Indeed, as reflected by this summit, U.S.-ASEAN relations have never been stronger. With nearly half the Earth’s population, one-third of global GDP, some of the world’s most capable militaries and some of the earth’s most critical ecosystems, the Asia Pacific region is increasingly the world’s political and economic center of gravity. Which is why President Obama, from the very beginning, has prioritized engagement with Asia, recognizing that this region is central to U.S. interests in the 21st century.
This was the impetus behind our Rebalance strategy, which aims to forge a network of partners throughout Asia who work together to build and sustain a rules-based regional order. And, ASEAN, of course, is at the heart of Asia. This 10-state union -- founded on common principles, like respect for international law, free trade, and peaceful resolution of disputes -- is a natural partner for the United States, and from day one has been a core focus of the rebalance.
Our ties with Asia have expanded dramatically over the last seven years. In 2009, we signed the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation. We joined the East Asia Summit. We became the first ASEAN Dialogue partner to establish a dedicated, diplomatic mission, and appoint a resident ambassador to the ASEAN Secretariat in Jakarta. And in 2013, we created the Young Southeast Asian Leaders Initiative, YSEALI, which now has over 60,000 vibrant members.
Our economic ties are also booming. We have a quarter-trillion-dollar trade relationship with ASEAN, up 55 percent since 2009. The ASEAN region is now the fourth-largest goods export market for the United States. Trade with ASEAN countries supports more than 500,000 American jobs. Last year alone, companies from right here in California exported $11 billion in goods to ASEAN. In fact, companies from all 50 of our states engage in trade with ASEAN. U.S. companies have been the largest investor in ASEAN, with a stock of more than $226 billion nearly doubling since 2008.
ASEAN is also an increasingly important partner in addressing regional and global challenges -- from maritime disputes to climate change, pandemic disease to violent extremism, sustainable development to trafficking in persons -- which is why last year, during the President’s trip to Malaysia, we elevated our partnership with ASEAN to a strategic partnership.
But there is much more we can still do together, and that’s why we’re here. Over the next day and a half, we’ll discuss our shared interest in promoting innovation and entrepreneurship, encouraging peaceful resolution of disputes, and combatting terrorism, pandemic disease, climate change, and trafficking in persons.
We’re quite aware that some of our ASEAN partners have a long way to go on human rights. But the United States will continue, as we do everywhere, to stand up for the rights of all people -- and I emphasized this point last week in my meeting at the White House with civil society representatives from all 10 ASEAN countries. The President, as always, will stress the importance of good governance, the rule of law, human rights, and a vibrant civil society, and capable, accountable institutions.
The unique and informal setting that we have here at Sunnylands will allow leaders to engage in more in-depth and candid discussions than is possible at the usual, more formal summit meetings. So this we look forward to as a rare opportunity for candor and to identify new areas of cooperation that will help ensure peace and prosperity in this critical Asia Pacific region for our children and grandchildren.
Thank you all very much. I’m happy to take a few questions.
Q This is
. With regard to the South China Sea, what is your
expectation of all of the groups agreeing to -- Jeff Mason
Q -- and what is your reaction to, of course, the region that China has been pressuring countries like Cambodia and Laos not to sign on to that?
Q The question was, what is your expectation, Susan, tomorrow about the likelihood of a strong statement from all of ASEAN and the United States with regards to the South China Sea? And what is your reaction to reports from the region about China having put pressure on some members not to sign that?
We also have expressed concerns about efforts to resolve disputes through other means, and we’ll continue to do so. So I’m very confident that, among other topics that we will discuss during the next day and a half, this will be an important one -- by no means the only one. And I’m confident that our shared commitment to upholding these norms will be reinforced.
Q You’ve been working with some of these countries at the summit to try to limit their cooperation with North Korea, militarily, economically. Can you be a little more specific on what you might expect to come out of this on that front? And would you say you're putting pressure on them to do so? Also, what effect do you expect that to have on North Korea?
In New York, we continue to work and see the negotiations on a Security Council resolution, which we expect will contain significant new sanctions, progress. And so we'll be working on this issue, as we have been on multiple fronts simultaneously in the coming days.
Q I'd like to follow up on North Korea. You mentioned your efforts at the U.N. Security Council. It seems that the Chinese still be reticent to have tougher sanctions against North Korea. How can you get support around member states at the Security Council?
So, given that, I expect that they will indeed come onboard with significant new sanctions, and we're working towards that end.
Q Madam Ambassador, may I ask a question on human rights? The President is hosting people like Thammavong of Laos, Hun Sen of Cambodia, Sultan Bolkiah of Brunei, all people that have terrible human rights records. And human rights organizations, including Human Rights Watch, says that this sends a signal that the United States supports and legitimizes these leaders to their people, and that, in fact, the pivot to Asia is about a pivot to governments, rather than to people and civil society. How would you respond to that?
We have stood with the people of Southeast Asia for many years as they seek to build more just, more open, more accountable societies. We've been significant supporters of civil society organizations. YSEALI, the President’s Southeast Asian Leaders Initiative, is about the United States building people-to-people ties with the next generation of the region’s leaders. So just because, in Asia, as elsewhere, we are obliged to deal with governments, including in some cases those with whom we have significant disagreements on things like human rights, does not mean that we're legitimizing them or their behavior, or that we have in any way lessened our commitment to democracy, human rights and civil society.
Q Thanks so much, Eric. Let me go back to the South China Sea and the Sunnylands meeting. I believe the United States and ASEAN countries are preparing Sunnylands principle, which include freedom of navigation and (inaudible), and also no militarization in the South China Sea. So what particular message are you going to deliver in this meeting? And also, has the United States asked ASEAN countries to play a role to sustain peace and security in the South China Sea? What kind of role does the United States expect ASEAN to play?
All right, one more.
Q Just a follow-up question. It’s more relevant to Asia perspective. And frankly, I’m from Cambodia. My question is, why Obama, he decided to host the summit in Sunnylands instead of the White House?