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Updated: October 10, 2009 09:57 IST

Lugar to introduce legislation on free trade with ASEAN

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An influential Republican Senator has announced to introduce a legislation in US Senate next week for free trade agreement negotiations between the United States and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

“The United States should proceed to develop a comprehensive strategy toward engaging ASEAN in serious FTA discussions,” Senator Richard Lugar, Ranking Member, Senate Foreign Relations Committee said.

“While this endeavour will be complex and have possible challenges to negotiation given the varying levels of economic development and open markets among ASEAN countries, China, India, Australia, New Zealand and South Korea have already finalised FTAs with ASEAN and are sharpening a competitive edge over the US in Southeast Asia,” Mr. Lugar said.

“Ongoing trade restrictions with Burma should not deter US efforts to reach an FTA with the rest of ASEAN. President Obama’s possible meeting with ASEAN leaders while in Singapore will reflect the significance of the US-ASEAN relationship,” he added.

ASEAN comprises of Brunei, Burma, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam.

In 2006, Senator Lugar introduced legislation establishing the position of US Ambassador to ASEAN.

Former President George Bush appointed Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Scot Marciel as the US Ambassador to ASEAN in 2008.

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