trade and investment ties to ASEAN, both regionally and bilaterally.  The EAI offers the prospect of free trade agreements (FTAs) with ASEAN members that are WTO members and have a bilateral TIFA with the United States.  The United States has used these TIFAs to address bilateral issues and to coordinate on regional and multilateral issues.

The United States concluded an FTA with Singapore in 2003 and currently is negotiating an FTA with Malaysia.  The FTA negotiations with Thailand are on hold until a democratically-elected government is in place.  The United States has active dialogues under our TIFAs with Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Philippines and Vietnam

This will be the second TIFA meeting with Cambodia, which is witnessing rapid economic growth that is expected to reach more than 9 percent this year.  Two-way trade totaled $2.3 billion in 2006, an increase of 23 percent relative to 2005.  The United States has been working to support Cambodia’s implementation of its BTA and WTO commitments, as well as its efforts to improve its investment climate. 

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