U.S. Engagement with ASEAN
The United States began engaging with ASEAN as a dialogue partner in 1977, and has cooperated with ASEAN ever since. Starting in the early 1990s, development cooperation increased dramatically through the launch of economic programs focusing on trade and investment, technology transfer, and education.
Southeast Asia is one of the fastest-growing, most dynamic regions in the world. The region succeeds because its countries work together. The United States will remain a strong, reliable, and active partner in the region and is investing diplomatic, public diplomacy, military, and assistance resources in a way that is commensurate with the U.S. comprehensive engagement. The United States continue to emphasize economic development, energy cooperation, people-to-people exchanges, youth, and education.
The United States was the very first non-ASEAN country to name an Ambassador to ASEAN in 2008. In June 2010, the United States became the first non-ASEAN country to establish a dedicated Mission to ASEAN in Jakarta and in 2011 the first resident Ambassador to ASEAN was appointed. On November 3, 2014, Ambassador Nina Hachigian assumed her duties after presenting her credentials to ASEAN Secretary General Le Luong Minh.
The United States Mission to ASEAN partners with ASEAN and related stakeholders to advance U.S. interests in a peaceful, prosperous, and integrated Southeast Asia that respects the rule of law, upholds the dignity of its people and actively addresses regional and global concerns.
The partnership of the United States and ASEAN focuses on five areas including supporting economic integration, expanding maritime cooperation, cultivating ASEAN emerging leaders, promoting opportunity for ASEAN women, and addressing transnational challenges.
The U.S. and ASEAN have redoubled their cooperation on many issues. Political and security discussions have focused on the role of the United States in maintaining peace and stability in the region, the South China Sea disputes and the threat of terrorism. Economic engagement has seen the successful establishment of the Trade and Investment Framework Agreement. U.S.-ASEAN development cooperation has also focused on capacity building efforts in technology, education, disaster management, food security, human rights, and trade facilitation.
In 2016, U.S.-ASEAN Connect (“Connect”), a new U.S. Government’s strategic framework for economic engagement with ASEAN and the member states was launched. Organized around four pillars – Business Connect, Energy Connect, Innovation Connect, and Policy Connect – the initiative provides strategic focus to ongoing and future U.S. economic activities in the region. U.S.-ASEAN Connect brings together all the resources and expertise of the U.S. government and private sector to create a whole-of-U.S. approach to economic engagement in the region. It reflects both the U.S. government and U.S. private sector’s desire to support ASEAN’s continued integration, including the success of the ASEAN Economic Community, and increased U.S.-ASEAN trade and investment.
In 2017, the United States and ASEAN have worked toward stability, prosperity, and peace in Southeast Asia for 40 years.