Obama expected to push for closer ties with ASEAN during visit

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ObamaUS President Barack Obama’s visit to Asia, which includes Japan, South Korea, Malaysia and the Philippines, at the end of April is expected to focus on a number of bilateral and regional issues. US principal deputy assistant secretary of state for Asia-Pacific at the Department of State, Scot Marciel, said: “Some of the issues that will likely come up for discussion between President Obama and the Malaysian side will include business ties, the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and bilateral trade.”

The former US ambassador to Indonesia spoke to Malaysia’s official news agency Bernama about Obama’s much-awaited visit to Malaysia on the sidelines of a conference on April 14 on “Managing Risk in ASEAN: Opportunities and Challenges”, jointly hosted by the US-ASEAN Business Council and the American-Indonesian Chamber of Commerce at New York’s Yale Club.

This will be the first official visit by a US president to Malaysia since former President Lyndon Johnson’s visit in 1966.

At the conference, Marciel gave an overview of the situation in Southeast Asia, highlighting both opportunities and challenges in the ASEAN region.

Marciel said: “China’s slowdown opens up opportunities for the ASEAN countries in terms of investment and trade. ASEAN is a very important region, and we support the AEC [ASEAN Economic Community in 2015].”

He also made a strong pitch for the TPP – Malaysia is one of the ASEAN members being urged to join this group – and described it as an “engine of growth”.

“This [TPP] will be important for the region’s growth and prosperity,” he said.

Meanwhile, some experts on ASEAN said that Obama will give his support to Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak’s Global Movement of Moderates (GMM) which the latter had passionately presented during his speech at the United Nations’ General Assembly in September 2013.

Indeed, some of President Obama’s advisors would like to see a strategic relationship evolve between the two countries, similar to the one which Washington has with Singapore and Thailand. US diplomats also expect the Malaysian side to discuss intensifying defense ties with the US. Malaysia’s significance, as US business and industry agree, is growing in terms of its size and regional importance.

Besides being an influential member of the ASEAN and the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, Malaysia is perceived to be a moderate Islamic multi-cultural country.

“The key word is moderation. Malaysia could make an attractive partner if it is able to maintain its moderate stand in all spheres,” one American businessman, who attended the conference, said. Experts believe that both sides would probably announce the formation of various high-level working groups to address and develop specific political, economic, security and socio-cultural issues.

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Reading Time: 2 minutes

US President Barack Obama’s visit to Asia, which includes Japan, South Korea, Malaysia and the Philippines, at the end of April is expected to focus on a number of bilateral and regional issues. US principal deputy assistant secretary of state for Asia-Pacific at the Department of State, Scot Marciel, said: “Some of the issues that will likely come up for discussion between President Obama and the Malaysian side will include business ties, the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and bilateral trade.”

Reading Time: 2 minutes

ObamaUS President Barack Obama’s visit to Asia, which includes Japan, South Korea, Malaysia and the Philippines, at the end of April is expected to focus on a number of bilateral and regional issues. US principal deputy assistant secretary of state for Asia-Pacific at the Department of State, Scot Marciel, said: “Some of the issues that will likely come up for discussion between President Obama and the Malaysian side will include business ties, the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and bilateral trade.”

The former US ambassador to Indonesia spoke to Malaysia’s official news agency Bernama about Obama’s much-awaited visit to Malaysia on the sidelines of a conference on April 14 on “Managing Risk in ASEAN: Opportunities and Challenges”, jointly hosted by the US-ASEAN Business Council and the American-Indonesian Chamber of Commerce at New York’s Yale Club.

This will be the first official visit by a US president to Malaysia since former President Lyndon Johnson’s visit in 1966.

At the conference, Marciel gave an overview of the situation in Southeast Asia, highlighting both opportunities and challenges in the ASEAN region.

Marciel said: “China’s slowdown opens up opportunities for the ASEAN countries in terms of investment and trade. ASEAN is a very important region, and we support the AEC [ASEAN Economic Community in 2015].”

He also made a strong pitch for the TPP – Malaysia is one of the ASEAN members being urged to join this group – and described it as an “engine of growth”.

“This [TPP] will be important for the region’s growth and prosperity,” he said.

Meanwhile, some experts on ASEAN said that Obama will give his support to Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak’s Global Movement of Moderates (GMM) which the latter had passionately presented during his speech at the United Nations’ General Assembly in September 2013.

Indeed, some of President Obama’s advisors would like to see a strategic relationship evolve between the two countries, similar to the one which Washington has with Singapore and Thailand. US diplomats also expect the Malaysian side to discuss intensifying defense ties with the US. Malaysia’s significance, as US business and industry agree, is growing in terms of its size and regional importance.

Besides being an influential member of the ASEAN and the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, Malaysia is perceived to be a moderate Islamic multi-cultural country.

“The key word is moderation. Malaysia could make an attractive partner if it is able to maintain its moderate stand in all spheres,” one American businessman, who attended the conference, said. Experts believe that both sides would probably announce the formation of various high-level working groups to address and develop specific political, economic, security and socio-cultural issues.

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