U.S. President Barack Obama has scheduled a summit later this month with leaders from Southeast Asia, a region that is the fourth-biggest market for American goods and one that Obama has targeted for increased trade.
The meeting will take place Sept. 24 in New York, the administration announced.
Association of Southeast Asian Nations leaders will meet with Obama while he is in New York for the annual United Nations General Assembly. Obama last met with Asean leaders in Singapore in November 2009, the first U.S. leader to do so.
The U.S. faced criticism for skipping a meeting of Asean trade ministers in Vietnam last month as Asian leaders waited for more details about the planned summit with Obama. Obama is seeking closer ties to Asean nations to counter China’s growing clout in the region.
China’s total trade with Asean surpassed that of the U.S. in the past decade, growing to $178 billion last year. China’s share of Southeast Asia’s total commerce has increased to 11.6 percent from 4 percent in that time, while the U.S. portion fell to 9.7 percent from 15 percent, Asean statistics show.
Asean comprises Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.