The United States and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations will sign a deal later this week to boost trade and investment, said Asean on Monday.
The Trade and Investment Framework Arrangement will be signed by US trade representative Susan Schwab and official trade ministers from the 10 Asean members, during talks in Malaysia on August 24, Asean Secretary-General Ong Keng Yong told the Associated Press.
Yong said the pact will be a â€œflexible arrangementâ€ and not an â€œagreementâ€ so it therefore does not require not require approval from US Congress. The US had previously imposed sanctions on Myanmar, which have now been lifted. The trade pact was suggested by US officials in July this year in an attempt to engage the US in the region.
â€œMany people in Washington want to jam US ties with Asean because of Myanmarâ€, Yong said. â€œAs far as Asean is concerned, this is to our advantage. The loaf may not be as big as we wanted but itâ€™s still a loaf of bread. It will provide incentives for us to move forward, he said.â€
The US had been previously unwilling to forge ties with Asean. Myanmar had delayed the pact between US and Asean as it had failed to follow through on its promises to reinstate democracy and liberate political prisoners, including Nobel Peace laureate Aung San Suu Kyi.
Aseanâ€™s number one trading partner is the US. Its member countries include; Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.