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U.S. Department of State
96/07/24 Statment: ASEAN Post-Ministerial Conference
Office of the Spokesman
U.S. Department of State
Office of the Spokesman
WRITTEN STATEMENT BY
SECRETARY OF STATE WARREN CHRISTOPHER
AT THE ASEAN POST-MINISTERIAL CONFERENCE (7 PLUS 1 SESSION)
July 24, 1996
It is a great pleasure to have this opportunity to exchange views with
my colleague Foreign Minister Alatas in his capacity as ASEAN's dialogue
partner. The scope and depth of our discussions over the last two days
at the ASEAN Regional Forum and this Post-Ministerial Conference reflect
both ASEAN's great achievements and the growing importance of our
On my trips to Southeast Asia, I have seen first-hand the remarkable
changes taking place in this region. In the space of a generation,
ASEAN's economies have gone from selling tin and rubber to making
microchips and automobiles. From Bangkok to Bandung, the children of a
growing middle class now have opportunities and freedoms that their
grandparents might not have imagined. Here in Indonesia -- the most
populous ASEAN nation -- per capita income has risen tenfold in the last
three decades, an achievement that mirrors the strides that this nation
has made in providing for the health, education and welfare of its
I have also seen how ASEAN has progressed from upholding a fragile unity
to advancing a unique vision of cooperation. Born amid the turmoil of
the Vietnam War, ASEAN came full circle last year when Vietnam joined as
a full member. Now you are consolidating the peace that you helped to
achieve in Indochina. Through this PMC process, as well as the Aions continue to provide for
our security presence -- the strategic underpinning of the stability and
prosperity that the Asia-Pacific region has enjoyed during the last
half-century. Our alliances with Australia, the Philippines and
Thailand, and our access arrangements with other ASEAN countries,
provide the anchor in Southeast Asia for our unshakable commitment to
security across the Pacific.
We look forward to deepening the cooperation and ties among our armed
services. Our nations and the region benefit from the military
exercises that we conduct -- including Cobra Gold, the Pacific Command's
largest joint exercise. They benefit from the continued U.S. access to
commercial and military facilities which helps to ensure the readiness
of our forces. They benefit from the provision of training that
emphasizes the importance of civilian control over the military and
respect for basic, universal human rights. And they benefit from the
sale of U.S. military technology that enables ASEAN nations to meet
their legitimate defense needs.
This PMC process and the ASEAN Regional Forum complement our bilateral
security relationships by providing a valuable opportunity to discuss
pressing regional and global security issues. Whether peace on the
Korean Peninsula, the completion of a Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, or
the fight against transnational threats, the United States and ASEAN
stand to gain by deepening our cooperation across a broad front.
Indeed, our strategic and economic interests are deeply intertwined.
Only by working together to promote security and stability can we hope
to sustain the economic dynamism of the Asia-Pacific region.
Today the ASEAN nations form a half-trillion-dollar regional economy
that is expected to double in size over the next decade. With expanding
middle classes, swelling demand for consumer goods and services and
growing need for infrastructure, ASEAN looms large in the strategies of
American companies -- and has attracted the attention of the United
States Government as one of the world's ten Big Emerging Markets.
The United States has been proud to participate in and contribute to
this spectacular development. Two-way trade between the United States
and ASEAN reached $101 billion in 1995, having expanded nearly 50% over
the last two years. ASEAN has become our third largest overseas export
market. American investment in the region now exceeds $25 billion.
From building power plants and producing computer equipment to selling
insurance and operating communications networks, the U.S. commercial
presence in the region is as varied as it is enormous.
The United States strongly supports ASEAN's commitment to regional
liberalization and greater openness to the global economy at the same
time. New patterns of trade and investment are linking markets and
blurring borders throughout Southeast Asia. AFTA's goal of cutting
tariffs by 2000 will spur faster growth and deeper integration among the
region's economies and will contribute to our APEC goal of free and open
trade by 2020.
The ASEAN economies already boast many of the defining elements of a
world-class business environment, and progress continues to be made that
inspires confidence in the future. Governments are reinforcing their
commitment to market reforms. Workforces are gaining technical
sophistication. Private sector companies are proving themselves in the
high-pressure crucible of competition. Physical and financial
infrastructures are expanding to meet the demands of growth.
But in this fast-forward world in which the only constant is change, no
country or region -- including the United States -- can relax its drive
for improvement. As I suggested at our 7-plus-1 session last year in
Brunei, ASEAN's ability to make concrete progress in meeting several
specific challenges can make it an even more powerful magnet for
international investment and trade.
