Top Story of the week: Secretary Clinton and U.S. Business Highlight Commitment to ASEAN Connectivity
- For more information on the Council's Cambodia program, please contact Carr Slayton at email@example.com or 202 416-6712.
Secretary Clinton and U.S. Business Highlight Commitment to ASEAN Connectivity
embargoed till 7pm July 13 Cambodia Time
(Siem Reap, Cambodia) An unprecedented group of government and business leaders from the United States and ASEAN gathered today in Siem Reap for the first ever US-ASEAN Business Forum. Entitled C2C, or, Commitment to Connectivity, the conference focused on crafting recommendations for strengthening ASEAN’s connectivity agenda and enhancing ties between the U.S. and ASEAN business communities. The event created opportunities for senior business executives from the U.S. and ASEAN to work directly with U.S. and ASEAN government officials on plans to support the continuing development of ASEAN as a single, sustainable market of 600 million plus consumers. The day was headlined by keynote speeches from U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, Prime Minister of Cambodia Hun Sen, President of Myanmar Thein Sein, and Prime Minister of Thailand Yingluck Shinawatra, and was organized by the US-ASEAN Business Council and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
The ASEAN Connectivity initiative encompasses both local and global integration efforts, and includes traditional infrastructure efforts like roads and ports as well as the digital infrastructure, healthcare and education needed to support 21st century business and grow greater people to people linkages. Companies engaged in this effort include major international conglomerates as well as representatives of the emerging SME’s who form the backbone of global economic growth.
Participating ASEAN government officials included Prime Minister of Cambodia Hun Sen, President of Myanmar Thein Sein, and Prime Minister of Thailand Yingluck Shinawatra. The United States was represented by Secretary Clinton, Under Secretary of Commerce for International Trade Administration Francisco Sánchez, Under Secretary of State for Economic Growth, Energy and the Environment Robert Hormats, and 9 American Ambassadors stationed in ASEAN. A wide range of CEO’s and top executives from leading companies in both ASEAN and the U.S. also joined the dialogue.
“ASEAN’s importance to U.S. business cannot be overstated,” said Alexander Feldman, the President of the US-ASEAN Business Council. “The progress made on the connectivity agenda will be a major factor in how successful ASEAN is at achieving regional economic integration, further growing its economies, and attracting trade and investment from around the world. American companies eager to play a role in this development by bringing their unique blend of high-quality goods and services, technology, and training to bear on partnerships in ASEAN. Today’s conference is a major step in connecting American and ASEAN companies who can work towards creating projects to increase ASEAN connectivity together.”
ASEAN ranks as the 4th largest export market for the United States. U.S.-ASEAN trade has grown 60% since 2002, including 10.4% in 2011. All ten bilateral trading relationships are growing. ASEAN hosts by far the largest stock of U.S. investment in Asia, nearly three times more than China.The event was sponsored by many of the U.S. companies who have pioneered business engagement in ASEAN, including Boeing, Caterpillar, Chevron, DHL, Oracle, Peabody Energy, P&G, Ace, Black and Veatch, the Coca-Cola Company, GE, and Google, and was co-hosted by the U.S Chamber of Commerce.
Cambodia – Thailand Relations
Foreign Minister Hor Namhong announced Friday that Cambodia would withdraw more than 480 soldiers from a demilitarized zone around the Preah Vihear Temple next week.
He said the unilateral decision for the withdrawal next Wednesday expressed Cambodia’s will in accordance with an order by the International Court of Justice on July 18 last year.
US companies will re-establish their commitment to Cambodia and the region today at the US-ASEAN Business Forum in Siem Reap, a high-profile meeting involving several heads of state and some of the biggest companies in the world.
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will lead the largest- ever delegation of American businesses to the 10-country economic bloc. Prime Minister Hun Sen, Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra and Myanmar President Thein Sein will address the conference, at which US conglomerate General Electric is expected to sign a power agreement with a Cambodian firm.
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is in Cambodia where she met with Prime Minister Hun Sen to discuss U.S. investment and Cambodia's outstanding debt.
