President Biden will welcome the leaders of the Association of Southeast Nations (ASEAN) for a historic U.S.-ASEAN Special Summit, held for the first time in Washington D.C. and at the White House, to re-affirm the United States’ enduring commitment to Southeast Asia and underscore the importance of U.S.-ASEAN cooperation in ensuring security, prosperity, and respect for human rights.
Over many years, the United States has steadily deepened our partnership with Southeast Asia. The United States has provided over $12.1 billion in development, economic, health, and security assistance to Southeast Asian allies and partners since 2002 and over that same period of time, the United States has provided over $1.4 billion in humanitarian assistance, including life-saving disaster assistance, emergency food aid, and support to refugees throughout Southeast Asia. Building on our long-standing commitment to this critical region, the Biden-Harris Administration’s FY 2023 Budget Request included over $800 million in bilateral assistance for ASEAN partners and over $25 million to deepen relations with ASEAN and enhance ASEAN’s capacity to tackle pressing regional challenges.
The United States and Southeast Asia also benefit from our far-reaching commercial and trade ties. ASEAN represents the world’s fourth largest market and the United States is ASEAN’s largest source of foreign direct investment, while our two-way trade amounted to over $360 billion in 2020.
U.S.-ASEAN relations are ultimately anchored in the special friendship shared by our combined one billion people. Our ongoing commitment to deepening people-to-people ties is marked by 7000 programs at 83 American Spaces in ASEAN countries, the Young Southeast Asian Leaders Initiative’s 155,000 alumni, and the connections forged through nearly 6 million U.S. visas, including student visas, granted to Southeast Asian travelers since 2010.
At the annual U.S.-ASEAN Summit in October 2021, President Biden announced an unprecedented investment of up to $102 million in U.S.-ASEAN relations, significantly expanding our cooperation on health, climate, science and innovation, trade facilitation, education, and more. Today, the United States and ASEAN will inaugurate a new era of partnership, guided by the complementary objectives of the Indo-Pacific Strategy of the United States and the ASEAN Outlook on the Indo-Pacific. In that spirit, President Biden is announcing over $150 million in initiatives which we expect will mobilize billions more in private financing that will deepen U.S.-ASEAN relations, strengthen ASEAN centrality, and expand our common capacity to achieve our shared objectives.
ACCELERATING CLIMATE ACTION, SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT, AND INCLUSIVE PROSPERITY
In support of U.S.-ASEAN Climate Futures and U.S.-ASEAN Economic Futures, the United States and ASEAN will raise our collective climate ambition while working together to support implementation of the Master Plan on ASEAN Connectivity 2025. We will help meet the region’s enormous infrastructure needs in a sustainable manner that accelerates the clean energy transition, helps the region to achieve a path to net zero emissions by mid-century, and drives inclusive, broad-based prosperity.
- Investing in Clean Energy Infrastructure: Through the Southeast Asia Smart Power Program, the United States will invest $40 million in order to mobilize $2 billion in blended financing for clean energy infrastructure in Southeast Asia, thereby decarbonizing and strengthening the region’s power system, increasing regional energy trade, and accelerating the deployment of clean energy technologies.
- U.S.-ASEAN Forest Future Initiative: The United States is committed to working with ASEAN to fight deforestation and accelerate the regional transition to sustainable, climate-positive forest economies – a critical step in achieving ASEAN countries’ climate and development goals.
- Mobilizing Finance at Scale: The United States is launching a new platform, bringing together members of the Forest Investor Club, leaders from the United States and ASEAN in the financial sector, conservation and community engagement organizations, agriculture and forestry companies, and governments, to deliver a coordinated approach for natural capital finance. This initiative, subject to appropriate procedures and requirements, aims to mobilize $1 billion in capital investment across the region toward sustainable forestry, forest restoration, and responsible land use.
- ASEAN Nature Finance Innovation Roundtable: The U.S. Agency for International Development, the Department of State, and the U.S. International Development Finance Corporation will convene an ASEAN Nature Finance Innovation Roundtable to catalyze the use of innovative financial mechanisms and mobilize additional finance to support the long-term conservation, restoration, and sustainable management of critical ecosystems in Southeast Asia.
- U.S.-ASEAN Climate Solutions Hub: The United States is launching a U.S.-ASEAN Climate Solutions Hub, which will provide technical assistance to ASEAN countries in order to accelerate implementation of their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) and related low-emission development and resilience strategies. This demand-driven initiative will support renewable energy deployment, decarbonization of the transportation sector, methane reduction efforts, and sustainable agriculture, forestry, and land management. It will also support the development of energy and land-use frameworks and measures that mobilize public and private finance and achieve just transitions.
