Thailand and the United States are intensifying their cooperation and working together to promote development in the ASEAN region. Both countries have emphasized the importance of regional integration, and the United States has reaffirmed its support for ASEAN centrality in the evolving ASEAN-led regional architecture in Asia and the Pacific.
During his visit to Washington, D.C., on 11-14 June 2012 to attend the fourth Thai-US Strategic Dialogue and to Los Angeles on 15-16 June to launch the issuing of Thai identity cards to Thai citizens residing abroad, Foreign Minister Surapong Tovichakchaikul met US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and discussed with her bilateral, regional, and global issues.
In a joint statement issued by the United States and Thailand on this occasion, the two governments underscored their continued support for increased cooperation in regional frameworks, which, apart from ASEAN, include the Lower Mekong Initiative, the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum, and the East Asia Summit. During the Strategic Dialogue, the Thai delegation briefed the US delegation on the ASEAN Connectivity initiative and key positive developments in the region, including progress in achieving the ASEAN Community by the year 2015. The United States emphasized its continued support for the ASEAN Community-building process.
In 2011, US-Thai bilateral trade increased by 13 percent and reached 35 billion US dollars. During this same period, US exports to Thailand increased by 22 percent to 10.9 billion dollars. The stock of US foreign direct investment in Thailand was 12.7 billion dollars in 2010. The two governments recognized the importance of strengthening bilateral trade and investment and their positive contribution to their respective economies.
Regarding ASEAN connectivity, the Vice Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr. Jullapong Nonsrichai, meanwhile, explained that the concept of ASEAN connectivity was first proposed in 2009 at the 15th ASEAN Summit in Thailand. Later, the Master Plan on Connectivity, laying the plans for physical, institutional, and people-to-people connectivity, was adopted by ASEAN leaders at the 17th Summit in Viet Nam. Since then, there has been tremendous interest in connectivity projects in ASEAN.
At the Workshop on Cross-Border Management, held recently in Bangkok, Mr. Jullapong stressed the need to ensure that cross-border management in ASEAN would be ready to face the challenges of increased mobility in the coming years. He said that enhanced mobility of goods, people, and services would help improve economic productivity and the livelihood of those at the border and along the routes, which will eventually contribute to a more equitable ASEAN.