U.S.-ASEAN Engagement

Fact Sheet
Office of the Spokesperson
Washington, DC
October 9, 2013

On October 9, Secretary of State John Kerry attended the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) - U.S. Summit in Brunei and met with ASEAN leaders, foreign ministers, and the ASEAN Secretariat’s Secretary-General. In this meeting, Secretary Kerry reaffirmed the importance of U.S.-ASEAN ties as a crucial element of the United States’ strategic rebalance to the Asia-Pacific region and highlighted many of the cooperative activities the United States has undertaken with ASEAN across its political-security, economic, and socio-cultural pillars.

Political-Security Engagement

  • The PROGRESS Program: The ASEAN-U.S. Partnership for Good Governance, Equitable and Sustainable Development, and Security (PROGRESS) supports ASEAN’s capacity to advance good governance and regional security, and promotes equitable and sustainable human development in Southeast Asia in line with the ASEAN-U.S. Enhanced Partnership Plan of Action 2011-2015. PROGRESS will support ongoing U.S.-ASEAN political-security and socio-cultural cooperation, as well as ASEAN Secretariat capacity building. Key areas of cooperation include: transnational crime; promotion of human rights (including women’s and children’s rights); legislative and judicial cooperation; response planning to natural disasters; science and technology; and human resource development.

  • Cyber Issues: The United States and Singapore will expand cooperation to strengthen cybercrime capabilities within ASEAN. Cybercrime cooperation will address the authorities, tools, and techniques necessary for law enforcement agencies to effectively investigate cybercrime and process electronic evidence for any type of crime, and effectively use formal and informal international cooperation mechanisms for assistance in cybercrime investigations and other investigations involving electronic evidence.

  • Trafficking in Persons: In June 2013, the United States proposed the ASEAN-U.S. Joint Declaration for Cooperation to Combat Trafficking in Persons, which would recognize ASEAN’s 2004 Declaration Against Trafficking in Persons and its 2007 Declaration on the Protection and the Promotion of the Rights of Migrant Workers, and pledge enhanced cooperation in combating this crime that affects the entire region.

  • Improving Preparedness for Disaster Management: The United States is committed to cooperating with ASEAN member states on disaster risk reduction and management through the ASEAN Coordinating Center for Humanitarian Assistance (AHA).

  • Expanded ASEAN Seafarers Training: The United States and the Philippines co-chaired the first annual Expanded ASEAN Seafarer Training Workshop on Counter-Piracy (EAST-CP) held in Manila on September 23 - 25 as part of the Expanded ASEAN Seafarers’ Training (EAST) initiative. This activity was proposed at the first Expanded ASEAN Maritime Forum (EAMF) in October 2012. The workshop addressed concerns for the safety and welfare of seafarers in relation to armed robbery and piracy. The United States proposed at the 2nd EAMF in Kuala Lumpur on October 3 2013 to continue this workshop in the future and broaden the scope of EAST beyond counter-piracy topics to address other areas of mutual interest in the field of seafarer training and education, covering topics such as safety of navigation, building capacity, and environmental awareness.

Economic Engagement

  • U.S.-ASEAN Expanded Economic Engagement (E3): Launched in November 2012, E3 has made progress in concrete joint activities that will expand two-way trade and investment, such as the completion in the near future of a joint statement on Shared Principles for International Investment. These principles will reaffirm the 11 countries’ commitment to a policy environment that enables and encourages international investment by addressing the essential elements of market access, non-discrimination, investment protections, transparency, and responsible business. Other E3 activities have included the second ASEAN Economic Ministers Roadshow to the United States, which took place in June and included discussions with the U.S. private sector, academics, and government officials on opportunities and policies to expand trade and investment in all 11 countries.
  • The ASEAN Connectivity for Trade and Investment (ACTI): This program aims to strengthen the trade and investment environment and enhance private sector integration and competitiveness in ASEAN. The program facilitates trade through improving standards and systems, boosting the capacity of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), accelerating the deployment of clean energy technologies, and expanding connectivity. USAID and the U.S.-ASEAN Business Council (USABC), through its ASEAN Committee led by Procter & Gamble, UPS, HP, GE, and Microsoft, have signed a Memorandum of Understanding to partner to expand the resources, scope and diversity of training for small and medium-sized enterprises and enhance the existing USABC SME program in the run-up to the creation of the ASEAN Economic Community in 2015.
  • Collaborative ASEAN and APEC Activities: Starting in 2011, joint work has been organized in priority areas such as food safety and food security, green buildings, and energy, where ASEAN and APEC share common objectives. The United States has worked hard to include non-APEC ASEAN members (Burma, Cambodia, and Laos) in these valuable APEC capacity building activities so that these economies can fully benefit from this work. Thirteen workshops have been implemented or are scheduled through 2013 on various topics, including codes of conducts for ethical business practices for SMEs, green building codes and rating systems, food safety standards, managing food incidents, food security, emerging agricultural technologies, building information modeling, and general good regulatory practices. A regional natural gas event co-hosted by the United States and the Government of Indonesia, and jointly endorsed by APEC and ASEAN, focused on changing global gas markets and the development of unconventional gas.

