ASEAN Economic Ministers visit Los Angeles, Silicon Valley and Washington, DC to discuss trade. Image: Fotopedia

ASEAN Economic Ministers Embark on Three-Day U.S. Roadshow

ASEAN The Mekong

Economic ministers from the 10 ASEAN member-states, along with Deputy Secretary-General for the ASEAN Economic Community Lim Hong Hin, are visiting the United States from June 10 to June 14, for events in Los Angeles, Silicon Valley, and Washington, D.C. The ASEAN Economic Trade Ministers’ Road Show is intended to showcase ASEAN’s potential for increased U.S. trade and investment and the delegation is expected to highlight the already close cooperative economic activities between the United States and ASEAN. In all three venues the ministers plan to meet with local and national officials and representatives from US companies to discuss investment and greater trade between the United States and Southeast Asia. This is the first time that officials from Myanmar have been included in the trip, a reflection of the improved US-Myanmar bilateral relationship.

In Los Angeles, the ministers met with representatives from Fox Studios and the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) to discuss intellectual property rights and ways to promote creative industries in ASEAN. This was followed by a tour of Covidien, a medical devices manufacturer looking to expand its operations in Asia, and later by a meeting with officials from the Port of Los Angeles and other local business and government leaders. In Silicon Valley, the ministers met with some of America’s largest tech companies, namely Google, Microsoft, Intel, and Qualcomm.

The California focus of the trip is in keeping with the state’s important role in US-ASEAN trade. According to the U.S. International Trade Administration, California’s goods exports to ASEAN in 2012 totaled $11.6 billion, very close to the state’s total goods exports to China ($13.6 billion) or Japan ($12.6 billion). California’s goods exports to ASEAN last year comprised 15 percent of all U.S. exports to ASEAN and were second in value only to Texas ($12.1 billion).

In Washington, D.C., the ASEAN ministers and U.S. officials will hold a joint council and investment meeting to further discuss the U.S.-ASEAN Expanded Economic Engagement (E3) initiative, announced by President Obama last October. The initiative, which builds on the previous Trade and Investment Framework Arrangement (TIFA), aims to enhance U.S.-ASEAN trade ahead of further intra-ASEAN economic integration in 2015 via the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC). The U.S.-ASEAN Business Council, which organized the roadshow in collaboration with the U.S. government, will host a final gala dinner bringing together the ministers and members of Washington-area think tanks and civil society organizations on June 13.