US-ASEAN End Consultations
Consultations between the ten ASEAN Economic Ministers (AEM) and the United States Trade Representative were held last week in Pasay City, Philippines. The consultations were co-chaired by Ramon Lopez, Secretary of Trade and Industry of the Philippines, and Barbara Weisel, Assistant United States Trade Representative for Southeast Asia and the Pacific in the Office of the United States Trade Representative.
Two-way merchandise trade between ASEAN and the US continues to grow. In 2016, merchandise trade reached $211.8 billion, which accounted for 9.5 percent of ASEAN’s total trade. That made the US the third largest trading partner of ASEAN, according to ASEAN statistics. Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) flows from the US to ASEAN amounted to $11.7 billion in 2016, placing the US as ASEAN’s third largest external source of FDI. For the United States, ASEAN is the fourth largest trading partner.
Both sides noted progress in the implementation of the 2016-2017 ASEAN-US Trade and Investment Framework Arrangement (TIFA) and the Expanded Economic Engagement (E3) Initiatives Work Plan. They endorsed the 2017-2018 ASEAN-US Trade and Investment Framework Arrangement (TIFA) and the Expanded Economic Engagement (E3) Initiatives Work Plan, and encouraged officials to focus on developing concrete initiatives that will expand free and fair trade, and increase jobs and economic growth in the United States and ASEAN. Officials from both sides also supported the conclusion of the ASEAN-US Cooperation in Fostering Trade in Telecommunications and Information Technology Services.
The officials welcomed the launch of the US-ASEAN Connect framework in September 2016 through the four areas of energy, innovation, policy and business, and the establishment of the US-ASEAN Connect Center in Jakarta. US-ASEAN Connect has been providing opportunities for ASEAN and the United States to stay connected through better access to expertise, information and resources of the US government and private sector. The officials also noted the progress in the implementation of activities under the US-ASEAN Connect framework in 2017, including activities undertaken under the theme of digital economy.
ASEAN Ministers expressed express their appreciation to the US for its continued assistance through the ASEAN Connectivity Through Trade and Investment (ACTI) project, which supports ASEAN in the areas of ASEAN Single Window, trade facilitation, Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs), as well as information and communication technology (ICT) development.
The US and ASEAN Ministers welcomed the ratification of the Protocol on the Legal Framework to Implement the ASEAN Single Window (ASW) which enables the exchange-ready member states to transition to live operation. The US also congratulated ASEAN on establishing the ASW Project Management office which has assumed full responsibility for managing the ASW Regional Service Operation.