Cambodia wants the United States to forgive more than $400 million in debt accrued by the US-backed military government of Lon Nol. He took power in a 1970 coup and borrowed money from Washington at three percent interest, in part, to feed supporters in Phnom Penh as they were surrounded and ultimately defeated by the Khmer Rouge. Prime Minister Hun Sen says that is "dirty debt" that Cambodia should not have to repay.
Next week marks the departure of Asian Development Bank country director Putu Kamayana to open a Myanmar office for the Asian Development Bank.
He took time to reflect on his experience in Cambodia, his positive reaction to Toll Royal’s resumption of the Cambodia railway operations and his excitement about heading up an ADB presence in Myanmar. Kamayana, 58, who arrived in Cambodia in September 2009 to serve as ADB country director, expects a railway freight service between Phnom Penh and Sihanoukville to begin by early next year. Kamayana said Toll Royal would enjoy the advantages of being operator of the project, enabling them to save money by carrying construction materials by rail.
Access to the region’s largest collective financial resource, the ASEAN Infrastructure Fund, could be easier than expected for Cambodia, according to an Asian Development Bank economist.
Initiated in May, the fund is expected to lend up to US$4 billion and leverage up to $13 billion for the region’s infrastructure needs until 2020. ASEAN countries and ADB have provided initial equity of $485 million for the fund.
The government will drop subsidies for high electricity use, after the Electricity Authority of Cambodia (EAC) reported losses of US$3 million between January and May this year.
Households consuming more than 200 KW/h per month will no longer receive a 100 to 200 riel per KW/h subsidy said Ty Thany, financial director of (EAC).
Improvements in the standard of living and an increasing number of middle class Cambodians in Phnom Penh were factors in the government’s decision to stop the subsidy for large-volume electricity users, according to Ty Thany.
The 30th ASEAN Senior Officials Meeting on Energy (SOME) began here today to discuss the bloc' s energy security and green energy connectivity.
Chea Sieng Hong, secretary of state for Cambodia's ministry of industry, mines and energy, said that the meeting was to discuss on-going efforts towards ASEAN Green Connectivity when the ASEAN turns into a community in 2015.
"It is focused on energy security in the ASEAN region, green energy in the context of climate change," he told the opening session.
Food & Agriculture
Thailand may not export certain varieties of Cambodian-grown, but Thai-milled, rice internationally due to fears of intellectual property violations.
Cambodian Malis rice is very similar to jasmine rice, and Thailand has expressed concerns that it may infringe on the Thai-owned jasmine rice variety. The Ministry of Agriculture has been advocating that Cambodian farmers grow other Cambodian rice varieties to avoid such problems in the future.
Pou Puy, president of the Cambodian Rice Millers Association, said that the export of Cambodia’s white rice faces challenges in terms of both quantity and competitive pricing, as exports of milled rice dropped about 35 per cent for the first half of 2012 compared to the same period in 2011.
He said it is difficult to compete with Vietnam. “Our quantity cannot compete. It is a challenge we think will take a long time to beat.” Lim Bun Heng, president of Cambodian Milled Rice Exporters, said that although Cambodia’s white rice exports dropped in the first half of the year, the export of fragrant milled rice rose over 50 per cent compared to the same period last year.
ambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen and Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra on Friday called for more U.S. investments in infrastructures, energy, oil and gas in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).
Addressing the U.S.-ASEAN Business Forum themed "Commitment to Connectivity" at Cambodia's Siem Reap province on Friday evening, Hun Sen said, "ASEAN, particularly Cambodia, wants to see more U.S. investments in the fields of energy, oil and gas. "
Foreign ministers from the Mekong region's key development partners and the Asian Development Bank endorsed Friday a two-track structure for the Friends of the Lower Mekong group.
They also agreed in principle to cooperate in supporting a new study by the Mekong River Commission, a statement said. The endorsement coincided with the second meeting of the group which comprises Australia, Japan, South Korea, New Zealand, the European Union and the ADB along with Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam.
Prime Minister Hun Sen met Thursday with East Asian foreign ministers ahead of the ASEAN Region Forum.
"We have to work together to tackle challenges including natural disasters as well as climate change," he was quoted as saying by assistant Ieng Sophalet. Hun Sen also highlighted the need to accelerate ASEAN integration and expressed Cambodia's thanks to Japan, Korea and the United States for their separate Mekong initiatives.
