US Congress praises ASEAN’S success story
The US Congress passed a resolution on Wednesday recognising ASEAN’S achievements in maintaining regional peace and stability, and celebrating the 40th anniversary of US-ASEAN relations.
THE US Congress passed a resolution on Wednesday recognising the 50th anniversary of ASEAN and its contribution to stability, prosperity, and peace in South East Asia.
The resolution also marks the 40th anniversary of the ASEAN-US relations and recognises the positive results of that engagement. It is a significant move by US lawmakers to strengthen ties with ASEAN under President Donald Trump.
The resolution was introduced by Democratic Congressman Joaquin Castro of Texas and Republican Congresswoman Ann Wagner of Missouri, who co-chair the Congressional Caucus on ASEAN and are members of the House Foreign Affairs Committee.
“As the United States and ASEAN mark 40 years of diplomatic relations, our nations have an opportunity to reaffirm our commitment to shared goals and look for areas of even greater cooperation,” said Rep. Castro.
During the second term of President George W. Bush (2004-2008), the US Congress began to pay attention to ASEAN due to its strategic value. Republican Sen. Richard Lugar of Indiana was the main force behind the push for closer relations with ASEAN.
To his credit, Lugar proposed the appointment of an ASEAN envoy to the ASEAN Secretariat in Jakarta in 2010, making the US the group’s first dialogue partner to do this.
“Congresswoman Ann Wagner... and I introduced this resolution to recognise this landmark year and the importance of the United States’ strategic relationship with ASEAN member states. From strengthening regional security and growing the US-ASEAN economic partnership, to promoting human rights and safeguarding South East Asian maritime passageways, there are numerous high-priority areas in which the United States and ASEAN collaboration will yield greater successes than if our nations operate independently. I’m very pleased the House of Representatives passed this measure, and I look forward to the Congressional Caucus on ASEAN’S continued work to enhance US-ASEAN engagement,” the congressman said in a statement.
Among its provisions, the resolution reaffirms the elevation of the United STATES-ASEAN relationship to a strategic partnership and the enhancement of US-ASEAN economic engagement; recognises the value of ASEAN working with economic, political, and security partners both inside of and outside of Asia; supports efforts by ASEAN member states to address maritime and territorial disputes in a constructive manner to promote peace and stability in the region; and encourages President Trump to communicate to ASEAN leaders the importance of protecting human rights.
“I am thrilled that the House has passed H.res.311,” said Rep. Wagner, adding, “We intend for this resolution to raise awareness within and outside of Congress about South East Asia’s critical role in the global order. Congressman Castro and I founded the Congressional Caucus on ASEAN to acknowledge that America must be the foremost trade and defence partner for ASEAN countries.
“This resolution affirms the critical US strategic partnership with ASEAN and seeks to advance our economic engagement with the region. The US is also committed to partnering with ASEAN to halt human smuggling and human trafficking, and improve assistance to refugees and migrants. I look forward to working with our ASEAN peers to make the next 40 years of USASEAN engagement even more fruitful than the first 40 years.”
ASEAN ranks fourth, after Canada, Mexico and China, as a market for US exports and the US is the group’s fourth-largest trading partner. The US exported US$75 billion (K102.2 trillion) in goods and $27 billion in services to ASEAN in 2016, an increase of 81 percent since 2004.
Trump is scheduled to attend the 12th East Asia Summit in November at Clark Airbase in the Philippines and meet with the leaders of ASEAN, China, Japan, South Korea, India, Australia and New Zealand.
Almost 42,000 companies across the US export to ASEAN, creating almost 550,000 jobs for US workers, according to 2015 estimates. Eighteen states have more than 10,000 jobs that rely on exports to ASEAN.