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Press Release: Deepening Engagement Through Collaboration and Partnership
Celebrating Achievements of the ASEAN-USAID IGNITE, PROSPECT, and API Projects
February 7, 2024



Deepening Engagement Through Collaboration and Partnership: Celebrating Achievements of the ASEAN-USAID IGNITE, PROSPECT, and API Projects


Dr. Steven G. Olive, USAID RDMA Mission Director, H.E. Dr. Kao Kim Hourn, Secretary-General of ASEAN, H.E. Yohannes A. Abraham, U.S. Ambassador to ASEAN, and Ambassador / Permanent Representative of the Republic of Indonesia to ASEAN H.E. M.I. Derry Aman

JAKARTA – February 7, 2024 – Today, the United States government, through the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), celebrated impactful results delivered through ASEAN-U.S. development cooperation programs totaling more than $26 million over the last five years.

More than 100 government officials, policymakers, entrepreneurs, representatives from civil society organizations and the private sector participated to reflect on shared successes of the ASEAN-USAID Inclusive Growth in ASEAN through Innovation, Trade and E-Commerce (IGNITE), Partnership for Regional Optimization within the Political-Security and Socio-Cultural Communities (PROSPECT), and the ASEAN Policy Implementation (API) projects funded by USAID and the U.S. State Department.

Since 2018, ASEAN-USAID IGNITE, PROSPECT, and API projects collaborated with ASEAN and its member states to promote sustainable, rules-based, and inclusive economic growth, expand rights and opportunities for women and youth, build regional policies to tackle shared challenges, and support country-level implementation of endorsed policy initiatives. USAID and ASEAN achieved impact by:

  • Leveraging private sector partnerships with US-based companies such as UL Research Institutes and US-ASEAN Business Council members.
  • Embracing a U.S. whole-of- government approach through coordination with the U.S. Customs and Border Protection, U.S Trade Representative, Department of State’s Bureau of Counterterrorism, Secretary’s Offices of Global Partnerships and Global Women’s Initiatives, U.S Department of Labor, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and the White House Gender Policy Council.
  • Collaborating with dialogue and development partners such as Embassies of Canada, Japan, and Australia, as well as UNWomen, The Habibie Center, The ASEAN Foundation, Chab Dai Cambodia, and Dark Bali Indonesia.

Specifically through the PROSPECT project, USAID and ASEAN:

  • Achieved groundbreaking ASEAN endorsements on the first Gender Mainstreaming Strategic Framework, Regional Plan of Action on Women, Peace and Security, and ASEAN Public Health Emergency Coordination System (APHECS) Framework.
  • Developed capacity-building resources to train more than 220 practitioners across three ASEAN member states on victim-centered approaches to identify and assist victims of trafficking according to regional and national policies, principles, and procedures. in-line with ASEAN Convention Against Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children.
  • Engaged 34 ASEAN sectoral bodies and ASEAN-affiliated entities across over 90 workshops, training initiatives, and conferences, supporting more than 1,400 human rights defenders, and training 200+ youth on community development, social enterprise, media, and peacebuilding.
  • Facilitated multi-stakeholder exchanges leading to the establishment or enhanced implementation of 23 regional laws, policies and resources related to anti-trafficking in persons, natural disaster management, promoting gender equality, civil society engagement.

As a result of the IGNITE project, USAID and ASEAN:

  • Contributed to the expansion of the ASEAN Single Window (ASW), an electronic trade facilitation platform that streamlines customs clearance across all member states, and that has collectively saved ASEAN traders an estimated $6.49 billion[1] on top of multiple days of saved time per transaction — all while improving compliance and transparency.
  • Collaborated with the US-ASEAN Business Council to modernize the ASEAN Small and Medium Enterprise (SME) Academy 2.0, an online learning platform that helps SMEs upgrade their business skills through a Business Continuity and Resilience (BCR) website tab. The BCR Tab features new courses and resources, available in Indonesian, Thai, and Vietnamese to increase accessibility, address SME resilience through digital upskilling to better engage in e-commerce. The Academy offers more than 110 courses and 375 online resources and boasts nearly 6,000 active users–54% of whom are women entrepreneurs.[2]
  • Created the ASEAN Digital Integration Index (ADII), a tool managed by ASEAN countries to systematically measure their progress in achieving a broad set of digital economy milestones laid out in ASEAN’s Digital Integration Framework Action Plan.

