JOINT PRESS STATEMENT
1. The ASEAN Economic Ministers (AEM) and the United States Trade Representative held consultations on 5 April 2002 in Bangkok, Thailand. The consultations were co-chaired by H.E. Mr. Vu Khoan, Minister of Trade of Viet Nam and Ambassador Robert B. Zoellick, the United States Trade Representative.
2. The Ministers agreed to adopt an ambitious work program designed to expand further the close trade and investment relationship between ASEAN and the United States. The work program covers a wide range of areas, including trade and investment, agriculture, human resource development and capacity building, intellectual property rights, product standards, information and communication technology, customs, small and medium-sized enterprises, biotechnology and other related issues. The Ministers tasked senior officials of ASEAN and the United States to formulate a specific work programme for each area of cooperation with specific timelines for implementation and submit them for endorsement at the next AEM- USTR consultations.
3. The Ministers held productive discussions on a wide range of regional and global trade issues. They discussed the global economic downturn in 2001 that had severely affected the ASEAN economies and were optimistic that the expected US-led recovery in 2002 will return the ASEAN economies to their recovery path.
4. Recognizing that open markets are critical to continued growth and development, the Ministers reviewed their cooperative efforts that culminated in the successful launch of global trade negotiations in Doha last November. The Ministers welcomed the Doha Development Agenda’s greater emphasis on meeting the needs of least developed and developing countries, including, for assistance and capacity building to help their effective participation in the WTO. They also affirmed their support for rapid progress toward completion of the Doha Development Agenda and agreed to work towards that end. In addition, they expressed their commitment to assist Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam in their early accessions to the WTO.
5. The Ministers stressed the economic and social benefits from regional and bilateral trade and investment liberalization, including through the ASEAN Free Trade Area and US negotiations with its trading partners. They agreed that FTAs should be consistent with WTO provisions.
6. The Ministers noted the proposal by the US-ASEAN Business Council for a US-ASEAN FTA. The Ministers asked the Senior Officials to discuss with the US-ASEAN Business Council on the proposal and report back to the next meeting of the AEM-USTR.
7. Noting that this AEM-USTR meeting was the first formal session after a long hiatus, the Ministers agreed on the importance of regular meetings. They also recognized the need for cooperative mechanisms that would include input from the private sector to create additional business opportunities. They plan to evaluate the progress achieved under the work programme at their next meeting.
LIST OF MINISTERS
The Meeting was attended by:
(i) H.E. Pehin Dato Abdul Rahman Taib, Minister of Industry and Primary Resources, Brunei Darussalam;
(ii) H.E. Mr. Cham Prasidh, Minister of Commerce, Cambodia;
(iii) H.E. Ms. Rini M.S. Soewandi, Minister of Industry and Trade, Indonesia;
(iv) H.E. Mr.Soulivong Daravong, Minister of Industry and Handicrafts, Lao PDR;
(v) H.E. Dato’ Syed Norulzaman bin Syed Kamarulzaman, Ambassador of Malaysia to the Kingdom of Thailand;
(vi) H.E. Mr. U Myo Myint, Ambassador of Myanmar to the Kingdom of Thailand
(vii) H.E. Mr. Manuel Roxas II, Secretary of Trade and Industry, the Philippines;
(viii) H.E. Brigadier General (NS) George Yeo, Minister for Trade and Industry, Singapore;
(ix) H.E. Mr. Adisai Bodharamik , Minister of Commerce, Thailand;
(x) Ambassador Robert B. Zoellick , United States Trade Representative;
(xi) H.E. Mr. Vu Khoan, Minister of Trade, Viet Nam; and
(xii) H.E. Mr. Tran Duc Minh, Deputy Secretary-General of ASEAN.