The United States and ASEAN: An Enduring Partnership

With a population of 650 million, average GDP growth of five percent nearing $3 trillion, and a young, tech-savvy demographic, the ten ASEAN countries make up one of the world’s most dynamic ‎regions.  Over the past 42 years, the United States and ASEAN have worked together to promote peace, stability, and prosperity.  The U.S.-ASEAN relationship began in 1977 and was elevated to a strategic partnership in 2015.  We see strong convergence between the principles enshrined in ASEAN’s Indo-Pacific Outlook—inclusivity, openness, a region based on rule of law, good governance, and respect for international law—and the vision of the United States for a free and open Indo-Pacific, as well as the regional approaches of our allies, partners, and friends.

Strong U.S. and ASEAN Economic Ties

ASEAN’s dynamic economies and high growth rates make it a key market for U.S. exports and investment.

  • ASEAN is the number one U.S. investment destination in the Indo-Pacific. S. investment (cumulatively $329 billion) is larger than U.S. FDI in China, Japan, Republic of Korea, and India combined.
  • ASEAN is the 4th largest export market for U.S. goods. S. exports to ASEAN support an estimated 500,000 jobs.  The United States is ASEAN’s 4th largest trading partner.
  • The ASEAN Single Window (ASW) Initiative, developed with U.S. technical assistance in 2008, has helped ASEAN reduce the cost of doing business and streamline trade in goods. USAID has provided assistance to upgrade technical software and reform laws for the ASW, allowing for easier exchange of customs information between ASEAN countries and the United States.
  • The U.S. Infrastructure Transaction and Assistance Network (ITAN) promotes high-quality and financially sustainable infrastructure in the Indo-Pacific to help ASEAN’s infrastructure investment needs. The ITAN provides technical assistance to the Philippines, helps Vietnam implement its Power Development Plan and attract private sector investment, and partners with Indonesia’s state electric company to help modernize power grids and diversify energy sources.
  • The ITAN Transaction Advisory Fund, announced in July 2018, will provide legal advisory services and technical assistance to ASEAN countries to assess potential infrastructure projects. Specific projects will be announced by the end of 2019.
  • The Overseas Private Investment Corporation is prioritizing projects in Indonesia, Philippines, Vietnam, Thailand, and Myanmar. Current projects include a $10 million effort in Myanmar to connect lenders with agricultural suppliers, and a $160 million initiative to develop a wind farm in Indonesia.

U.S.-ASEAN Smart Cities Partnership (USASCP) – Investing in the Innovative

Smart Cities – cities using data-driven technology to innovate and manage city resources – are a key to sustainable development in both the United States and ASEAN.

  • The inaugural USASCP event was held in Washington, D.C. in July with representatives of the 26 pilot cities in the ASEAN Smart Cities Network exchanging views with public and private sector smart city experts and exploring U.S. commercial solutions to smart city challenges. The initial U.S. commitment to this partnership is $10 million.

Building Capacity in the ASEAN Digital World

ASEAN’s digital economy is a key driver of regional economic growth, but the region still faces connectivity and cybersecurity challenges that U.S. expertise is helping to address.

  • Building on the Digital Connectivity and Cybersecurity Partnership (DCCP) and the 2018 U.S.-ASEAN Leaders’ Statement on Cybersecurity Cooperation, the United States is planning the first S.-ASEAN Cyber Policy Dialogue during the Singapore International Cyber Week from October 1-3.
  • As part of the DCCP, USTDA has supported a range of information and communications technology activities across the region, including funding for a technical assistance grant to help the Philippines implement its National Broadband Network Project. The assistance will help refine technical and operational design plans to provide broadband access to underserved markets throughout the Philippines.
  • The S.–Singapore Third Country Training Program , USASEAN Connect, and DCCP aim to bridge development gaps in the region, training officials from all 10 ASEAN countries and Timor-Leste on digital connectivity, cybersecurity, and emerging technologies. This year, the United States supported capacity development on best practices in national cyber policy formation, by improving incident response capabilities and cybersecurity awareness and developing a cyber-workforce.
  • S.-ASEAN Connect’s Digital Economy Series connects ASEAN policymakers and leading U.S. technology companies to share best practices in the digital sector, and by helping to facilitate an open and innovative digital space.

Partners in Energy Security

Southeast Asia’s energy demand is projected to increase by more than two-thirds by 2040.  U.S. support is critical to meeting the needs of these growing markets and technological advances.

  • The S.-ASEAN Energy Cooperation Work Plan supports ASEAN’s regional energy ambitions and objectives, including advancement of regional markets for electricity and natural gas, deployment of advanced and clean energy technologies, and the promotion of energy efficiency.
  • Under the Clean Power Asia Program, the United States seeks to mobilize $750 million in clean energy investments over a five-year period by training select ASEAN governments to run reverse auctions for renewable energy tenders, a tool that uses competition to lower costs and deploy renewable capacity.
  • The U.S.-initiated Asia EDGE (Enhancing Development and Growth through Energy) will support the ASEAN Council on Petroleum on best practices for cross-border pipeline management and natural gas quality standardization, a key to ASEAN energy integration.

Maritime Assistance for ASEAN Security

A strong, capable ASEAN at the heart of the Indo-Pacific region is critical to advancing a regional architecture that supports democratic governance and resolves disputes peacefully, through international law.

  • The United States trains Coast Guards and other stakeholders through the Southeast Asia Maritime Lane Enforcement Initiative (formally the Gulf of Thailand initiative) to improve inoperability and information sharing.
  • Security assistance programs, such as Foreign Military Financing, International Military Education and Training and the Maritime Security Initiative, support the professionalization of individual ASEAN countries’ militaries and enhance their maritime security and maritime domain awareness.
  • In September, the United States and Thailand will co-host the inaugural ASEAN-U.S. Maritime Exercise. This exercise will build capacity in maritime domain awareness, information sharing, and sea interdiction.

Promoting Youth Leadership through People-to-People Ties

65% of ASEAN’s population is under the age of 35.  Mobilizing young and emerging leaders to take ownership of the ASEAN community will ensure continued peace and prosperity.

  • ASEAN visitors add $5 billion to the U.S. economy annually.
  • ASEAN students contribute more than $2 billion to the U.S. economy annually.
  • The U.S. Young Southeast Asian Leaders Initiative (YSEALI) has trained nearly 5000 emerging leaders since 2013. More than 142,000 young people aged 18-35 have become YSEALI virtual members.
  • The YSEALI Seeds for the Future small grants competition has dedicated more than $1.6 million since 2015 in seed funding for community improvement projects.
  • Nearly 60,000 students from ASEAN countries study in the United States annually.
  • Since 2017, the Fulbright ASEAN Research Program for U.S. Scholars has awarded 14 scholarships to conduct collaborative U.S.-ASEAN research.

For further information, please visit the U.S. Mission to ASEAN at https://asean.usmission.gov/.

Source: https://www.state.gov/the-united-states-and-asean-an-enduring-partnership/

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