China’s sway in the region is set to expand with a free trade agreement that will be signed Sunday.
The pact, which will cover almost a third of the world economy, includes the ASEAN nations, China, Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand.
India backed out of the plan last year, and the agreement also does not include the United States, despite America’s $2 trillion in trade with the countries in the pact.
In his remarks Saturday, O’Brien touted ASEAN as the fourth-largest trading partner for the U.S., with trade reaching over $354 billion last year.
“The United States has your back and we know you have ours,” O’Brien said.