Both sides released a joint vision statement on the Asean-US enhanced partnership ahead of Fridays meeting between seven Southeast Asian leaders and US president George W Bush at a regional summit here.
The statement said Asean and the United States had agreed to launch a partnership covering cooperation in the political, security, economic, social and development fields.
On the economic front, the two parties agreed to work together to conclude a region-wide Asean-United States trade and investment framework agreement, said the statement.
A Southeast Asian trade official attending the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) forum here said the statement could lay the groundwork for a US-Asean free trade pact.
The US is playing catch up, said the trade official, asking to remain anonymous, pointing out that Asean is already in talks for a region-wide free trade agreement with China and Japan to be completed by 2010.