News / USA

    Obama: Greater US Focus on Asia Pays Off, Will Continue

    U.S. President Barack Obama holds a newss conference following the 10-nation Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) summit in Rancho Mirage, California, Feb. 16, 2016.
    U.S. President Barack Obama holds a newss conference following the 10-nation Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) summit in Rancho Mirage, California, Feb. 16, 2016.
    Jim Randle

    President Barack Obama says a pivot of U.S. foreign, military, and economic policy toward Asia is paying off and will continue. But critics say the trade deal that is the most important economic component of this so-called rebalancing of Washington’s attention and resources is in serious trouble.

    ASEAN

    Speaking in California at a recent meeting of leaders from Southeast Asia, Obama said efforts to improve the rule of law will encourage more trade and investment between the United States and members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.

    President Barack Obama, center, and leaders of ASEAN, the 10-nation Association of Southeast Asian Nations, wave as they pose for a group photo at the Annenberg Retreat at Sunnylands in Rancho Mirage, Calif., Feb. 16, 2016.
    President Barack Obama, center, and leaders of ASEAN, the 10-nation Association of Southeast Asian Nations, wave as they pose for a group photo at the Annenberg Retreat at Sunnylands in Rancho Mirage, Calif., Feb. 16, 2016.

    The 10 nations of ASEAN represent a population of more than 600 million and an economy totaling around $2.4 trillion. Together, the ASEAN nations are already the top destination for U.S. investment in Asia – amounting to $226 billion last year. That’s more than the U.S. investment in China, Japan or South Korea.

    White House officials say Obama has been working to pivot or "rebalance” policy toward Asia since he took office, because of the region’s strategic and growing economic importance.

    Economic issues

    Michael Auslin of the American Enterprise Institute says the pivot was largely a response to worries that the balance of power in the region was shifting away from the United States and liberal democratic nations and toward China.

    Many concerns grew out of military issues, but the new Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank is an example of the growing economic challenge as well. The AIIB has 57 member nations and started with $100 billion in capital, nearly a third of that coming from China. The U.S. is not a member of AIIB, and the new bank positions itself as an alternative to the World Bank, which is heavily influenced by the United States.

    The most important economic part of the Obama administration’s pivot to Asia is the trade deal called the Trans Pacific Partnership, which AEI Asia scholar Auslin says faces an uncertain future.

    TPP Countries and Other Global Trade Agreements
    TPP Countries and Other Global Trade Agreements

    TPP groups 12 Asia-Pacific nations, including the United States and some members of ASEAN. Auslin says freer trade between the United States, Japan and other TPP nations could help the economy. Treaty supporters also say it is also a chance for Washington and other TPP nations to craft the trade rules of the future. China is not part of a member of the TPP.

    Skeptical Congress

    While the TPP has been signed by its member states, a skeptical U.S. Congress must approve Washington's full participation. Obama usually gets congressional support from members of his Democratic Party, but many of them oppose the TPP because they contend it will cost U.S. workers their jobs. Republicans, who control both houses of Congress, usually support trade deals, but this "partnership" is different: many Republicans, including some who are running for president, oppose it.

    Auslin says the TPP faces an extremely difficult fight in Congress. And without the United States, he adds, TPP membership will have little value.

    Criticism 'overwrought?'

    One of the architects of the pivot to Asia, Kurt Campbell, has written that worries about the lack of progress in the rebalance to Asia are “overwrought,” but should be “taken very seriously.”

    FILE - U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for East Asia and Pacific Affairs, Kurt Campbell speaks to the media at foreign ministry in Tokyo, Jan. 17, 2013.
    FILE - U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for East Asia and Pacific Affairs, Kurt Campbell speaks to the media at foreign ministry in Tokyo, Jan. 17, 2013.

    Campbell was assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific affairs until 2013, and previously held high ranking positions at the Pentagon and White House dealing with Asian issues.

    The TPP can have a "decisive" effect on members' growth, Campbell wrote in 2014, and he urged his former boss, President Obama, to push harder for the deal's approval.

    With anxieties on the rise in an “increasingly uncertain” region, Campbell says more U.S. engagement with key nations like China, India, and others in Southeast Asia could have a calming effect.

    Washington and Beijing should strive for “practical cooperation," he says, by building up their military relations and working together on issues such as development, energy security and disaster relief.

    Campbell now heads The Asia Group, a private firm that advises investors and others. He says the U.S. needs to consider opportunities in Vietnam, Indonesia, Thailand and Myanmar.

    The focus on economic issues has been sharpened by recent trading chaos on stock and oil markets, concerns about slowing growth in China and a recent downgrade in predicted global economic growth from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.

