Congressman Joaquin Castro (Photo: castro.house.gov)
 
Washington D.C (VNA) – US congressman Joaquin Castro from Texas and congresswoman Ann Wagner from Missouri have jointly formed a congressional caucus devoted to issues related to Southeast Asia, aiming to strengthen relations between the US and ASEAN.

According to the website “Insidertrade.com”, the caucus will focus on important matters to the security and economic interest of the US in the relationship with Southeast Asian countries.

In their speeches, the two congresspersons highlighted that the 10 ASEAN member countries represent the world’s seventh largest economy and the third biggest labour force.

“The Congress must recognise the need for enhanced dialogue with our Southeast Asian peers,” they said, expressing hope that the congressional caucus on Southeast Asia will help increase the US administration and congress’ attention toward ASEAN.

The US-ASEAN Business Council (USABC) has voiced support for the establishment of the caucus. USABC President and CEOAlexander Feldman noted that ASEAN is the fourth largest export market of the US, and nearly 400,000 American jobs depend on trade with ASEAN.

After decades of promoting trade liberalisation, ASEAN on a per capita basis currently buys almost twice as many American-made exports as China and over nine times as much as India, he said.

The importance of this market will only grow in the decades to comes, as 65 percent of ASEAN’s 640 million people are under 35 – making it not only one of the world’s fastest growing markets but the youngest of the world’s top 10 largest economies, he added.-VNA