First, we strongly support efforts to complete an AFTA agreement on
intellectual property rights that meets the highest international
standards. A strong agreement will attract potential investors and
foster a research environment more conducive to local development of
technologies such as computer software. To further strengthen investor
confidence, we also call on ASEAN members to implement rapidly the
global agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property
Protection. At the same time, we urge individual ASEAN countries to
toughen enforcement of their national laws.
Second, we welcome efforts to reach an AFTA agreement on liberalizing
trade in services -- especially financial services. Doing so by 1997
can give crucial and timely impetus to the important global agreement in
financial services that we are pursuing through the World Trade
Third, we believe it is also in the interests of the ASEAN nations to
open up competition in their massive emerging telecommunications
markets, and to treat all service providers equally. All over the
world, governments are breaking up long-entrenched monopolies to
encourage price competition and improve service. Such liberalization
can be supported by the creation of independent regulatory bodies that
will follow non-discriminatory and transparent procedures to safeguard
against monopoly domination of markets.
Fourth, we believe that the ASEAN nations should support the
liberalization of air transport throughout the Asia-Pacific region. By
introducing free competition in air services, the peoples and economies
of our vast region can be more closely linked through more affordable
and efficient passenger and cargo services.
Fifth, we urge ASEAN to develop transparent, fair and consistent
guidelines for government procurement contracts. Such guidelines would
ensure that the region has the benefit of the most competitive, cost-
efficient contracts for the airports, port facilities,
telecommunications and traffic systems that it needs to sustain
investment and growth.
Finally, we also urge focused international action against the
persistent problem of illicit payments. Bribery and corruption
undermine productive development, discourage foreign investment, erode
the rule of law, and prevent fair competition on a level playing field.
For all these reasons, I have called attention to this problem in this
and every region of the world and led an effort on behalf of the United
States to establish common practices among OECD nations. As booming
market economies that seek to attract foreign investment and build
confidence in public institutions, the ASEAN nations have a
responsibility to promote transparent competition.
Meeting each of these challenges will improve the region's business
environment, and benefit both the ASEAN nations and their trading
partners. It will also extend the reach and strengthen the rules of the
open global trading system that has been essential to this region's
Late this year, two ASEAN nations will fittingly share the
responsibility of leadership on behalf of the global trading system:
first, when the Philippines hosts the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation
(APEC) forum in Manila in November; and second, when Singapore hosts the
first ministerial meeting of the World Trade Organization (WTO) one
The United States and Indonesia share a particular interest in APEC's
success. Three years ago, President Clinton brought APEC leaders
together for the first time and focused the region's economies on a
vision of unbounded economic growth and integration through
unprecedented liberalization and cooperation. Two years ago, President
Soeharto forged the consensus among the APEC member economies to achieve
open and free trade and investment across the region by 2020. This
year, President Ramos will have our full support as he takes on the
critical task of ensuring that we move ahead with the implementation of
the Osaka Action Agenda that Japan did much to shape last November.
We are encouraged by the start that APEC member economies have made in
crafting Individual Action Plans to reach our common goals. It is
essential that our plans are comprehensive and comparable -- the keys to
realizing our shared vision of an open Pacific marketplace. It is also
essential that we continue to develop the economic cooperation that can
make the APEC region the most modern business environment in the world.
The WTO ministerial should promote the full implementation of the
commitments we made in the Uruguay Round agreement and galvanize our
efforts to conclude the Round's "unfinished business," especially in
services. The United States and ASEAN will both benefit from reaching
agreements in 1997 that embrace high standards of openness in two key
service sectors -- financial services and telecommunications. In both
negotiations, we look to ASEAN nations to make new offers on open access
and investment that are substantially more forthcoming.
In Singapore, we should also begin to set the WTO's priorities for the
early 21st century. We should strive to open up key sectors, for
instance by considering an Information Technology Agreement in that
vital sector. We should also place new emphasis on government
procurement. An agreement to increase transparency can be a first step
toward more comprehensive liberalization of this sector.
Another WTO priority for the United States is to begin a dialogue on the
relationship between trade and core labor standards. Our approach
recognizes that different countries have different comparative
advantages, including different wage levels. But workers everywhere
should have the benefit of internationally recognized basic workers'
rights that we have all endorsed such as freedom of association and an
end to child labor exploitation and forced labor. Ensuring such
protections is also essential to maintaining the consensus for further
trade liberalization in the United States and around the world.
By striving together to ensure the success of the WTO and APEC, the
United States and ASEAN can sustain the momentum for regional and global
liberalization that has already produced such dramatic breakthroughs in
this decade. We can also greatly further the process of regional
integration that has done so much to strengthen our partnership over the
past decade. I look forward to working with you today to lay the
groundwork for progress to come.
Thank you very much.
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