U.S., southeast Asian nations start trade initiative

WASHINGTON Tue Nov 20, 2012 4:21am IST

U.S. President Barack Obama (L) shakes hands with Cambodia's Prime Minister Hun Sen before the 4th ASEAN-U.S. leaders' meeting at the Peace Palace in Phnom Penh November 19, 2012. REUTERS/Damir Sagolj

U.S. President Barack Obama (L) shakes hands with Cambodia's Prime Minister Hun Sen before the 4th ASEAN-U.S. leaders' meeting at the Peace Palace in Phnom Penh November 19, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Damir Sagolj

Related Topics

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Barack Obama and southeast Asian leaders launched an initiative aimed at expanding trade and investment ties between the United States and 10 countries in southeast Asia, the White House said on Monday.

The countries announced the start of the process at a meeting of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, or ASEAN, in Cambodia, where Obama is visiting Phnom Penh for a regional summit.

Actions outlined in the initiative - the U.S.-ASEAN Expanded Economic Engagement - are aimed at smoothing a path for Asian nations to link up with the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a trade agreement the United States is negotiating with ten countries in Asia and the Western Hemisphere, the White House said.

The joint action could also help Washington solidify its presence in a complex mosaic of regional trade and economic alliances in an economically vibrant region attractive to many U.S. businesses.

By seeking to open the door to the U.S.-led Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), the United States is keeping pace with another regional grouping - the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) - that is forming among southeast Asian nations and other countries in the region, including China and India.

Generally, that arrangement is expected to be less ambitious than the U.S.-led partnership and there is some concern that if the Washington's demands are too stringent, countries may lose interest in the TPP in favor of the RCEP.

Four members of ASEAN are part of the Trans-Pacific Partnership - Singapore, Brunei, Malaysia and Vietnam.

For its part, the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership includes Japan, South Korea, Australia, New Zealand, and the ten ASEAN members - but not the United States.

"ASEAN is the United States' fourth largest export market and fifth largest trade partner," the White House said in a statement. "ASEAN's continued rapid economic development creates opportunities for U.S. exports."

The United States also wants to broaden the reach of the Trans-Pacific Partnership to include ASEAN countries that are not part of the 21-economy Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation forum. These are Cambodia, Laos, and Myanmar.

Under the Expanded Economic Engagement initiative, participating countries will negotiate simplified customs procedures, and common investor protection and business conduct principles, the White House said.

ASEAN members are Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam. (Reporting by Mark Felsenthal; editing by Christopher Wilson)

FILED UNDER:
Comments (0)
This discussion is now closed. We welcome comments on our articles for a limited period after their publication.

  • Most Popular
  • Most Shared

REUTERS SHOWCASE

China Praised

China Praised

United States praises China's growing role in Afghanistan.  Full Article 

New MERS Cases

New MERS Cases

Saudi Arabia finds six new MERS cases as outbreak grows.  Full Article 

Hazing Death Case

Hazing Death Case

South Korean court-martial jails soldiers in hazing death case.  Full Article 

Fighting Ebola

Fighting Ebola

Why do some survive Ebola? Sierra Leone study offers clues.  Full Article | Related Story 

Famine Conditions

Famine Conditions

At least 3 million in Somalia in need of aid - U.N. Secretary General.  Full Article 

Islamic State Seige

Islamic State Seige

Kurdish convoy heads to Syria to take on Islamic State.  Full Article 

Tunisia Election

Tunisia Election

Tunisia's main secular party wins most seats - authorities.  Full Article 

Failed Launch

Failed Launch

Probe of Virginia rocket blast begins; space station supplied.  Full Article 

Active Volcano

Active Volcano

Hawaii lava crosses residential property, threatens more homes.  Full Article 

Reuters India Mobile

Reuters India Mobile

Get the latest news on the go. Visit Reuters India on your mobile device.  Full Coverage