With the government shut down, the White House announced yesterday that the President’s upcoming trip to Asia, scheduled to begin October 6, will be cut short. Plans to visit Malaysia and the Philippines have been shelved for now, though Obama will still attend the annual Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) meeting of leaders in Bali, Indonesia.
Republicans will undoubtedly accuse Obama of hitting the beach rather than resolving the budget crisis, but the President’s decision to keep his commitment to APEC makes sense. Southeast Asia is increasingly critical to U.S. interests, and Obama has made the region the heart of his government’s “pivot” of forces and diplomatic personnel to Asia. To make good on that goal, Obama should push forward several critical ideas that would help the region become a better market and trading partner, and that would enhance stability in Southeast Asia.
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