    You May Like

    Russia Sees Brexit Impact Widespread but Temporary

    Officials, citizens react to Britain’s vote to exit European Union with mix of pleasure, understanding and concern

    Obama Encourages Entrepreneurs to Seek Global Interconnection

    President tells entrepreneurs at global summit at Stanford University to find mentors, push ahead with new ideas on day after Britain voters decide to exit EU

    Video Some US Gun Owners Support Gun Control

    Defying the stereotype, Dave Makings says he'd give up his assault rifle for a comprehensive program to reduce gun violence

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: suny from: eu
    February 23, 2016 9:56 AM
    "I see [the country going] backward more than forward. So, this is why we start to worry. And when it comes to the draft constitution, [this] is the worst constitution ever," Thaksin told Al Jazeera, comparing it with something that could have been written in North Korea.
    "They said they can't talk to me because of the cases against me but a coup is a bigger crime," he said.

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Brexit Vote Plunges Global Markets Into Unchartered Territoryi
    X
    June 24, 2016 9:38 PM
    British voters plunged global markets into unknown territory after they voted Thursday to leave the European Union. The results of the Brexit vote, the term coined to describe the referendum, caught many off guard. Analysts say the resulting volatility could last for weeks, perhaps longer. Mil Arcega reports.
    Video

    Video Brexit Vote Plunges Global Markets Into Unchartered Territory

    British voters plunged global markets into unknown territory after they voted Thursday to leave the European Union. The results of the Brexit vote, the term coined to describe the referendum, caught many off guard. Analysts say the resulting volatility could last for weeks, perhaps longer. Mil Arcega reports.
    Video

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.
    Video

    Video Tunisian Fishing Town Searches for Jobs, Local Development Solutions

    As the European Union tries to come to grips with its migrant crisis, some newcomers are leaving voluntarily. But those returning to their home countries face an uncertain future.  Five years after Tunisia's revolution, the tiny North African country is struggling with unrest, soaring unemployment and plummeting growth. From the southern Tunisian fishing town of Zarzis, Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at a search for local solutions.
    Video

    Video 'American Troops' in Russia Despite Tensions

    Historic battle re-enactment is a niche hobby with a fair number of adherents in Russia where past military victories are played-up by the Kremlin as a show of national strength. But, one group of World War II re-enactors in Moscow has the rare distinction of choosing to play western ally troops. VOA's Daniel Schearf explains.
    Video

    Video Experts: Very Few Killed in US Gun Violence Are Victims of Mass Shootings

    The deadly shooting at a Florida nightclub has reignited the debate in the U.S. over gun control. Although Congress doesn't provide government health agencies funds to study gun violence, public health experts say private research has helped them learn some things about the issue. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
    Video

    Video Trump Unleashes Broadside Against Clinton to Try to Ease GOP Doubts

    Recent public opinion polls show Republican Donald Trump slipping behind Democrat Hillary Clinton in the presidential election matchup for November. Trump trails her both in fundraising and campaign organization, but he's intensifying his attacks on the former secretary of state. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports.
    Video

    Video Muslim American Mayor Calls for Tolerance

    Syrian-born Mohamed Khairullah describes himself as "an American mayor who happens to be Muslim." As the three-term mayor of Prospect Park, New Jersey, he believes his town of 6,000 is an example of how ethnicity and religious beliefs should not determine a community's leadership. Ramon Taylor has this report from Prospect Park.
    Video

    Video Internal Rifts Over Syria Policy Could Be Headache for Next US President

    With the Obama administration showing little outward enthusiasm for adopting a more robust Syria policy, there is a strong likelihood that the internal discontent expressed by State Department employees will roll over to the next administration. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports.
    Video

    Video Senegal to Park Colorful ‘Cars Rapide’ Permanently

    Brightly painted cars rapide are a hallmark of Dakar, offering residents a cheap way to get around the capital city since 1976. But the privately owned minibuses are scheduled to be parked for good in late 2018, as Ricci Shryock reports for VOA.
    Video

    Video Florida Gets $1 Million in Emergency Government Funding for Orlando

    The U.S. government has granted $1 million in emergency funding to the state of Florida to cover the costs linked to the June 12 massacre in Orlando. U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch announced the grant Tuesday in Orlando, where she met with survivors of the shooting attack that killed 49 people. Zlatica Hoke reports.
    Video

    Video How to Print Impossible Shapes with Metal

    3-D printing with metals is rapidly becoming more advanced. As printers become more affordable, the industry is partnering with universities to refine processes for manufacturing previously impossible things. A new 3-D printing lab aims to bring the new technology closer to everyday use. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Big Somali Community in Minnesota Observes Muslim Religious Feast

    Ramadan is widely observed in the north central US state of Minnesota, which a large Muslim community calls home. VOA Somali service reporter Mohmud Masadde files this report from Minneapolis, the state's biggest city.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora