Thai leader: Asia is gaining strategic, economic importance

TOKYO (AP) — Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha said Thursday that a new U.S.-backed economic pact is further proof of how important and relevant Asia is today.

“Asia is still expanding and gaining more influence in terms of strategic and economic importance,” Prayuth said.

U.S. President Joe Biden and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida announced earlier this week during a visit by Biden to Japan that 13 countries have joined the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework, a new trade pact that will help the United States work more closely with Asian economies on issues including supply chains, digital trade, clean energy and anticorruption efforts.

The signatories are Australia, Brunei, India, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, New Zealand, the Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, Thailand, the United States and Vietnam. Together they represent 40% of the world’s GDP.

Prayuth is in Tokyo to attend the “The Future of Asia” organized by Nikkei Inc.

He stressed the need to increase economic growth by keeping markets open and inclusive as the world faces disruptions such as the coronavirus pandemic and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

“Sustainable economic growth is only possible when we are able to adopt to any disruption,” Prayuth said.

Thailand is the host of next year’s Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum summit. Prayuth said APEC is at a critical juncture, with a need to achieve peace and drive economic growth.

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