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December 23, 2023

President's Newsletter, December 2023

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dec 2023 newsletter
December 23, 2023

Dear Members, 
As we reach the end of 2023 and prepare for the holidays, I am delighted to reflect on a year that has been nothing short of extraordinary for the Council. This year has been marked by numerous milestones and significant achievements. 

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Throughout the year, we orchestrated record-breaking trade missions, including the largest-ever U.S. Business Delegation to Hanoi in March, celebrating the 10th anniversary of the U.S.-Vietnam Comprehensive Partnership. This was closely followed by our largest business mission to the Philippines, further solidifying our regional influence and presence. Our engagements with ASEAN leaders were particularly noteworthy, including hosting Philippine President Marcos at Blair House and meeting Indonesian President Joko Widodo, plus high-profile interactions with the leaders of Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia and Cambodia at the United Nations General Assembly in New York. The resumption of Ambassador Tours, connecting U.S. and ASEAN ambassadors with our member companies' innovation centers across various U.S. cities, further enhanced our education and outreach efforts. 

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In December we were proud to host an inaugural Digital Economy Mission to Vietnam, fostering vital technology and digital cooperation, led by Ambassador Brian McFeeters and Mr. Seow Hiong Goh; this mission signaled a jump forward in our engagement with Vietnam's key ministries. 

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In December, our Board of Directors chose Mr. Jeffrey Perlman as the Council’s new Chairman and brought to the forefront key commercial priorities for 2024. These include a strong focus on the digital economy, with particular emphasis on expanding in areas like semiconductors, cybersecurity, AI, electronic payments, and e-commerce. In the energy sector, our directors highlighted opportunities in LNG, carbon capture, utilization and storage, renewables, and the decarbonization of the transportation industry. Given ASEAN's positive GDP growth outlook for 2024, we are also looking at amplifying our efforts in healthcare, consumer products, financial services, food & agriculture, and travel & tourism – all sectors poised for significant expansion. 
Looking ahead to Q1 2024, we have a robust lineup of programs and missions to further our agenda in the region: 

  • ASEAN Tourism Ministers' Meeting in Vientiane (January 22-27) 
  • ASEAN Digital Ministers' Meeting in Singapore (January 30-February 1) 
  • Cambodia Business Mission in Phnom Penh (Date to be confirmed) 
  • Vietnam Business Mission in Hanoi (March 19-21) with Defense Workshop (March 18) 
  • HLS Mission to Vietnam in Hanoi (March 21-22) 

These events provide ample opportunities for our members to engage, influence, and collaborate across various sectors and nations within the ASEAN region. 
These accomplishments throughout the year, particularly in December, underline our collective dedication to enhancing U.S.-ASEAN relations. Your support has been instrumental in these successes, and as we look towards 2024, we are eager to continue strengthening business ties to Southeast Asia. 
I wish you a joyful holiday season and a new year filled with opportunities. 
Best regards, 
Ted Osius

