US National Security Advisor Highlights Growing Economic Ties With ASEAN

By The Irrawaddy 24 September 2014

The United States’ top security advisor said on Monday that Southeast Asian markets were critical to US prosperity and affirmed her country’s commitment to boosting trade and investment ties with the region.

In a speech at the Brookings Institution in Washington DC, the United States’ National Security Advisor Susan Rice emphasized growing economic and security cooperation in the region. She noted that countries such as Burma represented important new commercial opportunities and stressed that the US would seek to promote broad-based, sustainable growth in the region, so that prosperity was “shared among citizens at every level of society.”

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) is the fourth largest trading partner for the US and attracts more US investment than any other single country in Asia, Rice said.

Rice’s remarks came shortly before a high-profile business and investment forum on Burma was due to begin in New York on Sept. 24. Government representatives from Burma and the United States, as well as some 200 high-ranking executives from national and multinational firms, will attend the forum to discuss Burma’s economic reforms and investment opportunities.

Rice also spoke of the United States’ commitment to work with governments and institutions in the region to strengthen democracy and human rights. In this context, she said that despite “hopeful steps” in Burma, significant challenges remained. The US would, “continue to work with the [Burmese] government and people as they pursue their democratic transition,” Rice said.

Despite the prospect of burgeoning US-Burma economic ties, according to Burma’s Directorate of Investment and Company Administration, US investment in the country has remained relatively minimal, at US$243 million since sanctions were eased in 2012.

In November, US President Barack Obama will travel to Burma to attend the East Asia Summit in Naypyidaw. Burma is hosting the summit in its capacity as chair of ASEAN in 2014.