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Sunday, October 11, 2009

U.S. Senator Lugar to Push for Free-Trade Agreement With Asean

By Simeon Bennett

Oct. 11 (Bloomberg) -- U.S. Senator Richard Lugar said he plans to introduce legislation aimed at negotiating a free-trade agreement with the Association of South East Asian Nations.

Trade restrictions with Myanmar, an Asean member, should not hinder the U.S. from pursuing a trade deal with the rest of the regional group, the Indiana Republican said in an Oct. 9 statement on his Web site.

The U.S. signed a trade and investment framework with Asean in August 2006, aimed at boosting economic ties with the region and possibly leading to a free-trade deal.

“China, India, Australia, New Zealand and South Korea have already finalized FTAs with Asean and are sharpening a competitive edge over the U.S. in Southeast Asia,” Lugar said. “The United States should proceed to develop a comprehensive strategy toward engaging ASEAN in serious FTA discussions.”

President Barack Obama may meet Asean leaders at an Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation forum in Singapore in November, Lugar said.

Asean includes Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.

To contact the reporter on this story: Simeon Bennett in Singapore at sbennett9@bloomberg.net

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