Deputy Assistant Secretary for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Patrick Murphy briefed reporters on the working lunch Tillerson held with his counterparts on May 4, saying the ASEAN countries raised the subject of economics and trade.
“And they heard from the Secretary that ASEAN is quite important for the United States when it comes to economic engagement and that the United States intends to build a way forward, grow our economic relations, and that the ASEAN countries can expect to see more trade and economic and commercial engagement in the very near future,” Murphy said.
Murphy added that “To the extent that we have issues to address like trade imbalances, that we’ll be talking about it, and we want to hear ASEAN views on how to improve this so that all can – all can benefit.”
A State Department readout of the meeting added that Tillerson and his counterparts “discussed economic partnership through U.S.-ASEAN Connect, the Trade and Investment Framework Arrangement, and the ASEAN Connectivity through Trade and Investment program.”
The 10 ASEAN member states are Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Vietnam, Malaysia, Laos, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore and Thailand.