The sixth meeting of the ASEAN – U.S. Dialogue took place in Washington D.C., April 2 and 3, 1985 in the Department of State.
The ASEAN delegations were led by Ambassador Lim Jock Seng, Director General, ASEAN National Secretariat, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Brunei Darussalam; Ambassador Adiwoso Abubakar, Director General, ASEAN National Secretariat, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Indonesia; Ambassador Mohamad Yusof Bin Hitam, Director General, ASEAN National Secretariat, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Malaysia; Minister Vicente B. Valdepenas, Jr., Director General, Philippine National Economic and Development Authorlty and Ambassador Benjamin T. Romualdez, Ambassador of the Philippines to the United States, as Co-chairmen; Ambassador Tan Keng Jin, Director-General , ASEAN National Secretariat, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Singapore; and Ambassador Kasem S. Kasemsri, Ambassador of Thailand to the United States. Minister Valdepenas was the ASEAN spokesman. Ambassador Phan Wannamethee. ASEAN Secretary General, and a member of his staff represented the ASEAN Secretariat. Dato Wan Sidek Bin Haji Wan Abdul Padmanegara, Chairman, ASEAN Committee oil Culture and Information, Mr Salmon Padmanegara, Chairman, ASEAN Committee Oil Food, Agriculture and Forestry, Datuk Ishak Bin Tadin, Chairman of the ASEAN Committee Oil Transport arid Communications, Edgardo L. Tordesillas, Chairman, ASEAN Committee Oil Industry, Minerals arid Energy, and Ridzwan Dzafir, Chairman, ASEAN Committee on Trade and Tourism, and Mr. Kasem Snidvongs, a representative of the Chairman of the ASEAN Committee on Science and Technology, also participated. Ambassador Mohamad Yusof Bin Hitam was also present as Chairman of the ASEAN Committee on Social Development.
The U.S. delegation was led b W. Allen Wallis, Under Secretary of State for Economic Affairs. Richard Howarth, Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary for East Asian and Pacific Affairs was deputy head of the U.S. delegation.
The U.S. delegation was made up of representatives of the Department of State, Commerce, Treasury, Labor and Agriculture, the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, AID, the Food and Drug Administration, and OPIC.
The Dialogue was opened by Secretary of State George Shultz who, in his opening remarks, stressed the importance the United States attaches to the countries of ASEAN and the value of the dialogue process. In his opening statement, Under Secretary Wallis reaffirmed the Increasingly close and friendly tics between the United States and ASEAN. In his remarks, -. Wallis noted that important U.S. objectives for the Dialogue are (a) to reinforce our mutual recognition of the central role of the private sector in our economic relationship, arid the appropriate role of governments, (b) to continue working on the microeconomic problems which affect the ASEAN -U.S. relationships and (c) to hear ASEAN’s views on major international economic issues and on matters that will be discussed at the Economic Summit in Bonn in May.
Minister Valdepenas, as the ASEAN spokesman, welcomed the holding of tire Sixth Dialogue as an opportunity for both the United States arid ASEAN to restate their common objectives, to review issues of mutual concern and to evolve workable approaches and solutions to questions of mutual interest. He conveyed his hope that the Dialogue would further strengthen the close and special partnership between ASEAN and the United States particularly in the areas of trade, investment and development cooperation. He expressed the serious concern of ASEAN over a resurgence of protectionism in the industrialized countries. He stressed that in launching the new round of the Multilateral Trade Negotiations, the highest priority should be given to the improvement of the developing countries access to the markets of the developed countries.
Both sides noted with satisfaction the progress of the ASEAN – U.S. Dialogue as evidenced by the record levels of trade and investment flows between the two regions and by the meeting’s focus on these most important issues It was agreed that the Dialogue provides an appropriate forum for discussion of remaining trade related problems. There was reference to the excellent experience with cooperative projects’ and programmes in many fields of public and private endeavour and to the mutual intention of seeking new approaches to activities of mutual benefit to both sides.
During the opening session, the ASEAN and U.S. delegations reviewed the progress of the Dialogues. Both sides agreed that this has been a productive process and that future Dialogues could be further improved by more frequent intern consultations.
International Economic Issues
There was a wide-ranging discussion of the issues facing the world economy. Particular reference was made to the importance of a strong and open IJ.S. economy in order to maintain the prosperity and the growth of the world trading system, including the ASEAN area. The United States welcomed the continuing vigorous growth of the ASEAN economies, noting that the leading role of their private sectors was a major impetus to their high growth rate.
The ASEAN side reassured the U.S. side that the ASEAN states have always taken a positive attitude in searching for a healthy international political and economic environment. However, the ASEAN delegations expressed concern over market access for the exports of ASEAN, declining commodity prices, and the persistent problem of debt. There was a consensus that ASEAN and the United States could address these in the spirit of mutual cooperation.
