Deal with South-east Asia on its own merit and seize the opportunities, Vivian Balakrishnan tells US (The Straits Times)

The United States should consider Asean – with its 650 million population, and US$2.8 trillion (S$3.8 trillion) GDP set to double and subsequently quadruple in the next two decades – in its own right, Minister for Foreign Affairs Dr Vivian Balakrishnan said in Washington on Wednesday (Sept 29) after winding up a three-day working visit to the US capital.

That was a key component of the message he put across in meetings in Washington, including with Democratic Senator Bob Menendez, Senate Foreign Relations Committee chairman; and Congressional Singapore Caucus co-chairs, Congressmen Rick Larsen – a Democrat from Washington state – and David Schweikert, a Republican from Arizona.

Earlier, he met with Coordinator for Indo-Pacific Affairs Kurt Campbell, and Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

He noted concern and anxiety over the rise of China, but also an awareness of the consequences of any clash by accident or design.

He pointed out that South-east Asia was worth investing in, in many areas from trade to the digital economy. And he discussed pandemic preparation and secure supply chains.

“As far as South-east Asia is concerned, we recognise the stakes are very high, the dynamics of the US-China relationship has got enormous consequences,” he told the Singapore media.

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The Straits Times

1 October 2021


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