SIEM REAP, Cambodia – Consultations between the ASEAN Economic Ministers and the United States Trade Representative concluded on Thursday and the two sides agreed to further deepen trade and investment ties.

The dialogue was co-chaired by Cambodian Minister of Commerce Cham Prasidh and Ambassador Ron Kirt, the United States Trade Representative.

“They underscored the opportunities for deepening economic ties and reiterated their commitment to further building the trade and investment relationship between ASEAN and the United States,” said a joint statement after the meeting.

“ASEAN and the United States are considered as engines of global economic activity and growth, and that ever closer economic ties are of crucial importance to ASEAN and the United States, as well as the world,” the statement said.

The ministers expressed their satisfaction with the activities being implemented under the ASEAN US Trade and Investment Framework Arrangement (TIFA) in 2012 and plan to soon endorse a TIFA work plan for 2013.

Among the initiatives under consideration for 2013 are continued cooperation on trade facilitation, the digital economy, trade and the environment, and priority areas for ASEAN integration including small and medium enterprise development and ASEAN connectivity.

They also reaffirmed the necessity of organizing a second ASEAN Ministers Road Show to the United States in 2013, with the aim of further raising awareness of the ASEAN region and promoting ASEAN-US economic relations.

According to the statement, trade between ASEAN and the United States remained strong. Last year, the total trade between ASEAN and the United States showed a 9.2 percent increase, growing from $178 billion to $194 billion.

ASEAN imports from the United States increased by 8.6 percent to $76.4 billion while exports grew 9.8 percent to $118. 2 billion.
It said that the United States remained the fourth largest trading partner of ASEAN and, collectively, ASEAN is the fifth largest goods trading partner of the United States.

In the investment side, it said that the United States remained the third largest foreign direct investor in ASEAN.

According to the United States’ data, last year, the US foreign direct investment stock in ASEAN countries was $159.6 billion, up 11.2 percent compared to 2010. ASEAN foreign direct investment stock in the United States demonstrated even stronger growth, increasing 13.1 percent to $24.6 billion.

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) groups Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam. –(Xinhua)