U.S and Laos Expand Economic Ties

Minister of Industry and Commerce of Lao PDR, Mrs Khemmani Pholsena (Center Right) and Assistant United States Trade Representative (AUSTR) for Southeast Asia and the Pacific Ms. Barbara Weisel (Center Left) meet during ASEAN Economic Ministers in Vientiane.

Consultations between the ten ASEAN Economic Ministers (AEM) and the United States Trade Representative were held on 4 August 2016 in Vientiane, Lao PDR. The Consultations were co-chaired by H.E. Mrs Khemmani Pholsena, Minister of Industry and Commerce of Lao PDR and Ms. Barbara Weisel, Assistant United States Trade Representative (AUSTR) for Southeast Asia and the Pacific.  Ms. Weisel was joined U.S. Ambassador to ASEAN Nina Hachigian, U.S. State Department Special Representative for Commercial and Business Affairs Ziad Haider, Deputy USAID Administrator Gloria Steele, senior representatives of the U.S. Commerce Department, and others, forming a broad U.S. interagency team that reflected the importance of the ASEAN region to the United States.

The United States commended the establishment of the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) in 2015 as a major milestone in regional economic integration. The U.S. also welcomed the new AEC Blueprint 2025, which envisages an AEC by 2025 that is highly integrated and cohesive; competitive, innovative and dynamic; with enhanced connectivity and sectoral cooperation; a more resilient, inclusive, and people-oriented, people-centered community; and integrated with the global economy.

The Ministers were pleased with the success of the AEM Roadshow to the U.S., which was held on 17–18 February 2016, back-to-back with the Special U.S.-ASEAN Leaders Summit in Sunnylands, California, United States. Focusing on innovation and entrepreneurship, the Roadshow further strengthened ASEAN-U.S. connections and generated increased awareness of the presence ASEAN as a region and vital trading partner of the United States

The ASEAN Ministers noted the progress of implementation of U.S.-ASEAN Connect as the new strategic framework for coordination of the extensive U.S. economic engagement with the ASEAN region to deepen and strengthen the economic relationship, as well as the progress of the implementation of the U.S.-ASEAN Trade Workshops, announced by President Obama during the Special U.S.-ASEAN Summit.