Month in Review

Ambassador Brian McFeeters Meets with Key Philippine Officials  
From November 28 to December 1, the Council, through Amb. Brian McFeeters (ret), visited with key Philippine government officials, including House Speaker Martin Romualdez, Executive Secretary Lucas Bersamin, Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas Governor Eli Remolona, Jr., and U.S. Ambassador to the Philippines, Amb. MaryKay Carlson. This was Amb. McFeeters' maiden visit to Manila as the Council's Senior Vice President and Regional Managing Director. The discussions deepened dialogues between the Council and the government, increasing cooperation and further identifying collaborative opportunities to boost trade and investments in the country.  
SME Workshop in the Philippines  
On November 29, the Council, in cooperation with the Department of Trade and Industry Philippines – Bureau of SME Development (DTI - BSMED) and Philippines Trade Training Center – Global MSME Academy (PTTC-GMEA) organized a capacity-building workshop for Filipino SMEs with the theme of "Catalyzing Success in the Global Business Arena for Filipino SMEs in the Digital Economy." The workshop was attended by 150 Filipino SMEs and stakeholders and featured GoNegosyo, USAID-SPEED, National Development Company, and Small Business Corporation speakers. Visa and Amazon Global Selling also supported the workshop and became the last workshop of the SME Workshop Series: Building Resiliency for ASEAN SMEs for 2023.  
Winter Board Meeting – A Warm Welcome to new Chairman Jeff Perlman and Twelve Directors; Special Guest Speaker, Ambassador Robert B. Zoellick  
Twenty one Directors met in person and virtually on December 5 in Washington, DC., and elected Jeffrey David Perlman, President, Warburg Pincus and member of the firm's executive management group, as the Council's new Chairman. The Board also Dr. Leslie Mancuso as the new second Vice Chair and twelve new directors: Jannik Termansen, 3M, Chris Colahan, AIG, Catherine Simmons, Citi, Paul McNamee, Chubb, Michaela Browning, Google, Stephen Braim, IBM, Dr. Leslie Mancuso, Jhpiego, Derek Wilkinson, Odgers Berndtson, Mike Pergine, Organon, Becky Fraser, Qualcomm, Jeff Perlman, Warburg Pincus, John Graham, Zuellig Pharmaceutical bringing the total number of directors to 34. With great regret, the Board bid farewell and thanked long-serving directors Amol Gupte, Citi, Khun Vicki Wisadkosin, Ford, and Ari Sarkar, Mastercard, and recognized their excellent support and stewardship of the Council. Our exceptional guest speaker was the honorable Ambassador Robert B. Zoellick, past President of the World Bank, former USTR, former Deputy Secretary of State, and current Board member of Robin Hood, the Peterson Institute, Mercy Corps, trustee World Wildlife Fund, and current chair of the Temasek Americas Advisory Panel who spoke about the future of U.S., China, and ASEAN trade relations under Chatham House rules.  
COP28 Clean Energy Initiatives by Vietnam and Cambodia 
At COP28 in Dubai, Vietnam and Cambodia announced significant clean energy projects, signaling a solid commitment to sustainable energy transitions. Vietnam revealed plans to detail its spending strategy for a substantial US$15.5 billion, funded by the Just Energy Transition Partnership (JETP), to integrate renewables to constitute 47% of its power mix by 2030. This announcement aligns with Vietnam's earlier commitment to a national energy plan that phases out coal dependency and halts new coal-fired plants post-2030. Concurrently, Cambodia, under Prime Minister Hun Manet, has discarded a US$1.5 billion coal-fired power project in favor of a landmark liquid natural gas (LNG) terminal, Cambodia's first. This pivot from coal to LNG is a part of Cambodia's broader goal to achieve 70% clean energy generation by 2030, up from 52% in 2022, through new solar, wind, and hydro projects. These initiatives by Vietnam and Cambodia reflect their dedication to environmental stewardship and mark a significant shift in Southeast Asia's energy landscape. 
Roundtable with H.E. Edgard Kagan, U.S. Ambassador to Malaysia 
On December 14, the Council, in cooperation with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, hosted an exclusive in-person roundtable with the new Ambassador of the United States to Malaysia, the Hon. Edgard Kagan. With a relatively short timeline, Amb. Kagan was confirmed on November 8 and was sworn in on December 12. Prior to him leaving for Kuala Lumpur on December 17, members were able to share private sector insights regarding the current business landscape in Malaysia to help set the groundwork for fruitful partnerships throughout his ambassadorship. 
We look forward to engaging with him once he settles down in Kuala Lumpur.  
2023 Digital Economy Mission to Vietnam 
The Council organized its first Digital Economy Mission to Vietnam from December 12 to 14, 2023. The delegation comprised eight leading American companies in innovation and technology. The mission aimed to bolster technology and digital cooperation relations following the upgrade to a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership between the U.S. and Vietnam. During the mission, delegates engaged in fruitful discussions with several key ministries, including the Ministry of Information and Communications, the Ministry of Public Security, the Ministry of Science and Technology, and the Ministry of Industry and Trade. A key event was a roundtable on AI and Emerging Technologies, which officials from various Vietnamese government agencies attended. 

Upcoming Events
Please find the most updated version of the Council's 2023 Events Calendar here.

