In 2020, the United States celebrates the fifth anniversary of the U.S.-ASEAN Strategic Partnership. This partnership is built on our shared principles, as outlined in the U.S. Indo-Pacific Strategy and the ASEAN Outlook on the Indo-Pacific, including ASEAN centrality, respect for sovereignty and rule of law, good governance, transparency, inclusivity, rules-based frameworks, and openness.
Strengthening Public Health Systems for the Future
The United States continues to be a leader in global health, including by providing more than $87 million in U.S. government assistance to fight COVID-19 in ASEAN member states. We stand shoulder-to-shoulder with our ASEAN partners to mitigate the current pandemic, and also to strengthen ASEAN’s ability to prevent, detect, and respond to future zoonotic and other infectious disease outbreaks. As part of the U.S.-ASEAN Health Futures initiative, we announced several new initiatives:
- With a planned $1.5 million dollars in funding, USAID is supporting the ASEAN Public Health Emergency Coordination System, a robust public health network that supports coordination between existing national systems, as well as data transparency and legal measures so ASEAN countries can respond as a region to emerging public health crises and help prevent the next pandemic.
- USAID is investing $16 million investment in One Health Workforce-Next Generation Project to transform the multisectoral health workforce and help ASEAN countries prepare for, prevent, detect, and respond to public health emergencies.
- The U.S. Department of State created the Health Futures Alumni Network to bring together the more than 2,400 medical and public health alumni of U.S. exchange programs from ASEAN member states and Timor-Leste. This network has already come together to share best practices in fighting COVID-19.
- The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is opening a Southeast Asia regional office in Hanoi to drive further public health engagement. The CDC is working with Thailand and Vietnam by funding event-based surveillance systems that monitor COVID-19. Due to CDC training, Thailand physicians and lab technicians were well-prepared to perform COVID-19 testing.
- The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) plans to establish a formal relationship with the ASEAN Health Sector and HHS Secretary Azar hopes to co-chair the first in-person ASEAN- U.S. Health Ministers Meeting following his virtual engagement with his counterparts in April.
- USAID’s IMPACT MED, a public-private medical education alliance, is expanding with new investments to help Vietnam build health sector capacity and become more prepared for public health threats. This program combines the strengths of American medical technology companies, Harvard Medical School, five U.S. and Vietnam universities of medicine and pharmacy, the Vietnam Ministry of Health, and USAID.
- The Department of State is expanding efforts to combat wildlife trafficking in ASEAN countries through training to combat related financial crimes. Wildlife trafficking is a serious transnational crime that threatens security, fuels corruption, undermines conservation efforts, and spreads zoonotic diseases like COVID-19 that spread far beyond national borders.
Building Connectivity Through Human Capital Development
The Indo-Pacific accounts for more than half the world’s population and 58 percent of the world’s youth. As such, it is important to provide people with skills and resources to participate in the global economy and create conditions for self-reliance.
The U.S. government works alongside the private sector to improve the lives and well-being of people across the Indo-Pacific. Programs focused on people-to-people exchange, science and technology, entrepreneurship, education, technical training, and more are rooted in trust and personal relationships.
Through the Billion Futures Initiative, the United States and ASEAN will unleash the full potential of our combined one billion people in civil society, government, academia, and the private sector, in line with the connectivity pillar of the ASEAN Outlook on the Indo-Pacific. Support for these initiatives promotes a more prosperous, democratic, rights-respecting, and peaceful tomorrow.
- The U.S. Department of State is working with Congress to provide funding for the new YSEALI Academy at Fulbright University Vietnam in Ho Chi Minh City to offer executive-level capacity-building seminars for entry- to mid-level professionals ages 25-40 from across Southeast Asia around the themes of technology and innovation, public policy, and entrepreneurship.
- The U.S.-ASEAN Smart Cities Partnership is announcing pairings on transportation between Las Vegas and Phuket, Dallas and Kuala Lumpur, Portland and Johor Bahru, Boston and Phnom Penh, and Los Angeles and Jakarta. We are working to announce three pairings on water management.
- The BUILD-IT Alliance between USAID, leading American technology and education companies, eleven Vietnamese universities, and Arizona State University, is helping to modernize Vietnam’s technology and engineering schools so students can graduate with the skills needed for a 21st century workforce.
- USAID is working with the U.S. Congress on a planned initial investment of nearly $5 million in the Information Technology Partnership for Workforce Development activity in Cambodia to strengthen higher education institutions’ ability to deliver IT-related degrees and support linkages to job opportunities for Cambodian youth.
- The U.S. government is supporting the implementation of the ASEAN Enabling Masterplan 2025: Mainstreaming the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. This plan is designed to mainstream the rights of persons with disabilities across all three pillars of the ASEAN Community and help develop inclusive, rights-respecting societies. The U.S government has provided more than $170 million to improve the lives of persons with disabilities in ASEAN since 1989.
