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Asean still major job market for US

Publication Date : 31-07-2012


Although Southeast Asian markets do not have high trade figures with the United States, compared to countries like China and India, ASEAN remains a major job market for US companies, particularly opportunities in Brunei, the US envoy said.

His Excellency Daniel Shields, the US ambassador to Brunei, said that through the US-Asean Business Council, American companies that are part of the body have been "very active" in reaching out to Brunei.

"So I remain confident, that US companies will continue to reach out to Brunei, as well as the Southeast Asia region as a whole," Ambassador Shields said in an interview published by The Oil & Gas Year (TOGY) Brunei 2012.

The ambassador said: "Asean is comprised of different countries, so country-by-country figures don't jump out in the same way that numbers for China (or India) do."

Hence, the American government is urging companies to view Southeast Asia through the lens of Asean, so that they see the area as one large market, particularly with Asean's goal of establishing an Asean-wide economy by 2015.

In terms of skills and expertise, Shields said US companies, particularly in the energy sector, can apply their knowledge and skills garnered, when in Brunei and companies in the region.

"There are already US energy companies operating in the country, such as Murphy Oil and Halliburton, which provide heavy support for energy-related services. We are encouraging more US energy firms and other US coimpanies to get involved in Brunei as there is considerable potential," he said.

Official relations between the US and Brunei date back to the 1800s, and the ambassador said that the US-Brunei relationships is developing quickly.

"One of the most important areas of this relationship is education exchange. Traditionally, there have been few such exchanges, but we are working hard to try and increase the numbers as part of a broader US effort to increase its exchange with Asean in terms of education," he said.

Another important factor about Brunei, is the country's location, which is in the middle of Southeast Asia along critical sea lines and other lines of communication.

"Brunei's location, which is nestled between the Pacific and Indian oceans, makes the relationship between the US and Brunei critical in terms of ensuring the continued security and prosperity regionally and globally," he said.

In 2013, when Brunei becomes the Asean chair, Brunei can expect a steady stream of US diplomatic visitors because of the Asean Summit and East Asian Summit. With the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), Shields said that the negotiations are underway at the moment and good progress is being made. "We are hoping that things can be pushed along ahead of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) meetings, and member countries are committed to the principles of free trade and spreading them throughout the Asia-Pacific region," he said.


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