Cambodia says Southeast Asian foreign ministers have moved closer to agreement on guidelines for preventing territorial disputes in the South China Sea.
A Cambodian foreign ministry official said Monday top diplomats of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations made progress in drafting a maritime Code of Conduct, or COC, on the first day of an annual forum in Phnom Penh.
“They met and they adopted the key elements of the COC only among the member states, and from now on they will have to start assessments with China.”
ASEAN remains hopeful it can still entice the five permanent members of the UN Security Council to sign a regional nuclear-weapon-free agreement after a scheduled signing was postponed on Sunday, a Cambodian foreign ministry spokesman has said.
Four of the “P5” countries – the UK, Russia, France and the US, with the other being China – have expressed reservations about signing a protocol within the Southeast Asia Nuclear Weapon-Free Zone (SEANWFZ) treaty, which was to take place during this week’s ASEAN meetings in the capital.
Health & Life Sciences
Malaysian government officials yesterday were promoting their country’s healthcare sector in efforts to persuade Cambodians to seek medical services there as part of a broader commitment to the growth of bilateral trade between both countries.
Malaysian Ambassador to Cambodia Datuk Pengiran Haji Mohd Tahir Nasruddin said during the third Showcase Malaysia 2012 Exhibition in Phnom Penh that 10 Malaysian hospitals participated in the fair to consult with attendees about their services.
Researchers found a virus that causes hand, foot and mouth disease in patients who succumbed to an illness that has killed dozens of children in Cambodia.
The Institut Pasteur du Cambodge discovered enterovirus 71 in 15 of 24 children presenting with the symptoms since mid- June, Philippe Buchy, head of the Phnom Penh-based institute’s virology unit, said yesterday by phone. The virus may be linked to the deaths of more than 60 children across the country since April, he said.
Health officials investigating an illness that has killed more than 50 children in Cambodia say they have detected a virus that causes hand, foot and mouth disease, easing fears that a major new disease was emerging from the impoverished Southeast Asian country.
But they stressed that investigations were continuing, with no complete explanation yet for the illness's apparent severity and no concrete treatment strategy.
Revenue at Sihanoukville Autonomous Port increased 13.6 per cent year on year between January and June, port officials confirmed yesterday.
As the state-owned enterprise gears up for listing on the Cambodia Securities Exchange, the neighbouring Sihanoukville Special Economic Zone will play an increasingly important role in boosting throughput, insiders said.
The port – Cambodia’s largest – brought in about US$14 million in revenues during the period, Chief Executive Officer Lou Kim Chhun said. Garment and rice exports accounted for the bulk of outgoing shipments.
Prime Minister Hun Sen yesterday shot down calls for a free visa system for all ASEAN + 3 nations. The proposal would have included the ASEAN nations as well as China, Japan and South Korea. Minister of Tourism Thong Khon made the proposal during a Tourism Ministry meeting at the Chaktomok Conference Hall in Phnom Penh.
Secretary Clinton’s Visit
Several US officials traveled to Phnom Penh last week with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, comprising a broad effort to strengthen American ties with Cambodia and the region.
Among them was Under Secretary of Commerce for International Trade Francisco Sanchez, who met with economic officials and business leaders on Friday at the inaugural US-Asean Business Forum in Siem Reap.
US, ASEAN gather for business forum, PIA, July 14
A group of government and business leaders from the United States and Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) gathered in Siem Reap, Cambodia on July 13 for the first ever US-ASEAN Business Forum.
Entitled Commitment to Connectivity (C2C), the conference focused on crafting recommendations for strengthening ASEAN’s connectivity agenda and enhancing ties between the US and ASEAN business communities, a press release from the US-ASEAN Business Council said.
First ASEAN-US Business Forum to kick off to chart economic cooperation, Global Times, July 13
The ASEAN-US Business Forum that is to kick off Friday evening here attracted the largest ever number of American business executives to seek business opportunities in thes Southeast Asian countries.
The ASEAN-US Business Forum will bring together hundreds of cabinet ministers and senior policymakers from the US and ASEAN governments, as well as business leaders from the US and ASEAN, to address the opportunities and challenges that will define the direction of future US-ASEAN economic cooperation, said a joint press release from the organizers, the US-ASEAN Business Council and the US Chamber of Commerce.