Advancing Partnerships in Economic Cooperation
The United States shares ASEAN’s concern for the economic impact of COVID-19. We are committed to the prosperity of the region, as we have been for decades. In 2019, trade in goods and services between the United States and ASEAN was more tan $354 billion. ASEAN is the United States’ fourth-largest trading partner. When one country prospers, we all prosper. We know that economic development leads to a more peaceful and secure region.
- Our support for the ASEAN Single Window (ASW) over the last decade facilitates growing ASEAN trade to the United States and intends to link the U.S. electronic customs document system with the ASW. This includes plans to share electronic plant inspection certificates, affecting about $13 billion in trade and eliminating the paper transfer of approximately 90,000 documents a year and their related costs.
- Following the successful second Indo-Pacific Business Forum (IPBF) in Bangkok last November, we are pleased to work with Vietnam to co-host the third IPBF during the last week of October. The IPBF fosters millions of dollars in corporate deals and builds stronger connections across U.S. and ASEAN private sectors.
- The U.S. International Development Finance Corporation has already invested more than $1 billion dollars to support projects in ASEAN countries, and is poised to greatly expand its support, working with ASEAN governments and the private sector.
- To strengthen women’s economic empowerment in ASEAN, USAID is supporting the second ASEAN Women’s CEO Summit organized virtually by the Vietnamese government this year, to bring U.S. expertise to develop entrepreneurship across the region.
- The United States and the ASEAN Secretariat are strengthening efforts on a five-year USAID-ASEAN Regional Development Cooperation Agreement to support regional and global challenges, economic integration of ASEAN, and rule of law.
- USAID is funding travel by ASEAN city officials as part of the ASEAN City Leader Trade Events Network Program. This program, implemented in cooperation with the Department of Commerce/ITA, facilitates knowledge exchanges, technical expert delegations and trade missions to advance U.S. private engagement for goods and services to support smart cities solutions.
- USAID is working with the U.S. Congress to provide a planned initial investment of $6.5 million in the Responsible Investment and Trade Activity (RITA) is working to facilitate fair and responsible investment and trade in goods and services between Myanmar, the United States, and other partner countries, and improve domestic corporate governance, business transparency, and competitiveness of firms operating in or entering the market in Myanmar.
- USAID supports the ASEAN Coordinating Committee on Electronic Commerce to develop the ASEAN Digital Integration Index to measure ASEAN and individual ASEAN Member State implementation of the ASEAN Digital Integration Framework and to identify areas where ASEAN member states can improve data driven policies.
- Since 2000, overall energy demand in the Southeast Asia has grown by more than 80 percent. The region’s growth in electricity demand, at an average of six percent per year, has been among the fastest in the world. The United States is committed to helping ASEAN secure a strong energy future.
- Through Asia EDGE we are continuing our work to advance market-driven energy sector transformation in ASEAN to improve the performance of energy utilities, increase deployment of advanced energy systems, and adopt transparent energy procurement practices.
- Under the U.S.-ASEAN Energy Cooperation Workplan, the United States continues its partnership with ASEAN to advance energy market integration. USAID recently completed the ASEAN Interconnection Masterplan Study to identify required interconnections to increase bilateral and multilateral power trade, which, once adopted, would form the basis of an updated ASEAN Power Grid (APG) map.
- The United States is also enhancing its collaboration with the ASEAN Council on Petroleum to support implementation of the Trans-ASEAN Gas Pipeline through the incorporation of liquefied natural gas infrastructure and harmonized regulatory and legal frameworks.
Promoting Maritime Cooperation for a Secure Indo-Pacific
More than $3.5 trillion in trade transits Indo-Pacific waters annually. In order to create a more secure Indo-Pacific region, the United States seeks to improve maritime cooperation and uphold international law and standards to resolve geopolitical challenges. These waters – such as in the South China Sea – also provide livelihoods for millions of people. ASEAN and the United States have worked together to promote the sustainable development of maritime resources.
- Insufficient regulation and minimal oversight in the Indo-Pacific commercial fishing sector has contributed to labor exploitation, including trafficking in persons, across the industry. USAID supported a regional study on trafficking and forced labor and Illegal, Unreported, and Unregulated fishing in Southeast Asia to expand the knowledge base and provide recommendations to strengthen worker protections for future ASEAN interventions.
- ASEAN and the United States continue to focus on improving Maritime Domain Awareness (MDA) and collaborating on information sharing best practices, joint and interagency operations, multinational cooperation using the U.S. Department of Transportation SeaVision application, advances in space-based MDA technology, country briefs, and case studies.
- The United States supports global partners developing an addendum to the New York Memorandum on Good Practices for Interdicting Terrorist Travel with additional recommended good practices for government and private sector partners to address and prevent potential terrorist misuse of the maritime sector.