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Policy & History
March 31, 2022


Originally established on August 8, 1967, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) is now comprised of ten member states (Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam).

At the 12th ASEAN Summit in January 2007, the Leaders affirmed their strong commitment to accelerate the establishment of an ASEAN Community and signed the Cebu Declaration on the Acceleration of the Establishment of an ASEAN Community by 2015. The establishment of ASEAN Community is a historic milestone and a culmination of ASEAN’s resilience and dynamism throughout a journey of nearly half a century, and signals to the world how far and how well the ASEAN Member States have achieved in coming together as one community. The ASEAN Community is comprised of three pillars, namely the ASEAN Political-Security CommunityASEAN Economic Community and ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community.

With the slogan of “One Vision. One Identity. One Community”, the ASEAN Community ascertains that the goal of ASEAN’s founding fathers of improving the lives of its people is reflected on the region’s economic and cultural development, social progress, regional peace and security, collaboration, mutual assistance in training and research, improvement of living standards, promotion of Southeast Asian studies and cooperation with regional and international organizations.

ASEAN LogoOrganizational Structure

Though ASEAN has many different working groups to coordinate efforts across numerous sectors and programs, an ASEAN Secretariat is located in Jakarta, Indonesia. The Secretariat (ASEC) provides logistical and support services to ASEAN working groups, representative bodies, and other ASEAN entities.

With the signing of the ASEAN Charter, ASEAN Member-States established Permanent Missions to ASEAN in Jakarta. Each Mission is headed by an Ambassador to ASEAN. These Ambassadors serve on the Council of Permanent Representatives (CPR) and are charged with local decision-making duties and coordinating with their respective governments.

For more ASEAN history, please visit ASEAN Secretariat website.

History of the U.S. & ASEAN Relations

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 economic integrationmaritime cooperationemerging leadersopportunity for women, and transnational challenges.

VP Pence visit to ASEAN Secretariat in 2017

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.