By way of the API project, USAID and ASEAN:

  • Collaborated with the Philippines Bureau of Customs to establish trading systems that enhance full visibility connectivity and cross-border cooperation with ASEAN Member States and fulfill ASEAN policy commitments. Efforts include effectively linking the Philippines’ National Single Window to the ASW, as well as developing the ASEAN Customs Declaration Document Management portal, the electronic Certificate of Origin Backup, and Phytosanitary Management systems.
  • Assisted the Ministry of Trade of Indonesia in conducting a regulatory analysis to bolster Indonesia’s preparedness for the ASEAN Digital Economy Framework Agreement (DEFA) negotiations.

​“The success of the ASEAN-USAID PROSPECT, IGNITE, and API projects demonstrates our commitment to an empowered ASEAN and to strengthen our durable partnership based on shared values that make us all more prosperous, more secure, and delivers results for our combined one billion people. As partners, we look forward to continuing to fortify ASEAN’s central role in the region to create a Southeast Asia that is open, connected, and resilient,” said Yohannes A. Abraham, U.S. Mission to ASEAN Ambassador.

In his remarks, Dr. Kao Kim Hourn, Secretary-General of ASEAN, commended the achievements of API, IGNITE and PROSPECT, and looked forward to the implementation of its successor program, in view of the deepening trade and investment ties, including through the effective implementation of the ASEAN-United States Trade and Investment Framework Arrangement (TIFA) and the Expanded Economic Engagement (E3) Work Plan, particularly in the areas of digital trade, energy, as well as science, technology and innovation. He also stressed the significance of furthering collaboration in key emerging areas such as transportation, transnational crime, women empowerment, health, climate, environment, and energy, including through engagement at the ministerial-level.  He further underscored the relevance of advancing human capital development in the region and strengthening people-to-people contacts, including through the expansion of the Young Southeast Asian Leaders Initiative (YSEALI), the United States-ASEAN Fulbright Scholarship Initiative, and the United States–ASEAN Institute for Rising Leaders Fellowship.

For more than four decades, USAID has worked closely with ASEAN and its member states across Southeast Asia. While the ASEAN-USAID PROSPECT, IGNITE, and API projects will phase out, collaboration will continue through a new program, which will be announced later this year.  This support will continue implementation of agreed upon areas of cooperation underscored in the ASEAN-U.S. Comprehensive Strategic Partnership Plan of Action and align with the ASEAN Outlook on the Indo-Pacific. USAID intends to build on 45 years of U.S.-supported development assistance in partnership with ASEAN and its member states.


For further enquiries: contact the USAID/RDMA ASEAN Office at jakartausaidasean@usaid.gov or the ASEAN Secretariat at asecmail@asean.org.

About U.S. Cooperation with ASEAN

The United States partners with ASEAN to expand maritime cooperation, enhance connectivity, cultivate sustainable development, and advance economic integration. Through the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), the United States strengthens ASEAN’s central role to advance shared priorities in trade facilitation, digital economy, science and technology, combatting non-traditional security threats – such as natural disasters and pandemic preparedness, and advancing good governance.  In 2024, the United States and ASEAN member states celebrate 47 years as dialogue partners, marking almost a half century of collaboration to advance shared goals that benefit their combined one billion people. For more information, please visit: https://asean.usmission.gov/usaidasean/


The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) was established on 8 August 1967 and constitutes ten Member States: Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Viet Nam. On 31 December 2015, the ASEAN Community was formally established. The ASEAN Secretariat is based in Jakarta, Indonesia. In pursuance to the ASEAN Charter, ASEAN has developed friendly and mutually beneficial dialogue cooperation and partnerships with countries and sub-regional, regional and international organizations and institutions through ASEAN Plus One modality, including the United States. This modality over the years has served as a bedrock of ASEAN’s leadership in the regional architecture. ASEAN has also intensified constructive dialogue and cooperation with its partners through the ASEAN-led mechanisms, such as the East Asia Summit (EAS), the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF), the ASEAN Plus Three (APT), and the ASEAN Defense Ministers’ Meeting (ADMM)-Plus.

Thanks to the unwavering support from its important partners, including the United States, ASEAN has been progressively realizing the vision of an ASEAN Community where its people are bound in friendship, cooperation, peace & prosperity.  What began as a grouping of five countries in 1967 has today grown into a full-fledged association comprising of ten-member states with a combined population of 672 million and a joint GDP of USD3.6 trillion in 2022, thus making ASEAN the 3rd largest Asian economy, and 5th largest in the world. For more information, please visit: https://asean.org.

[1] 2018-2023

[2]  About the ASEAN SME Academy (asean-sme-academy.org)