Background Briefing on ASEAN, East Asia Summits

THE WHITE HOUSE, Office of the Press Secretary, Nov 19, 2011

Nov 19, 2011. SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: The two moving parts to the East Asia Summit were the plenary session, which was a fairly scripted discussion of the five somewhat arcane areas of focus, historical, from the beginning of the EAS six years ago, including things like avian flu and so on, where each leader—intervention, and the leaders retreat, which was private, just the leaders plus one, with no separate—no sound, anyway, in a note-taking room. So it really was a more intimate discussion.

Apart from the ritualistic recitation of some of the ASEAN steps on the specific historical agenda, the bulk of the plenary discussion focused on disaster relief and some of the initiatives that have been taken by member countries, including the U.S. proposal for a disaster relief mechanism that would allow for quick response by pre-cooking access agreements in advance of an emergency.

By far the most interesting element in the East Asia Summit was the leaders retreat, which followed a social lunch and lasted for just under two hours. Thereto, there were a number of ASEAN-specific issues that were touched on by many of the leaders, including as related to economic integration, free trade, education, continued discussion on disaster response and so on.

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TPP Negotiators Conclude Strong Ninth Round of Negotiations in Lima, Peru

Lima, Peru – Oct 28, 2011. The United States and its Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) partners concluded a ninth round of negotiations in Lima, Peru. During this round, negotiators built upon progress made in previous rounds and pressed forward toward the goal of reaching the broad outlines of an ambitious, jobs-focused agreement by the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Leaders’ meeting in Honolulu, HI next month. At APEC, President Obama and his counterparts from the other eight TPP countries will take stock of progress to date and discuss next steps.

TPP negotiators from the United States, Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Chile, Malaysia, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, and Vietnam made further considerable progress on the legal texts of the agreement, as well as on the cross-cutting issues of small- and medium-sized enterprises, regulatory coherence, competitiveness, and development. With further domestic consultation on outstanding issues, the nine countries will move toward closure of a number of chapters. On more complex and sensitive chapters countries need more time to find convergence.

Before this round, the United States also put forward its new proposed text on state-owned enterprises, on which the teams had constructive initial discussions. This text was prepared in close consultation with U.S. stakeholders and Congress. The text is intended to help level the playing field for U.S. exporters and workers by addressing distortions to trade and competition that result from unfair advantages governments provide to these enterprises. The United States also tabled new text on labor, and the teams had a productive exchange on this issue as well.

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Amid efforts on Korea, U.S. seeks Asia inroads in the Lower Mekong Initiative

NUSA DUA, Indonesia. Jul 23, 2011. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called for deeper U.S. involvement in Southeast Asia to help bolster its poorest countries, while the region’s leaders worked to broker what they hoped would be progress in one of Asia’s other hot spots: North Korea.

Meeting on the sidelines of the annual Association of Southeast Asian Nations Regional Forum in Bali on Friday, senior nuclear negotiators from North and South Korea agreed broadly to take steps to return to a bigger diplomatic process, known as the six-party talks, which are aimed at ending the North’s pursuit of nuclear weapons. That process, which also involves China, Japan, Russia and the U.S., fell apart three years ago.

However, the diplomats didn’t describe how they planned to resolve the many differences that have left the process in limbo since 2009. U.S. officials, meanwhile, said it would take time to know if any serious progress, including more substantive concessions from North Korea, would materialize.

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Joint Statement from Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Ministers Meeting on Margins of APEC in Montana

Big Sky, MT – Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) ministers met today on the margins of the APEC Ministers Responsible for Trade meeting to take stock of progress made so far and to consider the path forward as they seek to conclude a high-standard, regional trade agreement. Joining the meeting were Australian Minister for Trade Craig Emerson, Bruneian Second Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade Pehin Lim Jock Seng, Chilean Vice Minister of Trade Jorge Bunster, Malaysian Secretary General for International Trade and Industry Rebecca Fatima Sta. Maria, New Zealand Minister of Trade Tim Groser, Peruvian Minister of Foreign Trade and Tourism Eduardo Ferreyros Kuppers, Singaporean Permanent Secretary for Trade and Industry Ow Foong Pheng, U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk, and Vietnamese Minister of Planning and Investment Vo Hong Phuc.

The ministers discussed the progress so far after six rounds of negotiations and were pleased with the steady and solid progress to date in this highly complex negotiation, which shows great promise as a possible pathway to development of the Free Trade Area of the Asia Pacific. The more than 20 negotiating teams already have consolidated texts reflecting different countries’ positions in virtually all areas to be covered by the agreement. They are now well into negotiations on each of these texts and are working to try to finalize agreement on specific legal commitments across the spectrum of their trade and investment relationships. At the same time, the negotiating teams have made good progress in negotiations over access to each others’ markets for industrial goods, agriculture, textiles, services, investment and government procurement.

The ministers discussed new cross-cutting issues to be included in the TPP and welcomed the work done so far to consider ways to address issues faced by their businesses and workers in the 21st century. They agreed that by incorporating new provisions that address these issues, this agreement can support the creation and retention of jobs in their countries as well as contribute meaningfully to their economic growth and development. The ministers welcomed the creative approaches developed so far to promote cooperation on regulatory issues, develop new approaches to facilitate business and strengthen the development of supply and production chains among members, promote the participation of small- and medium-sized enterprises in trade with TPP countries, and support development. They also encouraged the negotiating groups to refine and supplement the proposals already under discussion to ensure that the agreement is as beneficial as possible to all current and future TPP members.

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PM highlights Vietnam’s viewpoints on ASEAN Community roadmap

In the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) pillar, the PM said the bloc should speed up the progress for the establishment of the AEC by 2015 as scheduled.

He said he agreed with the AEC Council’s proposal on priorities to 2015 as well as priority on building a balanced economic region.

Along with implementing the AEC, ASEAN needs to chart following steps for the ASEAN economic connectivity after 2015, which allows the bloc to both integrate in a dynamic and flexible manner and look towards a stronger connectivity with measures at higher levels.

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