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Economic Cooperation With Asia


Industry representatives from nations within the Asia-Pacific region attend a business ethics workshop with the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Academy in August 2013. (U.S. Dept of Commerce)

ASEAN remains an important partner to the United States and a key player in the global marketplace.

U.S. Under Secretary of Commerce for International Trade Francisco Sánchez visited Brunei last month for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Business and Investment Summit. His message to the Summit was that ASEAN remains an important partner to the United States and a key player in the global marketplace.


As ASEAN looks to form an integrated economic community, the United States wants to make sure every nation in the region understands America’s commitment to ASEAN and the broader Asia-Pacific region. The United States and ASEAN are working through the Expanded Economic Engagement (E3) initiative, announced last November by President Barack Obama, to expand trade and investment ties and create new business opportunities and jobs in all eleven countries.

The United States supports the important initiatives ASEAN is taking on to promote the competitiveness of small and medium-sized enterprises or SMEs.

All governments in the region are actively working to put greater emphasis on protecting intellectual property and enforcing intellectual property rights. This encourages innovation, particularly as it ensures that SMEs will be able to profit from their ideas without worry of their being compromised.

ASEAN has also made strides in adopting standards to facilitate international trade. Standards that conform to the World Trade Organization’s Agreement on Technical Barriers to Trade help simplify doing business in the region and help SMEs compete internationally.

The U.S. Commerce Department, supported by funding from the State Department, has worked closely with ASEAN to support business ethics workshops in Laos and Malaysia to fight corruption. These workshops help national leaders understand how to implement ethical and fair business environments to maximize the ability of SMEs to compete.

Under Secretary Sánchez will again emphasize the importance of SME competitiveness at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Ministerial Meetings in Bali. He’ll participate in meetings discussing efforts to promote business ethics in the medical sector, the equal participation of women in business, and SME access to finance.

Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation nations have made great strides on these efforts. All of the nations in the region have shown great strength and leadership in hosting meetings and leading workshops to implement new policies supporting Small and Medium Sized Enterprises.

The global economy benefits when these enterprises are allowed to compete on a level playing field. As the countries of the Asia-Pacific region continue their efforts to support Small and Medium-sized Enterprises, the United States stands ready to partner with them.
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