(4 Nov 2019) The United States Commerce Secretary and a raft of other American officials are showcasing the country’s commitment of businesses to Asia with a gathering on the sidelines of a regional summit that President Donald Trump opted to skip.
Wilbur Ross told about 1,000 people at the privately led, government-supported Indo-Pacific Business Forum on Monday in Thailand that the Trump administration is “extremely engaged and fully committed to this region.”
On Sunday, Thailand announced a rough agreement on plans for reaching a deal on a 16-nation trade pact, dubbed the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, that does not include the US but does include Japan, China and India.
Charles Freeman, senior vice president for Asia for the US Chamber of Commerce said that “sustained engagement in the Indo-Pacific is more about substance than symbolism.”
Ross has joined US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer in negotiating with Beijing on the dispute.
Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping agreed last month to put further tariff increases on hold after saying the two sides had a basic agreement.
But so far, no deal has materialized and the cancellation of a Pacific Rim summit that had been planned for later this month in Chile means Xi and Trump have no immediate plans to meet.
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