Socio-Cultural Engagement

  • The Brunei-U.S. English-Language Enrichment Project for ASEAN: This five-year, $25 million project is funded by the Government of Brunei to improve English language skills in ASEAN and is being implemented in collaboration with the U.S. Department of State. Nearly seventy government officials and teacher trainers from ASEAN countries recently completed the project’s second eleven-week English language intensive course in Brunei Darussalam and Hawaii. The first group successfully completed the course in December 2012.
  • Fulbright Exchange of U.S.-ASEAN Scholars: Launched in September 2012, the U.S.-ASEAN Fulbright Initiative, enables scholars from ASEAN member countries to travel to the United States to focus on ASEAN-related priorities, while Americans, as Fulbright Specialists and American Fulbright Scholars in the region, provide capacity-building expertise or scholarly collaboration at ASEAN institutions or universities in ASEAN member countries. The first cohort of visiting ASEAN scholars’ areas of research include: food security, public health, U.S.-ASEAN political relations, monetary policy, and law, and are being hosted by such universities as Harvard, Cornell, Johns Hopkins, and UC-Berkeley. The Fulbright U.S.-ASEAN Initiative, launched to mark 35 years of partnership between ASEAN and the United States, builds upon the approximately 735 Fulbright scholarships awarded to U.S. or ASEAN citizens each year for study, research, or teaching in one another’s country.
  • Education USA College Fairs: In an effort to support the goal of increasing the number of students studying in the United States from ASEAN countries and vice versa, the 2014 Education USA Southeast Asia College and University Fair will be held in February, with stops in seven ASEAN nations. This expands upon the 2013 iteration that visited 12 cities across Myanmar, Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand.
  • Exchanges and Engagement with ASEAN Youth: The United States is supporting a number of exchanges and programs geared specifically for youth. Through the Southeast Asia Youth Leadership Program, the U.S. Department of State sponsors U.S.-based exchanges for high school students and educators from all 10 ASEAN member countries. In addition, together with the Government of Malaysia, the United States is pleased to support the ASEAN Youth Volunteer Program that was launched in August. Volunteers will embody “ASEAN-helping-ASEAN” and a sense of regional identity, while supporting solutions to development challenges facing communities. The United States is also supporting the upcoming ASEAN Youth Summit, bringing together recent program participants from Department of State-sponsored exchange programs in Manila in December.
  • Exchanges for Young Professionals: The U.S. Department of State is hosting a total of 70 young emerging professional leaders focused on governance and economic empowerment from eight of the ten ASEAN nations to come to the United States for intensive month-long fellowships at relevant U.S. organizations in the coming year under the Professional Fellows Program, with more than 20 Americans then traveling to their counterparts’ countries in Southeast Asia on follow-up programs.
  • ASEAN Young Leaders Dialogue: From October 8-10 in Brunei, the United States brought together a diverse cross-section of young leaders from all 10 ASEAN member countries. The 20 youth delegates (two from each ASEAN country) assembled to chart the course for an ASEAN Young Leaders Summit to be held in Manila this December. Secretary Kerry held a dialogue with this group to exchange views on issues of importance to the region’s youth, their efforts to institute change in their countries and communities, and how they believe the U.S. can contribute to their efforts to address the region’s challenges and promote opportunities. The ASEAN participants are all alumni of U.S. government programs and have established themselves as leaders in civil society and the private sector.

PRN: 2013/1239