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Clinton Talks Trade, Investment, Not Burma at the ASEAN Summit

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton delivers her speech during ASEAN Business and Investment Summit held on the sidelines of the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit in Nusa Dua, Indonesia, November 18, 2011.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is promoting U.S. economic engagement with Asia during the East Asia Summit in Bali. The secretary focused her public remarks on increasing economic ties to the region.

D. Robinson related report:

In an address to a group attending an ASEAN Business Summit, Secretary Clinton spoke about one of the main objectives of the U.S. policy of increased engagement in Southeast Asia, creating more business opportunities and jobs for Americans.

“We each recognize that economic policy is foreign policy and foreign policy is economic policy. And by strengthening diplomacy and presence abroad, we can strengthen our economies back home and actually vice-versa,” Clinton said.

The Secretary of State said while trade between the U.S. and Southeast Asia has tripled over the last 20 years, it still accounts for only 6 percent of U.S. global trade. And with the region home to some of the fastest economies in the world, rich in natural resources and growing domestic markets, the potential for American trade and investment opportunities is great.

The United States however is competing with China to develop southeast Asian markets. ASEAN Secretary General Surin Pitsuwan says China is currently the number one trading partner with ASEAN countries.

"We have already reached $300 billion a year towards trade. I think prime minister of China Wen Jiabao has put the figure at $500 billion for the year 2015, very ambitious, but things seem to be going in the right direction,” Clinton stated.

Secretary Clinton wants more opportunities for American firms to compete in this economic arena and wants ASEAN to reduce trade barriers and apply the same rules to all investors. “We have to start by insisting on economic competition that is open, free, transparent and fair. That means taking on rules that prevent foreign investors from competing with local businesses to produce better goods and services,” she said.

She says the United States is now pushing back on unfair trade practices. She says these efforts have helped increase efforts by the Obama administration to help U.S. companies like construction equipment maker Caterpillar build a new plant in Indonesia, and aircraft manufacturer Boeing secure multi billion dollar deals with Thai Airways and Indonesia's Lion Air.

Clinton says the U.S. supports ASEAN efforts to develop a Trans Pacific Trade Agreement that would create a regional legal frame work for trade and investment and would include standards for worker protections and the environment.