ASEAN, US continue to foster economic engagement

The ASEAN Economic Ministers (AEM) and the US Trade Representative (USTR) Consultations took place virtually on August 27 as part of the 52nd meeting of the ASEAN Economic Ministers (AEM-52).

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The function was co-chaired by Vietnamese Minister of Industry and Trade Tran Tuan Anh and US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer.

At the event, the ministers spoke highly of significant progress made in the implementation of the ASEAN-US Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) in the 2019-20 period and the US-ASEAN Expanded Economic Engagement (E3) initiative.

They welcomed cooperation plans to further carry out the initiative in the 2020-2021, and a proposal to organise a US-ASEAN dialogue on labour rights and trade this year to enhance mutual understanding and exchange views on labour rights in free trade agreements (FTAs).

At the event, ASEAN ministers also highly valued the US’s technical support for ASEAN in the spheres of innovation and e-commerce.

Delegates of both sides expressed concern about the COVID-19 pandemic which has taken its toll on people’s lives and economic growth around the globe.

Tourism, transport, manufacturing, retail and other services are among the hardest-hit by the pandemic, as well as the supply sectors and the financial market, they underlined.

They reiterated the importance of opening the markets for trade and investment in a bid to mitigate the impacts of COVID-19 and maintain the flow of products and services between the two sides.

The ministers agreed to refrain from imposing measures which restrict the flow of essential goods, including non-tariff ones, to address difficulties triggered by the pandemic.

Moreover, they consented to apply measures promoting economic recovery during and after the pandemic.

Of note, the ministers appreciated the US-ASEAN Business Council (US-ABC)’s efforts to strengthen trade and business relations between the sides.

They also welcomed an e-commerce report by the US-ABC and took note of initiatives in the report, which aim to help ASEAN nations develop an e-commerce ecosystem and allow seamless cross-border e-commerce activities.

Total trade value between ASEAN and the US increased 12% last year. Statistics of ASEAN showed that two-way trade hit US$294.6 trillion, while FDI from the US into the bloc was US$24.5 trillion.

The US has become the second largest trade partner and the leading investor of ASEAN in 2019.
VNA

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