Under Secretary Wallis outlined what are to be the mail, issues of the Economic Summit in Bonn in May and asked about ASEAN concerns on these issues. He said that the AS EAN memorandum on the Summit would prove useful in preparations; since it 1-ias been sent to all Summit participants, it would undoubtedly serve to focus discussion in Bonn on its contents.
International Trade Issues
The U.S. delegation was chaired by Doral Cooper, Assistant U.S. Trade Representative, for this agenda item. She described the major elements of the U.S. Trade and Tariff Act of 1984, which included the extension of the U.S. Generalized System of Preferences until 1993. While expressing gratification at the new U.S. GSP authority, ASEAN’s representatives called attention to various parts of the new act which could have unsettling effects upon their countries’ trade and development efforts. in particular, they referred to anti-dumping and countervailing duty laws, possible U.S. retaliation against foreign trade barriers, and the uncertainty surrounding new conditions attached to GSP eligibility.
The U.S. delegation noted that most of the provisions that ASEAN would leave found objectionable were removed from the Act before its passage and that the United States would administer the act in an equitable and transparent manner. It was agreed that consultations between the U.S. Government and the Economic Coordination Committee of the ASEAN Washington Committee would facilitate understanding of the Act’s technical provisions and of their repercussions on ASEAN – U.S. trade.
Both sides noted their continued strong support for the GATT and its important role in expanding the world trading system through tariff reductions and removal of other trade barriers. They welcomed a new round of multilateral trade negotiations at air appropriate, early date and agreed on the need to fulfill the commitments of the Tokyo Round and the 1982 GATT work programme. ASEAN emphasized the continued need for special and differential treatment for developing countries in future GATT negotiations, while the United States stressed the need to move more toward reciprocal negotiations on both goods and services. Recent developments with respect to the GATT Subsidies Code and the Procurement Code were reviewed.
With regard to textiles, the ASEAN side asked for a modification of U.S. actions which tend to affect small and medium suppliers. The U.S. delegation pointed to the growth of textile and apparel exports from ASEAN to United States to S 1.4 billion in 1984, an increase of 74% over 1983, as the best indication of the openness of the U.S. market. With respect to problems with category classification, noted by ASEAN, the U.S. side said they will tend to disappear as the U.S. implements the programme of tariff harmonization. The ASEAN governments singled out the amount of time and resources they expended in defending themselves against the recent countervailing duty petitions, but noted that the cases were resolved in an amicable manner. The U.S. side noted the accession to the GATT subsidies code of some of the ASEAN countries. While acknowledging the rapid growth of textile and garment exports from ASEAN to the United States, the ASEAN representatives noted their still small share of the total U.S. textile market, the strict quotas now being enforced against many of their apparel products, and pending U.S. legislation which would establish global quotas.
ASEAN looked to the renegotiation of the MFA by 1986 to achieve improved access by developing country suppliers, particularly by small or medium scale exporters as well as new entrants, to all advanced country markets. in response, the U.S. delegation expressed its appreciation for the ASEAN views and noted that other suppliers have similar views.
The ASEAN governments expressed particular interest in U.S. policies with respect to key commodities, such as tin, sugar and rubber, from which some ASEAN countries earn an important share of their export earnings.
ASEAN expressed support for the Tropical Timber Agreement. noting two members had already signed, and asked what the United States intended to do. The U.S. side said it was currently studying the agreement and hoped to make a decision on U.S. entry within a short time (i.e., a few more weeks). ASEAN indicated interest in an international natural rubber agreement and noted the U.S. concern that the existing agreement be fully implemented in order to proceed with renegotiation now scheduled to begin in Geneva on April 22nd. In keeping with the U.S. – ASEAN Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) concerning disposals of surplus tin from the US . National Defense Stockpile, anticipated disposal levels for calendar year 1985 and world market conditions were discussed. Both sides recognized that the MOU is a continuing document and remains in effect. The ASEAN side expressed the strong hope that tin disposals could be kept within the level described in the MOU and stressed the view that there be no market disruption from these disposals. The U.S. side reaffirmed that the spirit underlying the MOU and the consultative process provided therein continue to guide relations between the, United States and the ASEAN countries on this important matter. ASEAN explained its desire to serve as a catalyst for members’ interest in supporting R & D on tin. The U.S. noted that its private sector has the primary role in R & D but the U.S. Government would be happy to act as a catalyst or channel of communication. The U.S. mentioned the interest of the National Science Foundation in basic research; applied research is clearly a private sector responsibility, but the U.S. Government will facilitate contacts where appropriate.
The U.S. delegation pointed to the importance of intellectual property protection to increased trade and investment. It noted recent and proposed U.S. legislation in the area of copyrights, patents, and trademarks. Noting that industrial production of all kinds is shifting to the developing world, the U.S. delegation emphasized that the protection of intellectual property takes on more importance to such economies. The ASEAN delegation described measures their governments were taking to ensure effective protection of intellectual property rights.
