Yudhoyono : ASEAN-US economic, trade ties to increase

Yudhoyono : ASEAN-US economic, trade ties to increase

President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono. (FOTO. ANTARA)

Jakarta (ANTARA News) - President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono is convinced that ASEAN will have increasingly closer economic and trade relations with the US, citing wide business opportunities between the two entities.

The President made the remarks when he acted as a keynote speaker at an Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) meeting here on Wednesday afternoon.

"I appreciate President Obama`s policy to establish closer ties with ASEAN member states. We welcome the US participation in the East Asia Summit," he said.

Yudhoyono said the US was the world`s biggest foreign investor.

"The US foreign direct investment more than tripled to US$3.5 trillion in 2009 from US$920 billion in 2000. However, 70 percent of the investment is concentrated in developed nations that have high income," he said.

In line with the global economic developments, Yudhoyono said US businessmen should pay more attention to investment in the Southeast Asian region.

"Four or five decades ago the Southeast Asian region came apart because of wars, conflicts, rifts and distrust, But today the Southeast Asian region is peaceful. Cooperation and welfare are spreading throughout the region," he said.

Therefore, the President said he was optimistic that Southeast Asia would become the main destination of US investment in the future.

"The Southeast Asian region has a total population of 550 million and combined gross domestic product of US$1.9 trillion. The number of middle class people is growing. The region is rich in natural resources," he said.

The President said two-way trade between ASEAN and the US last year reached US$181 billion, or 39,6 percent of the total trade between the US and China.

Indonesia, with a population of 240 million, last year saw its trade with the US increase to US$23.6 billion, he said.

ASEAN (the Association of Southeast Asian Nations) groups Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.(*)