WASHINGTON DC – The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) had helped to keep the peace in Southeast Asia and lowered travel and trade barriers in the region, US Secretary of State John Kerry said on Friday.
â€œSoutheast Asia is one of the fastest-growing, most dynamic regions in the world. The region succeeds because its countries work together,” he said in a press statement in conjunction with Asean’s 48th anniversary on Saturday.
On Friday night, the 10 nations in ASEAN comprising Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam held a celebration at the Malaysian Embassy in Washington DC.
East Asian and Pacific Affairs Bureau Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary Scott Marciel was among 300 guests that included diplomats and a delegation of Indonesian members of parliament who were on official visit to the US.
The guests were entertained with cultural performances representing each ASEAN member state and feted to ASEAN traditional cuisines prepared by chefs from the 10 nations.
ASEAN WAS established on August 8, 1964.
Kerry noted that, “ASEAN is the hub of the larger Asia-Pacific region, hosting leaders from the Indian Ocean to the Pacific to address the most complex and challenging issues of the day.
“This work is vital to the region, to the United States, and to the world,” he said.
The Secretary of State said the US under President Barack Obama would continue to support ASEAN and the establishment of the ASEAN Economic Community this year.
Meanwhile, Malaysian Ambassador to the United States Datuk Dr Awang Adek Hussin described ASEAN-US relations as “at a higher level of strategic partnership”.
He acknowledged that the ASEAN Economic Community coupled with its population of 630 million is among the fastest growing economic regions in the world.
“At this rate, the region is projected by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development to become the fourth largest economy in the world by 2050,â€ he said.
Awang Adek said a recent report concluded that the greater ASEAN integration and the creation of the ASEAN Economic Community could drive regional GDP growth to a much higher rate of 6-8 percent a year.
“Foreign direct investment into ASEAN will also grow strongly, especially from the United States, Europe, Japan and China, as companies look to expand production bases in the region,” he added.