ASEAN Means Business: ASEAN and U.S. Team up on Trade

Jakarta – Indonesian Minister of Trade, Dr. Mari Pangestu, and United States Ambassador to ASEAN, H.E. David L. Carden, met today to discuss ways to enhance economic cooperation between the United States and ASEAN. One of the planned activities discussed by the two sides is the holding of the ASEAN Trade Facilitation Forum, a one day meeting on August 13 on the sidelines of the 43rd ASEAN Economic Ministers meeting in Manado, which will bring together ASEAN Ministers, officials and regional businesspeople for direct discussion on how to boost trade in the region.

The ASEAN Trade Facilitation Forum – co-organized by the Indonesian Ministry of Trade and the U.S. Department of State and U.S. Agency for International Development-funded ASEAN-U.S. Technical Assistance and Training Facility – will enable private sector representatives in the region to hear directly from ASEAN governments on progress toward  reducing the cost of doing business, including through reducing non-tariff barriers, implementing regional technical standards, improving logistics, and harmonizing customs procedures. The Forum will provide a unique opportunity for businesses from within and outside the ASEAN region to share their experiences working within Southeast Asia’s dynamic regulatory environment and aspirations for increasing trade and investment in the region.

“United States business has been a key contributor to the ASEAN region’s economic development as a source of investment, jobs, technology, and innovation” said U.S. Ambassador to ASEAN David Carden. “ASEAN has put an ambitious trade integration program into motion, and the extent to which its member states implement their regional commitments will affect how actively the private sector, U.S. business included, looks to ASEAN as a favorable and competitive place to do business.”

ASEAN Member States are working toward realizing an ASEAN Economic Community and single production base by 2015, aiming to transform ASEAN into a region with free movement of goods, services, investment, skilled labor, and freer flow of capital.

ASEAN represents a market of 8.8% of the world’s population and ranks as the 9th largest economy in the world and the 3rd largest in Asia in terms of nominal GDP. The United States has been steadily increasing its cooperation with ASEAN. Total trade between the United States and ASEAN countries totaled more than US$ 146 billion in 2009, and United States investment stood at over $3.3 billion, accounting for over 8.5 percent of total foreign direct investment in the region. The United States Government is supporting ASEAN’s economic integration process through the ASEAN-U.S. Technical Assistance and Training Facility.

Media will have access to the Trade Facilitation Forum in Manado, with more details to follow in due course.