- The U.S.-ASEAN Transportation Dialogue Partnership: The Department of Transportation will launch new air, land, and maritime transportation programs that promote safety, sustainable and resilient infrastructure, regional connectivity, and emerging transport technologies.
- The U.S.-ASEAN Alliance for Protected Area Conservation: The Department of the Interior, including the National Park Service, will collaborate with their counterparts in Southeast Asia to expand conservation and reverse deforestation. U.S. rangers will travel to Southeast Asia to share best practices and improve protected area management across the region, emphasizing nature-based climate solutions, sustainable tourism and visitor management, traditional knowledge and access to resources, and transboundary habitat connectivity.
- Promoting Investment in Climate-Smart Infrastructure: The U.S. Trade and Development Agency is launching new initiatives intended to catalyze over $13 billion in financing for clean energy projects that advance ASEAN’s net zero goals, while leveraging over $1 billion in public and private financing for investment in digital infrastructure and smart cities in Southeast Asia.
- Space Cooperation: The United States will invest in the SERVIR initiative to share satellite data across ASEAN in support of climate monitoring and environmental forecasting, disaster management, and food security analysis.
- Reducing Methane Emissions: The United States is committed to working with the nations of Southeast Asia to reduce the region’s methane emissions. The United States welcomed Indonesia, Vietnam, Malaysia, the Philippines, and Singapore joining the Global Methane Pledge at COP-26, and we are accelerating technical assistance, financial resources, and project pipeline development for methane mitigation in Global Methane Pledge countries, including through the EPA, USTDA, DFC, and EXIM, as well as the newly-created Global Methane Hub, a philanthropic fund that can support methane mitigation priorities in the region.
- Trade Winds Business Forum: The Department of Commerce will hold its 2023 flagship trade mission – Trade Winds Business Forum – in Southeast Asia. U.S. companies from a wide range of industries will have the opportunity to pursue new commercial and trade opportunities in the region, building on the 2022 U.S. trade missions to Southeast Asia focused on clean energy, healthcare, and advanced manufacturing.
- Accelerating Digital Development: The United States will advance digital development across Southeast Asia through a new $6 million regional initiative that will, in line with the ASEAN Digital Integration Framework Action Plan, support innovation, strengthen digital economy rule-making, facilitate public-private connections, strengthen digital policymaking, and support the adoption of global standards in artificial intelligence.
SUPPORTING ACCESS TO EDUCATION
The strength of U.S.-ASEAN relations is anchored in the friendship shared by our combined one billion people. Each year the United States provides more than $70 million to support educational and cultural exchanges that foster greater understanding, enhance cooperation, and create lifelong friendships that increase the strength and resilience of our communities over the long term.
- U.S.-ASEAN Institute for Rising Leaders at the School of Advanced International Studies: The Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) will launch the U.S.-ASEAN Institute for Rising Leaders, an innovative program to bring exceptional public servants from ASEAN governments to the United States for professional and leadership training. Through private funding, including from Boeing, UPS, PhRMA, and JPMorgan Chase and Co., the program will sponsor up to 30 mid-career public-service professionals each year – up to three from each of the ten ASEAN countries – to attend a tailored, intensive multi-week leadership-development program. The Institute will hone the academic, leadership, and policy-making skills of emerging Southeast Asian leaders and lay a robust foundation for deepening the U.S.-ASEAN partnership – between governments, businesses, and individuals – for years to come.
- Expanding Youth Engagement: The Department of State will double the size of the Young Southeast Asian Leaders Initiative (YSEALI) program within three years, such that 900 emerging leaders will benefit from YSEALI’s academic and professional opportunities every year.
- Cooperation in Higher Education: The U.S. government, alongside American companies and universities, is committed to increasing connectivity among educational institutions in the United States and Southeast Asia, while providing new opportunities for students and workers in ASEAN countries to study in the United States or develop critical skills at home.
- Billion Futures Scholarships: A new cohort of Billion Futures Scholars will begin their studies in U.S. universities across the United States in Fall 2022, joining the 100 Scholars currently in the United States for undergraduate and graduate study, adding $5 million in new funding to our Billion Futures commitment.
- U.S.-ASEAN University Connections: The Department of State will launch a new exchange program through which 20 academic fellows from universities across ASEAN will travel to the United States, exchange best practices with U.S. academics, and explore opportunities for collaborative research and teaching initiatives.
- Fulbright ASEAN Scholars: The Department of State will double the size of the Fulbright U.S.-ASEAN Visiting Scholarship Program, such that a wider range of ASEAN academics, government officials, and civil society leaders can travel to the United States to undertake research on topics of importance to the U.S.-ASEAN relationship.