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced $50 million in fresh funding for the Lower Mekong Initiative, a project that aims to boost development in Southeast Asia as it expands U.S. involvement in the region.
Launched by Mrs. Clinton in 2009, the initiative has provided financial and technical support to help countries along the Mekong River-Cambodia, Laos, Thailand and Vietnam—to grapple with environmental issues and improve infrastructure, health care and education. U.S. officials said Friday they were also adding Myanmar to the group.
The United States wants to resolve bilateral debt issues with Cambodia to help it increase its access to international capital markets, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said.
Speaking at a news conference Thursday, Clinton said she was "personally" committed to resolving Cambodia's outstanding debt to the United States, which dates back to the 1970s.
Entitled C2C, or, Commitment to Connectivity, the conference focused on crafting recommendations for strengthening ASEAN's connectivity agenda and enhancing ties between the US and ASEAN business communities. The event created opportunities for senior business executives from the US and ASEAN to work directly with US and ASEAN government officials on plans to support the continuing development of ASEAN as a single, sustainable market of 600 million plus consumers. The day was headlined by keynote speeches from US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, Prime Minister of Cambodia Hun Sen, President of Myanmar Thein Sein, and Prime Minister of Thailand Yingluck Shinawatra, and was organized by the US-ASEAN Business Council and the US Chamber of Commerce.
The United States is committed to helping ordinary Cambodians rather than funding vanity projects, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Thursday, in a subtle dig at China-backed schemes in the country.
"The United States remains strongly committed to working with and supporting Cambodian people," Clinton told reporters after attending a regional security forum in the capital Phnom Penh.
Prime Minister Hun Sen was expected to appeal Friday for increased foreign investment in Cambodia at a US-ASEAN Business Forum in Siem Reap, officials said.
The forum is also being attended by about 200 US business leaders, the biggest US business delegation ever to visit Cambodia, along with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Myanmar President Thein Sein and Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra were also expected to attend.
Foreign ministers from five Mekong countries welcomed US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's announcement Friday of $50 million in new aid to the Mekong region.
The announcement came during talks with ministers from Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, Vietnam and, for the first time, Myanmar, previously excluded from America's Lower Mekong Initiative (LMI) launched by Clinton three years ago. According to a statement by Cambodian Foreign Minister Hor Namhong, "ministers welcomed Secretary Clinton's announcement of the Asia-Pacific Strategic initiative."
US President Barack Obama is "looking forward" to visiting Cambodia in November when Prime Minister Hun Sen hosts the East Asia Summit, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Thursday.
"In joining the East Asia Summit last year, the United States warmly accepted ASEAN centrality," Clinton told a meeting of East Asian foreign ministers.
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton arrives in Phnom Penh today for diplomatic and business talks with China and ASEAN’s 10 member states, but rights groups and opposition parties are counting on the state of human rights in Cambodia to be a top priority as well.
Clinton is scheduled to attend three ASEAN meetings at the Peace Palace, including the Regional Forum and the East Asia Summit Foreign Ministers’ Meeting, as part of an eight-country trip that has included Vietnam, Laos and Mongolia.
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton arrived in the Cambodian capital, Phnom Penh, Wednesday, to attend a meeting of the region's foreign ministers.
Clinton will also host a large gathering of U.S. business executives in Cambodia to discuss ways of increasing U.S. exports to the region. She is also expected to roll out what officials describe as “very substantial new resources” for nations along the Mekong River.
Earlier, Clinton became the first secretary of state to visit Laos in 57 years. She met with leaders to discuss environmental protections for the Lower Mekong River Delta and issues dating back to the Vietnam War.
At a gathering of business executives in Cambodia this week, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton plans to urge the expansion of American trade and investment across Asia, particularly in Southeast Asian nations on the periphery of China.
It has become more common these days for the nation’s chief diplomat to play a role as a business booster. But the extra attention devoted to economics is intended to send a message that Washington recognizes that it initially overemphasized the military component of its new focus on Asia, setting up more of a confrontation with China than some countries felt comfortable with.