PHNOM PENH (July 13, 2012) — The ASEAN region is a dynamic, vibrant home to more than 580 million people where we recognize economic statecraft as one of the essential pillars of our engagement.
In addition to longstanding relationships with individual ASEAN members, our economic relationship with ASEAN as a whole has grown tremendously – ASEAN is now our fourth largest trading partner. As a partner we recognize the currently unmet capacity needs of the region – over the next decade, the Asian Development Bank estimates ASEAN nations will require approximately $60 billion a year to fully address the region’s infrastructure needs. ASEAN Connectivity – energy, electricity, water, IT, telecom, and related areas – is important to the region’s development.
Events throughout Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton’s current trip to Asia underscore U.S. commitment to economic engagement within this region:
• Vietnam: On July 10, Secretary Clinton witnessed the signing of two contracts between the U.S. firm GE and Vietnamese enterprises. Under a contract with Cong Thanh, a private Vietnamese company, GE will supply a steam turbine generator for the 660-megawatt thermal power plant in the Nghi Son Economic Zone, in Thanh Hoa province.
The project includes $36 million in U.S. export content. GE will also supply electricity transmission capacitors to the National Power Transmission Corporation in a three-phase project worth $50 million, helping Vietnam increase energy efficiency and better regulate its national energy grid, enabling development of a smart grid to distribute energy more reliably and efficiently.
• Cambodia: Secretary Clinton leads the U.S. delegation to the “Commitment to Connectivity: U.S.-ASEAN Business Forum” on July 13 in Siem Reap, Cambodia. The Forum will be co-hosted by the U.S.-ASEAN Business Council and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
The Forum brings together senior U.S. and ASEAN government officials, including Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen, Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, and Burmese President Thein Sein, along with business leaders to support ASEAN’s connectivity agenda and strengthen ties between U.S. and ASEAN business communities. Business leaders and policymakers will discuss the challenges to the development of a locally-integrated and globally-connected ASEAN Economic Community by 2015, and set out an agenda for public-private sector cooperation.
• Burma: To support Burma’s reform process by promoting economic and business engagement, Under Secretary Robert Hormats will lead a delegation, including Under Secretary of Commerce for International Trade Francisco Sánchez and senior officials from the Department of State, to Naypyitaw and Rangoon, Burma, July 14 – 15, 2012. A U.S. business delegation organized by the U.S.-ASEAN Business Council will join the delegation.
Significant Deals Between U.S. and ASEAN Connectivity Partners:
• Indonesia – Last November, Lion Air and Boeing signed an agreement valued at $22 billion under which Lion Air purchased over 200 Boeing airplanes, allowing for improved connectivity, safety, and sustainability of travel within Indonesia and throughout ASEAN. Also, GE will work with PT Kereta Api to form a Locomotive Service Alliance, building a framework for these two companies to develop a Locomotive Service Center for the ASEAN region.
• Malaysia – Last month, GE signed an agreement to supply advanced turbo compression technology for the PETRONAS LNG Train 9 project. This $150 million contract will bring the latest natural gas production technology to Malaysia.
Long-term economic programs with partners in ASEAN:
• The Connectivity Cooperation Initiative, announced by President Obama at the November 2011 U.S.-ASEAN Leaders Meeting and supported by the U.S. Trade and Development Agency (USTDA), aims to increase U.S. private sector support for ASEAN’s connectivity efforts. USTDA convened the Initiative’s first activity – a widely attended regional workshop on Emergency Preparedness and Disaster Management Workshop – in May in Bangkok and will host a SmartGrid Workshop in November 2012 in Hanoi, Vietnam.
• The United States, led by the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR), works formally with ASEAN through the US-ASEAN Trade and Investment Framework Arrangement (TIFA) to support regional trade, investment, and economic integration. Through this effort, the United States and ASEAN are introducing new trade initiatives on digital connectivity, healthcare services, agribusiness, and consumer goods, and will hold the U.S.-ASEAN Business Summit at the ASEAN Economic Ministers Meeting in August in Phnom Penh. USTR has also led the United States’ engagement in support of Laos’ efforts to accede to the World Trade Organization.
• ASEAN Development Vision to Advance National Cooperation and Economic Integration (the ADVANCE program), supported jointly by the State Department and USAID, implements approximately 40 activities each year to support human rights promotion and protection, narrow the development gap among ASEAN member countries, and enhance economic integration.
As an Asian Development Bank (ADB) board member, the United States supported the creation of the ASEAN Infrastructure Fund ($485 million) to support infrastructure projects aimed at creating an integrated ASEAN community. Funded projects will create opportunities for U.S. businesses to participate in ASEAN infrastructure projects in the energy, transportations, and information and communications technology sectors.
• On January 27, 2012 the United States, in partnership with ASEAN, the Lao Customs Department, and the Ministry of Finance, sponsored a workshop which launched a roadmap for establishing a Lao National Single Window for faster customs clearance and linking it to the ASEAN Single Window. The ASEAN Single Window is a cornerstone of establishing the ASEAN Economic Community by 2015.