U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Economic and Business Affairs Jose Fernandez traveled to the Philippines, Burma, Thailand, and Singapore. The goal of the trip was to promote economic relations with the United States as well as among countries in the region.
In the Philippines, Assistant Secretary Fernandez encouraged broad-based economic growth and promoted U.S. foreign investment, and ways the United States could support the reform efforts of President Benigno Aquino and his administration.
The next stop was Burma, where the Assistant Secretary participated in a U.S. Chamber of Commerce sponsored symposium of 50 U.S. companies attended by 300 Burmese officials, business people, and non-governmental organizations. He emphasized the importance of U.S. companies’ responsible and transparent investment to promote human rights, labor rights, and sound environmental practices.
“As we look toward a more prosperous future together,” he said, “I. . .emphasize that we in the United States would like to establish broad and deep commercial and business ties." The strategy includes Burmese trade integration with China, India, and Southeast Asia.
Mr. Fernandez underlined that U.S. businesses would apply international business standards for transparency, labor rights, environmental protection, and land use. They would provide jobs, raise living standards, and help sustainably develop Burma's rich natural resources.
For the past two years, Burmese President Thein Sein has initiated and implemented many reforms, including releasing hundreds of political prisoners, relaxing controls on the press, and permitting the right to assemble. In 2012, in response to these and other democratic reforms, the United States began easing restrictions on investment, financial services, and importation of Burmese goods to the United States.
In Thailand, Assistant Secretary Fernandez discussed trade with Thai officials and U.S. companies to further enhance the dynamic trading relationship between the two nations. In Singapore, Assistant Secretary Fernandez met with government officials, academics, civil society, and business representatives. They discussed the importance of pursuing the Trans-Pacific Partnership - a proposed free trade agreement among countries in the region and the United States.
Great opportunities exist in the East Asia and Pacific for economic growth, cooperation, and prosperity. The United States remains committed to achieving that vision.