Leaders Meet as US Lags Behind China in Economic Support for Southeast Asia

KABUL (BNA) Experts say this week’s meeting will put pressure on Washington to align with China’s economic development support for Southeast Asia, a region of 680 million people.

Analysts say Southeast Asian nations want to avoid becoming overly dependent on Chinese trade and investment. But they say the region has received relatively little help from the United States. The prospect of more US economic support could be the basis for a special US-ASEAN meeting scheduled for Thursday and Friday.

The leaders of the ASEAN-Southeast Asian bloc will meet at the summit on Thursday with US Trade Representatives, US Trade Representative Catherine Thai, and Commerce Secretary Gina Raymondo. Discuss economic cooperation “in line with the agenda, reported VOA.

Foreign trade and direct investment represent the income of the tens of millions of people living in poverty in Southeast Asia.

China has been ASEAN’s largest trading partner since 2008, with a trading volume of about $ 731.9 billion by 2020, the Chinese government-controlled news website Global Times reported.

US goods and services trade with ASEAN reached about $362.2 billion in 2020, according to the US Office of the Commercial Representative.

ASEAN 2020-2021 Investment Report shows that the United States with $34.7 billion is the main source of foreign direct investment in 2020 and above China with $12 billion.

But Southeast Asian countries such as Cambodia and Malaysia are benefiting from the $ 4 trillion China Belt and Road Project, a nine-year development strategy that builds infrastructure across Eurasia to help open trade routes.

The United States lacks a global Belt-and-Road equivalent, though it launched a program in 2020 to help the five Mekong River ASEAN states ease rainfall droughts and provide COVID-19 relief.

Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines and Vietnam differ on the South China Sea routes with Beijing, which claims 90% of the resource-rich waterway and has military superiority over other countries. The United States supports the Philippines and Vietnam in resisting China’s expansion at sea.

Southeast Asian factories depend on Chinese companies as a source of raw materials, while consumers look to China for cheap goods daily.

The US Securities and Exchange Commission has now considered 80 Chinese companies for possible removal from US stock markets, the main source of capital.

White House spokesman Jen Saki told reporters last week that Biden would meet with ASEAN leaders on Friday to “recognize ASEAN’s central role in providing sustainable solutions to the region’s most pressing challenges.”


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