The recent meeting in Siem Reap between ASEAN Member States and the United States Trade Representative was an opportunity to highlight U.S. commitment to ASEAN and our ongoing initiatives to strengthen multilateral trade relationships across Southeast Asia.
At a press briefing before the Consultation, U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai, who chaired the meeting along with Cambodian Minister of Commerce Pan Sorasak, noted, “ASEAN represents the fourth-largest market in the world. U.S. goods and services trade with ASEAN totaled nearly $442 billion in 2021, a 22 percent increase compared to the previous year.”
Because the U.S. relationship with ASEAN holds such importance, President Joe Biden announced in May at the U.S.-ASEAN Special Summit in Washington, DC, $150 million in initiatives to deepen relations, including through clean energy infrastructure investments, upskilling programs, private sector grants, and educational and cultural exchanges. That funding built on the $102 million investment the President announced at the annual U.S.-ASEAN Summit in October 2021 to enhance cooperation on health, climate science, trade facilitation, and more.
Earlier this year, the United States affirmed the importance of labor and environmental standards to all peoples in the region, including through the ASEAN-United States Trade and Investment Framework Arrangement and during the U.S.-ASEAN Trade and Labor Dialogue.
“These accomplishments are part of the Biden administration’s effort to create a global race to the top in trade that uphold the rights of workers, protects the planet, and creates opportunities for us all,” said U.S. Trade Representative Tai.
In a joint statement after the Consultation, ASEAN members and the United States, among other matters, applauded “the active engagement by officials in discussing the possible ways and means to implement the U.S.-ASEAN Economic Futures, as part of the new initiatives to expand the U.S.-ASEAN Strategic Partnership launched by President Biden.” In addition, they noted, “The Meeting underscored the importance of multilateralism, adherence to international law, and respect for sovereignty in contributing to global and regional peace, stability, and prosperity.”
The United States remains committed to our allies and partners in Southeast Asia, who are central to creating and maintaining a future Indo-Pacific region that, as President Biden has said, “is free and open, stable and prosperous, and resilient and secure.”