Combined action is being planned by Southeast Asian countries to head off any attempt by the United States to put new areas for trade regulation on to the agenda of the World Trade Organisation summit meeting in Singapore in December. Foreign ministers of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, meeting in Jakarta yesterday, said they would work towards a successful conclusion of negotiations on basic telecommunications and maritime services - both of which have been bogged down - but would oppose any attempt to include issues which were not related to trade. Individual Asean ministers have sniped at US suggestions that issues such as labour conditions, environment, corruption and investment rules should be subject to WTO scrutiny. They are now preparing a broadside ahead of the Singapore meeting. Foreign ministers attending the 29th Asean ministerial meeting said the opposition towards expanding the scope of the WTO would be co-ordinated more fully at the next economic ministers' meeting, in Jakarta in September. Thailand's foreign minister, Amnuay Virivan, said yesterday the economic ministers would work out a very strong common position. 'We don't think these are issues for negotiation,' he said. Proposals to bring investment into the WTO framework are also being officially opposed by Asean. In their closing communique, the ministers said they were opposed to the inclusion of the Multilateral Agreement on Investment (MAI), as it now stood, on the Singapore agenda. The MAI is designed to equalise investment opportunities in domestic markets, something which developing countries fear will lead to a loss of control over key areas of financial policy, as well as mass takeovers of industries and services which are not yet mature enough to weather overseas competition. During the meeting Ali Alatas, Indonesia's minister for foreign affairs, said close investment co-operation would be required within Asean in the face of moves by 'certain developed countries to forge a multilateral investment agreement which appeared to downgrade the interests of recipient developing countries'. The Asean ministers also put out a call for continued efforts to reduce the tariffs and other impediments to trade and investment within Asean, and pointed out that trade in products and services whose duties had been lowered under plans to cut tariffs soared from US$49 billion to US$59 billion last year.