US sees bright economic prospects for ASEAN

MANILA — The United States expects bright economic prospects for Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) regional bloc, with the youth contributing to the achievement of opportunities.

Ambassador Daniel Shields, Charge d’Affaires of US Mission to ASEAN, said the regional bloc was “critically important” for the US, noting that US investments in ASEAN over the years were higher than it had invested in Japan, China, India and Republic of Korea combined.

“So we really think the economic future of ASEAN is very bright… They (Trump administration) immediately sent a signal that ASEAN is really an important priority for the US, not just ASEAN the organization, but Southeast Asia as the region as well,” he said in an interview on the sidelines of Young Southeast Asian Leaders Initiative (YSEALI) Summit last week.

Shields cited the ASEAN Single Window (ASW) as an example of a US initiative with the regional bloc. The ASW uses electronic means to facilitate customs clearance and trade within ASEAN.

He said the US, through the US Agency for International Development (USAID), provided USD 10 million for the ASW initiative.

“The ASEAN countries put up much more. We work for years on this program and is now coming to fruition to facilitate trade all around the ASEAN and would benefit the US companies as well because they are very active in the region,” he added.

Meanwhile, the ambassador underscored the important role of youths relating to regional development considering that ASEAN was a young region.

“I think it is a tremendous opportunity. I know the projection by various international organizations is very optimistic about the economic future. I think the youth will contribute to building that bright economic future that we hope to see in the ASEAN,” said Shields.

He said the US had an interest in a “strong, unified ASEAN”.

“We look for opportunities to collaborate with ASEAN with these (YSEALI) emerging leaders to make progress some of these issues, whether it’s maritime or economic issues, transnational challenges like human trafficking, issues with regards to women leaders, young and emerging leaders. All these things we are trying to work together,” the ambassador added.

The YSEALI Summit is an advanced leadership workshop for YSEALI alumni that will equip delegates to address the complex political, social, economic and environmental issues now faced by ASEAN. Leslie Gatpolintan/PNA -northboundasia.com