U.S. Institutional Support for ASEAN
On November 19 and 20, Secretary Clinton accompanied President Obama to the U.S.-ASEAN Leaders Meeting and East Asia Summit (EAS) in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. Their attendance at these events for the second consecutive year reaffirms U.S. commitment to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and to Southeast Asia as a whole. At EAS and the U.S.-ASEAN Leaders Meeting, the United States highlighted our broad engagement with the region across ASEAN’s political-security, economic, and socio-cultural pillars and introduced initiatives to deepen these ties.
EAS provided an opportunity to highlight the United States’ enduring commitment to supporting ASEAN as it becomes a driver of peace, security, prosperity, and democracy in the region. The United States has demonstrated our institutional support for ASEAN in a number of ways.
- The U.S. Mission to ASEAN: In June 2010, the United States became the first non-ASEAN country to establish a dedicated Mission to ASEAN in Jakarta. Under the leadership of Ambassador David L. Carden, the United States’ first resident Ambassador to ASEAN, the Mission provides a venue for regular engagement and cooperation with ASEAN as well as the most visible symbol of our commitment to ASEAN’s success.
- Support for U.S.-ASEAN Scholarship: Building on more than 60 years of supporting scholar and student exchanges between the United States and countries in the region through the Fulbright Program, recruitment for the pilot U.S.-ASEAN Fulbright initiative started this fall, with the first group of exchange scholars beginning study in early 2013. The United States also supports both U.S. and ASEAN Member States’ scholars working on issues central to the region through symposia held at American University’s ASEAN Studies Center in Washington DC. Our participation in the Brunei-U.S. English Language Enrichment Project for ASEAN reflects a commitment to help unify the diverse members of ASEAN, improve English language capacity, and advance educational and teaching opportunities in the region. This five-year, $25 million initiative is supported by the governments of Brunei and the United States with the East-West Center in Hawaii as an implementing coordinator, and the first cohort of 59 government officials and teacher-trainers traveled to Universiti Brunei Darussalam and East-West Center this fall.
- Institutional Support in Disaster Management: Since mid-2011, the United States has supported a full-time, resident Advisor to the ASEAN Secretariat’s ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) Unit and to broader Disaster Management efforts through the Secretariat and ASEAN Centre for Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (AHA Centre). The Advisor works closely with ASEAN officials and our fellow ASEAN Dialogue Partners to oversee activities such as:
- The installation of a multi-hazard Disaster Monitoring and Response System in the AHA Centre. Along with Japan, the United States is providing the hardware and software AHA Centre operators need to improve response times and use relief resources more efficiently.
- Building the search and rescue capacity of ASEAN Member States and creating guidelines for mobilization of assets for disaster relief across the region.
- Supporting efforts to share best practices in Peacekeeping Operations.
- Promoting Public-Private Dialogue Economic Partnerships: The United States has partnered with ASEAN in private-sector outreach in several areas:
- Secretary Clinton opened the first-ever U.S.-ASEAN Business Forum in July in Siem Reap, which brought government and private actors from across the spectrum together to find ways to further economic engagement and integration.
- The U.S. Trade and Development Agency’s first connectivity event, which brought representatives together from ASEAN governments, seven U.S. Government agencies, and several private businesses. Participants shared expertise in disaster reduction and disaster recovery, and attendees showcased technology which enables more effective disaster preparation and emergency response.
- We have supported the ASEAN Single Window Steering Committee, which incorporates the views of businesses active in the region into the planning for the ASEAN Single Window project, a state-of-the-art regional electronic customs clearance information sharing system, which will help to enable the integration of the broader ASEAN economic community.
- At the U.S.-ASEAN Leaders Meeting, the United States and ASEAN announced agreement to develop an Expanded Economic Engagement (E3) initiative. The U.S.-ASEAN E3 will provide capacity building and technical assistance to ASEAN members as they move toward high-standard trade obligations. The E3 will also prioritize the negotiation of a U.S.-ASEAN Trade Facilitation Agreement, a U.S.-ASEAN Bilateral (Regional) Investment Treaty, and a U.S.-ASEAN Agreement on Information and Communication Technology (ICT).
- We support triennial conferences to encourage private sector engagement with ASEAN’s food security agenda. The U.S.-funded Maximizing Agricultural Revenue through Knowledge, Enterprise Development, and Trade (MARKET) Program is helping to carry these critical private-public partnerships. We will support the Second Annual Dialogue between ASEAN Agriculture Ministers and food industry business leaders in September.