- English Language Training: The Department of State will significantly expand English language programs in Southeast Asia with a new $3 million investment that will provide capacity-building support for hundreds of thousands of English teachers in the region.
- Private Sector Initiatives: Leading American companies have announced new initiatives to increase opportunities for education, training, and upskilling in Southeast Asia. Google will equip 200,000 small and medium enterprises in Southeast Asia with the skills to grow their business, through a $4 million grant to The Asia Foundation’s “Go Digital ASEAN,” and the U.S. Department of State and Google will partner to build digital literacy among youth at American Spaces located in Southeast Asia. HP is providing more than 20,000 students in Indonesia with technology and entrepreneurship skills through five HP Tech Hubs, while 3M is supporting science, technology, engineering, and math education for girls across Southeast Asia. The U.S. ASEAN Business Council Institute has launched a Myanmar Scholarship Fund to support students in the United States whose higher education journeys were disrupted by the crisis in Myanmar.
EXPANDING MARITIME COOPERATION
The United States is committed to supporting implementation of the ASEAN Outlook on the Indo-Pacific’s Maritime Pillar. Today we are announcing $60 million in new regional maritime initiatives, most of which will be led by the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG).
- Personnel and Presence: The USCG will deploy assets and assign additional personnel to the Indo-Pacific to help meet partners’ requests for maritime training and capacity-building, to include a USCG attaché at the U.S. Mission to ASEAN.
- Countering Illegal, Unreported, and Unregulated Fishing: The Department of State, Department of Labor, and USCG will launch new initiatives to help ASEAN counties counter illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing and strengthen the capacity of ASEAN sectoral bodies to prevent forced labor in the fishing industry.
- Indo-Pacific Support Platform: The USCG will deploy a cutter to Southeast Asia and Oceania for security cooperation and to operate as a training platform. This cutter will deploy throughout the region providing multinational crewing opportunities, conduct training missions, and participate in cooperative maritime engagements.
- Excess Defense Articles: As USCG decommissions cutters, the service will prioritize the transfer of ships to Southeast Asian countries to increase the coastal nations’ maritime law enforcement capacity and promote a free and open Pacific.
- Southeast Asia Training Team: The Department of State and USCG will expand USCG support to maritime law enforcement agencies in Southeast Asia by placing a training team in the region for the first time with additional dedicated support from U.S.-based trainers. These technical experts will provide capacity-building for the regional partners’ maritime law enforcement agencies in the areas of institutional development, readiness, sustainment of equipment, and workforce professionalization.
- Emergency Training: The USCG and the Department of State will provide new trainings on energy safeguards, protection of critical maritime infrastructure, and all-hazards response.
PROMOTING GLOBAL HEALTH AND HEALTH SECURITY
In support of U.S.-ASEAN Health Futures, the United States and ASEAN are taking swift action to fight the COVID-19 pandemic, strengthen health systems, and promote health security. The United States is proud to have provided over $200 million in COVID-19 assistance through the Department of State and USAID and donated over 115 million doses of safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines in Southeast Asia, with more on the way.
- Enhancing Pan-Respiratory Diseases Surveillance: The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), through its new regional office in Hanoi, Vietnam, will enhance surveillance for pan‑respiratory diseases in Southeast Asia, including through expanded sample collection and access, and through capacity-building for laboratories and other healthcare facilities. This $5 million program will increase coverage of large urban population sites and significantly expand access to genomic testing equipment and technology.
- Airborne Infection Defense Platform: USAID will support up to $10 million in programs to advance early detection and community response for COVID-19, tuberculosis, and other airborne diseases across Southeast Asia.
- Global Health Worker Initiative: The United States is working to strengthen regional health systems, increase ASEAN countries’ health capacity, and expand, train, and protect the health workforce across Southeast Asia, in support of the newly-announced Administration Global Health Worker Initiative.
- Supporting Community-Based Health Capacity: The President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) is strengthening human health systems management in ASEAN countries, including through train-the-trainer programs for clinical and community health workers and programs that counter discrimination in the health workforce toward HIV/AIDS patients.
- Healthcare Curriculum: USAID is partnering with Vietnam to enhance its medical training program and ensure Vietnam’s health professionals are prepared to meet the country’s current and future needs. By 2025, over 2,000 university faculty will be trained in new educational methods and 5,000 physicians will graduate from the revised program.
- COVID-19 Training: Peace Corps is supporting COVID-19 mitigation and vaccine promotion training for the public and the healthcare workforce, including for community health workers in remote locations, in many ASEAN countries.