KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 12 (Bernama) -- The US business community has expanded its

commitment to South-East Asia by launching the US-Asean Business Council’s

first official Asean committee during the Asean Economic Ministers Meeting

(AEM) in Manado, Indonesia today.

The committee, chaired by Procter & Gamble vice-president for Asean, Sam

Kim, will channel US private sector support for Asean economic integration and

capacity building for member states and the Asean secretariat, the US-Asean

Business Council said in a press release made available here.

The council announced the formation of the committee during its dialogue

with the ten Asean economic ministers and Deputy US Trade Representative (USTR),

Ambassador Demetrious Marantis.

The council is the only US-based organisation which is annually invited to

the AEM Meeting.

It represents over 100 major US corporations, ranging from those who have

been active in South-East Asia for over 100 years to newcomers looking to expand

their presence in one of the world’s most dynamic markets

Mari Elka Pangestu, who is the AEM Chair this year and also Indonesia''s

Trade Minister, told the council''s representatives that the AEM and the USTR had

agreed to organise a roadshow to the US to promote Asean to the US business

community; as well as an Asean-US Business Forum next year.

"It is crucial to include both government and business sectors in such

initiatives to strengthen and deepen economic integration between Asean and the


"The Business Forum is expected to focus on the selected business sectors

that Asean and the US have mutual interests, among others," Mari said.

Meanwhile, Sam Kim said that this was a critical period for Asean, pointing

out that the Asean leaders had recognised that the region can unlock its vast

economic potential by becoming an Asean Economic Community as a single market

and production base.

"They have laid some impressive groundwork. The key now is for Asean to

continue successfully implement its plans for harmonisation across the

region, which includes executing the Asean Connectivity Master Plan, Single

Window, the Logistics Roadmap, and common standards throughout the region in

sectors such as food, consumer products, digital technology and healthcare," he


He said the US-Asean Business Council’s Asean committee would organise

the US private sector’s support for these efforts.

Council president, Alexander Feldman, said Asean’s successful integration

would create a market of 600 million people across ten countries.

"If it were a single nation, it would be the world’s third most populous.

"The council has been working with Asean for almost 27 years, but the

upcoming economic integration makes this the perfect time to step up our

engagement" he said.

He said Asean was on the verge of becoming a global household name, and

the US private sector was committed to supporting Asean’s growth, through

capacity building for member states and the secretariat, and initiatives focused

on key growth sectors like infrastructure, healthcare, financial services and

information and communications technology.

The council’s delegation to the AEM meeting includes Procter & Gamble,

Hewlett-Packard, Johnson & Johnson, Cargill, FedEx Express, GE, Google,

Hewlett-Packard, Intel, Johnson & Johnson, Microsoft, Syngenta, UPS and White

and Case.

The council''s delegation will participate in the Asean Trade Facilitation

Forum in Manado tomorrow.

Indonesia''s Vice President Boediona opened the five-day 43rd AEM meeting

and its related meetings on Wednesday. -- BERNAMA


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