Four important developments in Asia from this week and one key event to keep an eye out for next week.
1. This week, the fourth strategic dialogue between Thailand and the United States took place in Washington, DC, attended by US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Thailand’s foreign minister Surapong Tovichakchaikul. The United States affirmed its commitment to ASEAN centrality in the region, and both countries agreed to begin a working group to facilitate the next strategic dialogue, to be hosted by Thailand in 2013. Earlier in the week, the United States requested use of the Utapao military airport for Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief operations and possible climate studies by NASA.
2. Cambodian deputy prime minister and foreign minister Hor Namhong indicated in a talk at CSIS that the South China Sea issue may not be on the agenda for the upcoming East Asia Summit later this year. In April, Cambodia also initially left the contentious issue off of the agenda of an ASEAN summit in Phnom Penh because it was allegedly afraid of angering China. The decision was later reversed. You can hear the minister’s remarks here.
3. Standard & Poor warned Monday that India could have its investment rating downgraded to junk status. While there is debate as to how this will impact emerging market economies as a whole, the consequences for India could be severe, increasing overseas borrowing costs.
4. Substantiated rumors circulated that Canada and Mexico will join the Trans-Pacific Partnership as early as next week. Separately, the US Chamber of Commerce, a powerful business lobby, announced that it would back Canada’s bid on Tuesday.
5. The United States, Japan, and South Korea will conduct the first trilateral military exercise in the waters south of the Korean Peninsula next week on June 21 and 22. This is the first time Japan’s Maritime Self-Defense Force will actively participate in joint exercises with South Korea and the United States. China raised concerns over the drill, which will take place outside of any country’s territorial waters.