Briefings were also provided by USG experts on several other trade issues raised by ASEAN. These topics included U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulations and the Buy America Act. ASEAN expressed concern at the potential for using health measures as protectionist devices.
ASEAN expressed its concern on some shipping issues, particularly on freight rate negotiations and controlled carrier legislation. Both issues have remained unresolved for a long time and adversely affect the harmonious trade relations between ASEAN countries and the United States. The U.S. side replied that the U.S. administration is still exploring ways in which ASEAN shipping could be exempted from current laws, but there appears to be little likelihood of legislative change. In the meantime, there are unilateral measures which governments can take to change the coverage of the Controlled Carrier Act.
It was noted that the book value U.S. investment in ASEAN had doubled from 1979 to 1983, reaching S 7.9 billion at the end of that year- The U.S. delegation stressed the basically favourable and cooperative climate for foreign investment in ASEAN countries, of which the growth of U.S. investment was a major indicator. There was discussion of some of the factors that may discourage the investors and ASEAN stated that cognizant of the need for a healthy climate for investment, its member have taken measures to improve general business conditions by exerting continued efforts at simplifying government regulations as well as improving the structure of investment. ASEAN welcomed the strides made in the field of investment cooperation between ASEAN and the U.S. but realizing the vast resources of the U.S., stressed the need for vigorous cooperation in order to realize the industrial development goals and objectives of ASEAN. In this regard, ASEAN suggested a number of promotional activities for U.S. consideration.
The U.S. expressed interest in the various ASEAN industrial schemes which have been established and suggested further discussion on how the U.S. private sector can best be informed of investment opportunities. The U.S. so stressed the importance of investment agreements and national treatment provisions therein in attracting U.S. investment.
Detailed discussion of on-going and new cooperative projects took place in a separate Working Group on April 2, under the joint chairmanship of Mr. David N. Merrill, Director, office of East Asian Affairs of the U.S. Agency for International Development and Mr. Romualdo A. Ong, Director General of ASEAN – Philippines. The Working Group provided an opportunity for detailed review of on-going ASEAN – U.S. development projects in several fields.
ASEAN introduced a number of – new or renewed project proposals. The proposals covered a broad range of topics, including a study of folk art in ASEAN countries, studies on drug problems, additional support for the Agricultural Development Planning Center, the extension of the PLANTI project, and a study of teacher education institutions. Over the next several months U.S Government agencies will work with appropriate ASEAN committees to review each of the proposals. Special determinations will then be made concerning project details and Lending possibilities.
The Working Group approved in principle projects in the fields of energy, public health, agriculture , human resource development, narcotics control, research, and small and medium business support. The United States agreed to ASEAN proposals in the area of Culture and information, specifically some COCI projects to undertake comparative studies in folk arts and indigenous architecture in ASEAN countries, and in this regard to establish contact between the relevant ASEAN body and the Smithsonian Institution. The U.S. delegation further agreed to examine areas of assistance and cooperation in the field of Urban Redevelopment and Conservation of Historic Sites. U.S. assistance commitments by AID to ASEAN under the regional Cooperative Development Programme now total $23.8 million, in addition to substantial amounts of bilateral and multilateral aid, and many cooperative ventures with ASEAN.
ASEAN welcomed the U.S. announcement that AID expects to approve a marine sciences project and a third energy project within the next two to three months in response to ASEAN requests made at the Fifth ASEAN – U.S. Dialogue.
ASEAN – U.S. Business Council
Regular participation by the business communities in the Dialogues received the blessing of the Fifth Dialogue in Manila in December 1983. Thus both sides welcomed the special presentation made by Mr. William E. Tucker, Chairman of the U.S. Section on behalf of the ASEAN – U.S. Business Council (AUSBC). ASEAN and U.S. Government representatives were also briefed on the new U.S. ASCAN Center for Technology Exchange, which inter alia will assist in gaining access to capital markets. The Center was especially welcomed by both delegations as being responsive to ASEA-N’s request for assistance to the small business sector. The AUSBC representatives also briefed the delegates on the business community’s concerns about laws which distort investment and the failure of many governments to provide national treatment to foreign investors. Both sides agreed to study carefully the proposals and suggestions in the various fields raised during this discussions with the aim of strengthening ASEAN – U.S. economic cooperation.
ASEAN also expressed its concern about the establishment of separate international satellite systems for trans-oceanic traffic by u. s. companies. While taking note of the ASEAN concerns, the U.S. reiterated its support for. INTELSAT arid assured the ASEAN side that any separate system approved for specialized traffic Would be consistent with U.S. obligations to INTELSAT; in this process, it will consult with other members of INTELSAT.
The delegations agreed that the next Dialogue shall take place in the ASEAN region at a time to be mutually determined.
A press conference by the co-chairmen will be held following the Plenary adjournment on April 3.