ASEAN, US FTA unlikely

Singapore, July 24:

A free trade agreement (FTA) between Southeast Asian nations and the US appears unlikely although ties remain solid, a top regional official said in remarks published today.

In contrast, a free-trade agreement between the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN) and China is well on track, and talks with the European Union have gotten off the ground, ASEAN secretary general Ong Keng Yong was quoted as saying in The Straits Times.

Efforts by US president George W Bush to reach a pact with ASEAN were dealt a setback earlier this month when the administration failed to persuade Congress to renew the president’s ‘fast-track’ trade promotion authority.

ASEAN and the US signed a Trade Investment Framework Agreement last August, a precursor to liberalising trade. “It can sustain us for a long time to come,” The Straits Times quoted Ong as telling US executives.