ASEAN Science & Technology Cooperation:
- Recognizing the key role that science, technology, and health expertise play in promoting sustained economic development, at the U.S.-ASEAN Leaders Meeting the United States and ASEAN agreed to launch the U.S.-ASEAN Innovation in Science through Partners in Regional Engagement (INSPIRE) initiative. Through INSPIRE, the United States will enhance our scientific engagement and exchange across these fields with ASEAN, complementing the existing, excellent bilateral cooperation between the United States and ASEAN member states.
- The United States funded an expert to work closely with the ASEAN Secretariat to improve IT operations and prepare a medium-term IT strategy that was presented to the Committee of Permanent Representatives. In early September, the ASEAN Secretariat and United States will jointly launch a new ASEAN Web Portal with a redesign of the front end of the website, the creation of central repository for past, current and future ASEAN documents, and a user-friendly interface with a searchable function.
- U.S.-ASEAN Eminent Persons Group (EPG): President Obama announced the names of the three representatives, Ambassador Charlene Barshefsky (a former U.S. Trade Representative), Muhtar Kent (Chairman and CEO of the Coca-Cola Company), and Ambassador J. Stapleton Roy (former U.S. Ambassador to Singapore, China, and Indonesia,) in November 2011 at the U.S.-ASEAN Leaders Meeting. This year, the group met with their ASEAN counterparts in Manila and Rangoon. In these meetings and through extensive additional consultations, the group formulated a report containing recommendations on enhanced U.S.-ASEAN engagement for consideration by President Obama, Secretary Clinton, and ASEAN Leaders. The EPG report offers expert insights on topics including engagement and integration among ASEAN Member States across all three Pillars of the ASEAN Community: political/security, economic, and socio-cultural. This important Presidential initiative demonstrates our deepening engagement with multilateral institutions in the Asia-Pacific, and specifically with ASEAN, as we celebrate the 35th anniversary of the establishment of the U.S.-ASEAN Dialogue this year.
- ASEAN Secretariat Committee of Permanent Representatives Visit: This September, the United States sponsored a trip to Washington, DC and San Francisco, CA for the ASEAN Committee of Permanent Representatives (CPR), led by U.S. Mission to ASEAN Ambassador David L. Carden. The CPR oversees ASEAN Member States’ interactions with the ASEAN Secretariat and Dialogue Partners such as the United States, and includes one Representative from each of the 10 ASEAN Member States. During their visit, the CPR exchanged best practices across a variety of disciplines with officials drawn from U.S. Government, the private sector, think tanks, and universities, with the goal of improving ASEAN’s capacity to promote sustainable development, improve regional rule of law, and create an environment conducive to economic growth across Southeast Asia.
- Dialogue Partner/Donor Coordination: The United States places a high priority on outreach and collaboration with our development partners in the region and in helping ASEAN strengthen its role in partner coordination. For example, the USAID-AusAID-ASEAN collaboration with the MTV End Exploitation and Trafficking (EXIT) campaign is highlighting ASEAN’s commitment to end trafficking in persons in cooperation with its Dialogue Partners. We are also coordinating support to the AHA Centre. The United States, Japan, Australia, the EU, and New Zealand are working directly with the AHA Centre and the ASEAN Secretariat to balance the types of assistance from each partner to cover AHA Centre's priority needs for systems, staffing and training. The United States and Canada also co-chair the working group on human rights cooperation with ASEAN.
- Defense Liaison Officer: In 2011 the United States Pacific Command (PACOM) deployed a Liaison Officer to the U.S. Mission to ASEAN with the objectives of encouraging information-sharing between DOD and other U.S. agencies on multi-national security programs in Southeast Asia, and encouraging deepening and sustained engagement by DOD in ASEAN defense-related fora such as the ASEAN Defense Ministers Meeting Plus (ADMM+) mechanism. Over the past year the Mission's PACOM liaison has assisted with arrangements for the first informal dialogue between the ASEAN Defense Ministers and U.S. Secretary of Defense; coordinated U.S. co-chairmanship with Indonesia of the ADMM+ Expert Working Group on Counterterrorism; and organized a PACOM-sponsored regional workshop on environmental security.