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Sunday, 16 June 2013

US favours Indo-Pacific corridor linking India, BD, Southeast Asia

US favours Indo-Pacific corridor linking India, BD, Southeast Asia

The United States has called for creation of an Indo-Pacific corridor linking India, Bangladesh and Southeast Asia for greater trade and cooperation in the region and for a long-term multilateral and bilateral partnership.
The corridor is to spur economic development, regional growth and prosperity through closer economic cooperation, increased trade and investment, and better energy, transit and communications links, a senior US official told a meeting of the Asia Society Global Forum in Washington DC Wednesday, according to a statement issued by the US State Department.

"No discussion of engagement in the Asia-Pacific region would be complete without a reference to the Indo-Pacific Economic Corridor," the statement quoted US Under Secretary for Economic Growth, Energy, and Environment Robert D. Hormats as saying at the meeting.

He, however, said efforts to improve bilateral relations made by the governments of India and Bangladesh through landmark high-level visits in 2010 and 2011 set the examples of how the region is moving ahead, the statement made available to the FE further added.

Despite trade among the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) countries remaining far below its potential, the regional economic cooperation has enhanced the economic prosperity of Bangladesh, Myanmar and India through enhanced economic engagement with other Southeast Asian neighbours, said the under secretary.

"As everyone in this (meeting) room knows, we live today in a world where economic vitality in many sectors of the U.S. economy depends increasingly on the ability of U.S. firms to tap opportunities in the growing Asia-Pacific region," said Dr Hormats.

The markets in this region provide the US with unprecedented opportunities for investment and trade, as well as a growing demand for cutting-edge US technology, he continued.

The US continues to support strengthening institutions of the Asia-Pacific region and continues to engage in trade and investment multilaterally through the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), he added.

"The TPP is the highest trade priority of the US, as it offers a high-quality platform for deepening regional economic integration - not only by lowering tariffs, but also by addressing the 21st-century trade and investment issues," said the under secretary.

In addition, the US has made strides in its bilateral relationships in the region - particularly in its relationships with China, South Korea, and Myanmar - and sees great potential and new opportunities in connecting India to Southeast Asia.

"The U.S. government looks forward to forging closer multilateral and bilateral partnerships with the Asia-Pacific region not just this year, or the next, but in the long term as well," said Mr Hormats.

Strong US trade and investment ties with the dynamic Asia-Pacific region will continue to be critical for our economic recovery and our long-term economic strength, he added.

"And only by committing ourselves in the long term to the Asia-Pacific region we will be able to promote successfully the economic prosperity of the United States and the world as a whole.

"The development of trade and transit links between South, Southeast, and East Asia have been hampered for decades by poor regional infrastructure connectivity and the isolation of Myanmar," he continued.

However, he maintained recent political and economic reforms in Myanmar, especially after the visit of former Secretary of State Rodham Clinton in late 2011 and the subsequent visit of President Thein Sein to the US in May generated new opportunities to promote U.S. business interests and regional economic development.

"Following the targeted easing in 2012 of economic sanctions, in consultation with Congress, we are supporting U.S. businesses as they apply their high standards in bringing responsible investment to Myanmar," said Mr Hormats.

The US also seeks to support reform by leveraging the talents and resources of its private sector to enhance economic development and extend the benefits of economic reform to all of the people of the country, he said.

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