U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) Ron Kirk was in Cambodia and Vietnam last week to attend meetings
of Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) economic ministers; the inaugural U.S.-ASEAN
Business Summit; a meeting with Cambodian Economic Minister Cham Prasidh; and meetings with
Vietnamese President Truong Tan Sang, Deputy Prime Minister Vu Van Ninh and other senior Vietnamese
Cambodia hosted the ASEAN meetings, following which Kirk stressed the Obama administration’s
commitment to furthering strong trade and investment relationships between the United States and
the ASEAN region.
“The United States’ commitment to the ASEAN region is long-term,” Kirk said. “The ASEAN
countries together are already a major trading partner for the United States, but we — and the
American business community — see enormous potential to grow our mutual trade and investment as
ASEAN pursues its own objectives of liberalizing trade in the region, harnessing the digital
economy and reducing economic disparities among its members.”
After meeting with Cham, Kirk announced that the United States and Cambodia would explore
the possibility of entering into a bilateral investment treaty that would provide investors with
enhanced market access, various protections from harmful government treatment and a binding
arbitration mechanism in cases of breaches of the treaty.
“A bilateral investment treaty between the United States and Cambodia would encourage
investment by improving investment climates, promoting market-based economic reforms, and
strengthening the rule of law,” Kirk said. “Our decision to explore this possibility highlights
progress made by Cambodia in fostering a policy environment that treats private investment in an
open, transparent, and non-discriminatory way.”
Kirk then met with government officials in Vietnam to discuss the U.S.-Vietnamese bilateral
trade and investment relationship; issues concerning the Trans-Pacific Partnership regional trade
agreement that is being negotiated among the United States, Vietnam and seven other countries
around the Pacific Rim; and goals for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum taking place this
week in Vladivostok, Russia.
“The bilateral relationship between the United States and Vietnam has grown rapidly into a
robust and mutually beneficial one. We have the opportunity to further this relationship
significantly by quickly resolving concerns such as the further opening of Vietnam’s market to U.S.
beef and other bilateral issues, and more broadly by working together to rapidly conclude the
Trans-Pacific Partnership,” Kirk said. “Now is the time to make the decisions necessary to bring
the TPP to fruition as a high-standard, 21st-century agreement that will benefit all partners. I am
pleased that Vietnam shares our eagerness to make progress at this month’s round of talks.”
The 14th round of TPP negotiations will be held September 6-15 in Leesburg, Virginia.
September 4, 2012