U.S.-ASEAN Expanded Economic Engagement Initiative Praised

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Oct. 10 – U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, along with several Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) leaders, praised the progress of the U.S.-ASEAN Expanded Economic Engagement (E3) initiative during the ASEAN Leaders Meeting held in Brunei Darussalam this week.

The E3 – which is entering into its second year of implementation – is a strategic framework designed to facilitate trade and investment opportunities between the United States and all 10 ASEAN nations. During its first year in effect, the E3 initiative has already achieved several milestones in strengthening relationships between businesses in the U.S. and ASEAN.

These achievements include increased collaboration between ASEAN leaders and government officials and entrepreneurs from California’s Silicon Valley to establish intellectual property protections designed to increase cooperative investment and innovation. Further initiatives seek to facilitate greater conformity between the U.S. and ASEAN with regard to practice standards in the health supplements and medical devices industries.

According to the U.S. Department of State: “[The] E3 identifies specific cooperative activities to facilitate US-ASEAN trade and investment [to] increase efficiency and competitiveness of trade flows and supply chains throughout ASEAN, and build greater awareness of the commercial opportunities that the growing US-ASEAN economic relationship presents.”

The E3 initiative was signed in November 2012 during the U.S.-ASEAN leaders meeting following a renewed focus by the United States on economic cooperation with Southeast Asian nations.

During his visit to Brunei Darussalam, Secretary Kerry reaffirmed the United State’s commitment to the E3 program, noting that “without any question, ASEAN has been at the center of the Asia Pacific’s regional architecture. And this organization is also at the center of the United States’ strategy to rebalance our resources and our engagement in the region.”

“We’re working to strengthen every single part of our relationship [with ASEAN], including our economic links directly between our citizens. Bolstering our shared prosperity through economic growth and development is one of the primary goals that’s at the heart of the US-ASEAN relationship,” he further added.

The E3 has also helped establish a public-private partnership program designed to increase skill-based training programs for small to medium enterprises currently operating in the ASEAN bloc with help from the U.S.-ASEAN Business Council, USAID and several large American corporations.

Moving forward, the E3 will focus on several important initiatives, which includes the creation of an official joint statement of Shared Principles for International Investment and a joint framework agreement to assist regulatory policy makers.

The E3 will also continue to develop a U.S.-ASEAN trade facilitation agreement, which will include simplified and transparent customs procedures.

In 2012, bilateral trade between the U.S. and ASEAN had grown to US$198 billion, and mutual trade in services reached US$30 billion in 2011.

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