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RI proposes ASEAN caucus in US Congress

  • The Jakarta Post

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta | Mon, June 2, 2014 | 09:53 am

Indonesia proposed the establishment of an ASEAN caucus in the US Congress during a meeting held by the ASEAN Committee in Washington DC on May 28, said a statement released by the Indonesian Embassy in Washington on Sunday.

'€œOnly 26 percent of Congress members pay close attention to ASEAN although our region has huge potential for the US economy,'€ said Indonesian Ambassador to the US, Budibowo Leksono, as quoted by Antara.

'€œCongress members have an important role in increasing US and ASEAN strategic partnerships, especially in 2015 when the ASEAN Community is established,'€ he said.

He further said ASEAN was the US'€™ fourth-largest trading partner after Canada, Mexico and China and that the US was the third-largest trading partner for ASEAN, creating around 560,000 jobs for Americans.

'€œUS investments in ASEAN countries are greater than their investments in China, India, Hong Kong, New Zealand, South Korea and Taiwan combined,'€ Budibowo said.

'€œMore interesting is, within one decade, the amount of investment from ASEAN member countries in the US rose by more than 1,440 percent to US$27.5 billion in 2012 from $1.8 billion in 2001. The amount was bigger than the investments of China, Hong Kong, India, New Zealand and Taiwan combined in the country,'€ he went on.

Additionally, the ambassador noted that around 47,000 students from ASEAN countries were studying in the US during the 2012-2013 academic year, contributing more than $1.4 billion to the country'€™s economy.

Indonesia has been appointed to chair the ASEAN Committee for the period of May-August. Ambassadors of 10 ASEAN member countries attended the committee'€™s inaugural meeting in Washington, which was followed by a meeting with a number of US officials, including assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific affairs, Daniel Russel, former US ambassador to Indonesia Scot Marciel and National Security Council director for Southeast Asian affairs, Colin Willett. (ebf)