Over 150 business representatives from the United States and the ASEAN region came together yesterday in direct dialogue with ASEAN Economic Ministers and the U.S. Trade Representative to share their recommendation for promoting economic growth and innovation. The first ever ASEAN-U.S. Business Summit was held on the sidelines of the annual meeting of ASEAN’s top economic officials.
“We are pleased to be here today to underline the ASEAN-U.S. relationship,” said His Excellency Cham Prasidh, Cambodian Minister of Commerce and ASEAN Economic Ministers Chair in his opening remarks. “And we are pleased to be talking about the digital economy as it will no doubt enhance the competitiveness of this region.”
Businesses and government officials exchanged views on doing business in the digitized world and how ASEAN can help business of all sizes take advantage of innovations such as cloud computing, innovations in the food industry, and the use of technology to enhance business competitiveness and trade. Major U.S. companies such as Coca-Cola, Proctor & Gamble, HP, Google and Goldman Sachs attended to share policy insights and network with businesses from all over the ASEAN region.
U.S. Ambassador to ASEAN, David L. Carden joined Cambodia’s Commerce Minister and Secretary General of ASEAN, Dr. Surin Pitsuwan, to open the event on behalf of U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk, who was delayed in travel and arrived in Siem Reap mid-morning. “The United States is eager to discuss how we can engage with ASEAN to create an attractive digital business environment, said Ambassador Carden. “And together, we will continue to support more and better jobs, higher standards of living, and greater prosperity for people in the United States and ASEAN.”
Secretary-General Pitsuwan added, “We have talking about holding an ASEAN-U.S. Business Summit for a long time and we are finally here. We are here talking about contributing to growth on both sides.”
The U.S.-ASEAN Business Council, ASEAN Business Advisory Council, Export-Import Bank of the United States, the U.S. Commercial Service and the World Bank held a session to examine programs and opportunities for business-to-business linkages and trade facilitation. Dr Peter Lovelock of Technology Research Project Corporate in Singapore provided an overview of cloud computing and its long-term implications for the ASEAN business environment.
Businesses discussed the rapid adoption of technology and relevant regulatory frameworks in ASEAN, gains in efficiency and competitiveness achieved through innovations such as the digitization of operations and transport of goods to market, the importance of helping smaller businesses access the digital frontier, and the importance of innovation in helping to develop and ensure stability of ASEAN’s domestic food industries.
At the close of the summit businesses shared the results of the day’s discussions directly with the ASEAN Economic Ministers and the U.S. Trade Representative, who had met earlier in the day to discuss advancement of the ASEAN-U.S. Trade and Investment Framework arrangement
The ASEAN-U.S. Business Summit was organized by the Cambodia Ministry of Commerce, the U.S. Trade Representative’s office, and the U.S. Government-funded ASEAN-U.S. Technical Assistance and Training Facility.