Speaking in Singapore on the eve of President Barack Obama's three-day visit to Southeast Asia, Mrs Clinton said the US aimed to combine the 11-country Trans-Pacific Partnership with other regional trade agreements to transform global commerce.

Washington would also use its diplomats at more than 270 embassies and consulates to advocate for firms such as Chevron Corp, Boeing Co and General Motors, she said.

"For the first time in modern history, nations are becoming major global powers without also becoming global military powers," Mrs Clinton said.

"So to maintain our strategic leadership in the region, the United States is strengthening our economic leadership as well. And we know that America's economic strength at home and our leadership around the world are a package deal."

Mr Obama's first foreign trip since his re-election comes in the middle of negotiations with Congress to avoid automatic spending cuts that would shock the economy and reduce defence outlays.

Mrs Clinton sought to reassure leaders in Asia that U.S. lawmakers would reach a deal to "once again prove the resilience of our economic system and reaffirm America's leadership in the world."

Mr Obama arrives in Thailand on Sunday. The next day he will become the first sitting US president to visit Myanmar before joining a series of Asean-organised meetings in Phnom Penh.

Mrs Clinton said the US would encourage other countries to join the TPP talks.

"We continue to consult with Japan, and we are offering to assist with capacity building so that every country in Asean can eventually join," she said. "We welcome the interest of any nation willing to meet the 21st century standards of the TPP -- including China."

Asean is set to start talks on Nov 20 on a trade area rivalling the TPP that combines the bloc's separate agreements already signed with China, Japan, India, South Korea, and Australia and New Zealand.

November 17, 2012

Source: Bangkok Post