ASEAN leaders summit kicks off in Thailand, Trump skips

Asean Summit Kicks Off In Thailand, Trump Skips

The 35th summit of the leaders of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) kicked off in Bangkok on November 3 with multilateralism and connectivity taking the center stage as Thailand holds the rotating chair of the ASEAN for 2019.

The summit is an event for high-level talks between the ten ASEAN member states but also regional and world leaders on trade and security matters. Thailand’s Prime Minister Prayut Chan-ocha invited leaders of the UK, France, Germany and the US as the chair’s guests at the summit, all of which but one, US President Donald Trump, have confirmed their attendance.

The entire ASEAN summit started on October 31 with related conferences and runs until November 4.

The White House announced that US national security adviser Robert O’Brien and commerce secretary Wilbur Ross will represent Trump at two regional summits in Thailand, a move widely viewed in the region as a snub.

The decision to send O’Brien, who is a presidential adviser and not a member of Trump’s Cabinet, is likely to be viewed in Southeast Asia as sign of a lack of engagement in the region at a time when China’s influence and investments are quickly growing.

The decision comes after Thailand and the US faced an altercation after Thailand announced a ban on the herbicide glyphosate produced by controversial US agrochemical firm Monsanto. The US, apparently in retaliation, scrapped preferential trade privileges on a range of Thai exports including seafood. The suspicions were highlighted on Thai nationalist accounts on social media and left the government flabbergasted.

Thailand, however, will hold talks with US officials on the sidelines of the ASEAN leaders summit, Prayut said.

Meanwhile, addressing the opening ceremony of the summit on November 3, Prayut noted that in order to create a prosperous and sustainable region, “we should continue to work to conclude negations on RCEP [the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership] within this year to stimulate economic growth, as well as trade and investment.”

The countries negotiating the pact include ASEAN nations and six of its dialogue partners, namely China, Japan, South Korea, Australia, New Zealand and India. It does not include the US. If all join, it will be one of the biggest regional trading blocs, covering some 45 per cent of the world’s population and about a third of global GDP, with projected trade of more than $10.3 trillion, almost 30 per cent of the world total.

The Thai prime minister also called for continued support for the multilateral trade system under the purview of the World Trade Organisation, as well as regional and sub-regional economic cooperation frameworks as to enhance the economic resilience of ASEAN and the region.

ASEAN and the world today were “facing increased challenges including those to global economic growth and multilateralism,” and close partnership and friendship “will be crucial to enabling the region to tackle and overcome these challenges,” Prayut said.

It is the last ASEAN conference this year. Thailand’s chairmanship of ASEAN ends on December 31 and will be handed over to Vietnam for 2020.

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The 35th summit of the leaders of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) kicked off in Bangkok on November 3 with multilateralism and connectivity taking the center stage as Thailand holds the rotating chair of the ASEAN for 2019. The summit is an event for high-level talks between the ten ASEAN member states but also regional and world leaders on trade and security matters. Thailand’s Prime Minister Prayut Chan-ocha invited leaders of the UK, France, Germany and the US as the chair's guests at the summit, all of which but one, US President Donald Trump, have confirmed their attendance....

Asean Summit Kicks Off In Thailand, Trump Skips

The 35th summit of the leaders of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) kicked off in Bangkok on November 3 with multilateralism and connectivity taking the center stage as Thailand holds the rotating chair of the ASEAN for 2019.

The summit is an event for high-level talks between the ten ASEAN member states but also regional and world leaders on trade and security matters. Thailand’s Prime Minister Prayut Chan-ocha invited leaders of the UK, France, Germany and the US as the chair’s guests at the summit, all of which but one, US President Donald Trump, have confirmed their attendance.

The entire ASEAN summit started on October 31 with related conferences and runs until November 4.

The White House announced that US national security adviser Robert O’Brien and commerce secretary Wilbur Ross will represent Trump at two regional summits in Thailand, a move widely viewed in the region as a snub.

The decision to send O’Brien, who is a presidential adviser and not a member of Trump’s Cabinet, is likely to be viewed in Southeast Asia as sign of a lack of engagement in the region at a time when China’s influence and investments are quickly growing.

The decision comes after Thailand and the US faced an altercation after Thailand announced a ban on the herbicide glyphosate produced by controversial US agrochemical firm Monsanto. The US, apparently in retaliation, scrapped preferential trade privileges on a range of Thai exports including seafood. The suspicions were highlighted on Thai nationalist accounts on social media and left the government flabbergasted.

Thailand, however, will hold talks with US officials on the sidelines of the ASEAN leaders summit, Prayut said.

Meanwhile, addressing the opening ceremony of the summit on November 3, Prayut noted that in order to create a prosperous and sustainable region, “we should continue to work to conclude negations on RCEP [the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership] within this year to stimulate economic growth, as well as trade and investment.”

The countries negotiating the pact include ASEAN nations and six of its dialogue partners, namely China, Japan, South Korea, Australia, New Zealand and India. It does not include the US. If all join, it will be one of the biggest regional trading blocs, covering some 45 per cent of the world’s population and about a third of global GDP, with projected trade of more than $10.3 trillion, almost 30 per cent of the world total.

The Thai prime minister also called for continued support for the multilateral trade system under the purview of the World Trade Organisation, as well as regional and sub-regional economic cooperation frameworks as to enhance the economic resilience of ASEAN and the region.

ASEAN and the world today were “facing increased challenges including those to global economic growth and multilateralism,” and close partnership and friendship “will be crucial to enabling the region to tackle and overcome these challenges,” Prayut said.

It is the last ASEAN conference this year. Thailand’s chairmanship of ASEAN ends on December 31 and will be handed over to Vietnam for 2020.

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