ASEAN Tourism Ministers Meeting 
The Council will organize the 2024 Mission to the 27th Meeting of ASEAN Tourism Ministers (27th M-ATM). This Mission will take place on the sidelines of the annual ASEAN Tourism Forum (ATF), scheduled for January 22 – 27 at the Landmark Mekong Riverside Hotel in Vientiane, Lao PDR. The host country will present the theme "Quality and Responsible Tourism: Sustaining ASEAN Future." The Council will have the chance to present the industry's recommendations during the consultation sessions with the ASEAN Tourism Ministers (M-ATM) and the Heads of National Tourism Organizations (NTOs). Our mailing list has sent an official invitation for members to register for this Mission. For any questions, please get in touch with Ben (bdjanuar@usasean.org) and Pimploy (pimploy@usasean.org)  
US-ASEAN Virtual Workshop on Digital Economy Standards and Conformity Assessment  
Continuing the Council's advocacy efforts to support cybersecurity standards and best practices for digital trade in ASEAN, the Council will participate in the US-ASEAN Virtual Workshop on Digital Economy Standards and Conformity Assessment on January 18, 2024, organized by the U.S. Department of Commerce. This workshop aims to provide key ASEAN member states' officials and standards bodies, through the ASEAN Coordinating Committee on Standards and Quality and the Digital Trade Standards and Conformance Working Group (DTSCWG), with capacity building and the sharing of best practices on conformity assessment for artificial intelligence applications, certification of information security management systems for cloud service providers, information security controls for generic cloud services, and measures for protecting privacy in the cloud. This workshop follows the Council's engagement during the U.S. and DTSCWG Dialogue Session at the 11th DTSCWG Meeting on November 23, 2023. Furthermore, it follows the Council's success as ASEAN agrees to adopt and harmonize standards ISO/IEC 27001/2 on Information Security, Cybersecurity, and Privacy Protection—a recommendation made through the Council's previous advocacy efforts.  
4th ASEAN Digital Ministers Meeting ADGMM (January)  
From January 30 to February 2, 2024, the Council will hold its flagship ICT business mission to the 4th ASEAN Digital Ministers Meeting (ADGMIN) in Singapore. Under the theme, "Building Inclusive and Trusted Digital Ecosystems," of the 4th ADGMIN, the Council will organize plenary and bilateral engagements with the ASEAN Digital Ministers and other key stakeholders. The delegation will seek to engage in dialogue on key ASEAN initiatives, including the ASEAN Guide on AI Governance and Ethics, progress towards the ASEAN Digital Economy Framework Agreement, and cybersecurity-related initiatives.  
2024 SME Program Sponsorship Invitation  
The Council would like to invite our member companies to participate in the 2024 SME Program. The SME Program in 2024 aims to sustain and expand ASEAN MSMEs' capabilities under the theme of "Empowering ASEAN MSMEs: Advancing Inclusion, Sustainability, and Digital Innovation." Key activities will be part of the 2024 SME Work Plan, including 1) Optimization of the ASEAN SME Academy 2.0 and 2) SME Workshop Series: Inclusive, Green, and Innovative ASEAN MSMEs. For more information, please get in touch with Mario Masaya (mmasaya@usasean.org) and Bella Afifa (safifa@usasean.org).  
Digital Economic Framework Agreement (DEFA) Workshop Series  
As ASEAN has launched and initiated negotiations to develop a regional Digital Economic Framework Agreement (DEFA), the Council is advocating for ASEAN governments to establish a rules-based, high-standard DEFA. This agreement should allow the free flow of cross-border data, prevent data localization, enhance digital payment interoperability, and harmonize rules to facilitate e-commerce and digital trade. Therefore, with the endorsement from the ASEAN Economic Ministers and the U.S. Trade Representative, the Council will organize capacity-building support activities for DEFA negotiators to help understand the critical elements of a digital ecosystem and how they impact various industries. The DEFA Workshop Series 2024 will consist of two capacity-building workshops with DEFA negotiators and a policy retreat, delving deeply into key policy areas for a DEFA, among others. To express interest or further questions, please get in touch with Mario Masaya (mmasaya@usasean.org) and Marcella Suwandhi (msuwandhi@usasean.org) before January 19, 2024.  
ASEAN Cybersecurity Assessment Model (ACAM)  
In January 2024, the Council will table our regional report on ASEAN's cybersecurity maturity and readiness at the 4th ASEAN Digital Senior Officials Meeting (30-31 January 2024). The report is being developed using the Council's ASEAN Cybersecurity Assessment Model (ACAM), endorsed at the 2ndADGSOM in October 2022. As part of developing the regional report, we also commissioned individual country reports of the ten AMS (excluding Timor-Leste). Post-ADGSOM 2024, we hope to embark on bilateral deep dives with 2-3 ASEAN member states, using the ACAM reports as reference. We welcome members' interest in supporting this project in 2024. Please get in touch with Mario (mmasaya@usasean.org) and Jileen (jyong@usasean.org) for sponsorship queries. 

Comings and Goings

Welcome to Major Charles Casey from the Pentagon via the U.S. Department of Defense Skillbridge Program: https://skillbridge.osd.mil/program-overview.htm  

Maj. Casey will be the new Special Assistant to the President & CEO and Manager of the Aerospace and Defense Industry program, supporting Deputy Director Jack Myint’s efforts on the 2024 March Vietnam Defense Workshop and the November IndoDefense Mission. 

Member Survey Reminder

As a reminder, we highly value your feedback at the US-ASEAN Business Council and kindly ask you to complete the emailed annual Member Survey. This survey will take 5-10 minutes of your time and is vital for us to capture your insights, which are essential in improving our services for the coming year. Please submit your responses by the January 12th deadline so your voice can be part of our continuous improvement journey. Thank you for your ongoing support and active participation. You can access the survey using the link here.

Please get in touch with Andrew Koch (akoch@usasean.org) or Sarah Lessing (slessing@usasean.org) with any questions.  

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