Foreign Ministers, and country representatives, left to right, Laos Minister of Foreign Affairs, Saleumxay Kommasith, unidentified official, Myanmar’s Union Minister for International Cooperation, U Kyaw Tin, Philippines Secretary of Foreign Affairs, Alan Peter Cayetano, Vietnam’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Pham Binh Minh, Singapore’s Minister for Foreign Affairs, Dr. Vivian Balakrishnan, Thailand’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Don Pramudwinai, unidentified official, Cambodia’s Senior Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Prak Sokhonn, Indonesia’s Coordinating Minister for Security, Wiranto, Indonesia’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Retno Marsudi, and ASEAN Secretary-General, Lim Jock Hoi, pose for a group photo during the 17th ASEAN Political-Security Community Council Meeting on Friday, April 27, 2018, in Singapore. AP Photo/Wong Maye-E
SINGAPORE (AP) — Southeast Asian countries will work more closely with new powers China and India to counter the pressure of protectionism and ensure continued growth, Singapore prime minister said Saturday.
Addressing the summit of the 10-nation Association of Southeast Asian Nations, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said that regional economic growth was under threat because the political mood in many countries had turned against free trade. He said recent trade tensions between the U.S. and China in particular are worrying.
The U.S. and China are entangled in their most consequential trade dispute since World War II. Both countries have proposed tariffs of $50 billion on each other’s products; President Donald Trump is looking to impose tariffs of up to $100 billion more on Chinese goods.
“The global strategic balance is shifting, and so is the regional balance,” Lee said. “New powers, including China and India, are growing in strength and influence. This has opened up new opportunities for ASEAN member states as we expand our cooperation with them.”
He said that the group faces challenges closer to home as well, such as the Islamic State group, cybersecurity and strengthening a regional economic community.
ASEAN leaders are expected to discuss free trade, Myanmar’s refugee crisis and the historic summit between North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and South Korea’s President Moon Jae-in on Friday.
In addition to Singapore, the ASEAN members are Myanmar, Cambodia, Laos, Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia, Vietnam, Brunei and the Philippines. / Associated Press – April 28, 2018 – 1:12pm /