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February 28, 2024

President's Newsletter, February 2024

Authored by
adgmin 2024 singapore
February 28, 2024

Dear Members, 

On behalf of the US-ASEAN Business Council, I want to wish you a happy, healthy, and prosperous Lunar New Year and Tet!  As we welcome the Year of the Dragon, the Council was highly engaged with exciting programming this month and much more planned for 2024.   

From January 31 to February 2, US-ABC Regional Managing Director Ambassador Brian McFeeters led a delegation of 21 U.S. companies to the 4th ASEAN Digital Ministers' (ADGMIN) Meeting in Singapore. This Mission marked the Council's largest engagement with ADGMIN since 2017, underscoring members' commitment to the region and the immense potential of ASEAN's digital economy. The delegation had productive engagements with ASEAN Digital Ministers and Senior Officials on how U.S. industry can support the region’s digitalization and shared insights on key digital trends, including AI, cybersecurity, and digital infrastructure. On February 2, the ASEAN Digital Ministers officially endorsed the ASEAN Guide on AI Governance and Ethics, paving the way for greater trust, interoperability, and policy harmonization in AI across the region.  

adgmin 2024 singapore

On January 23 - 27, US-ABC organized its first Industry Mission of the year to the 27th Meeting of ASEAN Tourism Ministers (M-ATM) in Vientiane, Lao PDR. The delegation, comprised of leading American companies from the entire travel ecosystem, had the opportunity to present key tourism insights and recommendations to the Secretary-General of ASEAN, ASEAN Tourism Ministers, and Heads of National Tourism Organizations (NTOs) during the Mission. Building on the 2024 ASEAN Tourism Forum theme of "Quality & Responsible Tourism: Sustaining ASEAN Future,” the delegation emphasized the importance of sustainable and responsible tourism practices while providing recommendations that promote resiliency and recovery of the travel and tourism industry within ASEAN.   

On February 8, we hosted the Laos Ambassador to the United States, His Excellency Sisavath Inphachanh, for a briefing and discussion on Laos’ ASEAN Chairmanship 2024 and the theme of “Enhancing Connectivity and Resilience” to ensure collective efforts in the strengthening of the ASEAN Community to seize opportunities and address present and emerging challenges effectively.  The Ambassador emphasized the need to intensify ASEAN cooperation under the three community pillars (promoting infrastructure connectivity, narrowing the development gap, promoting greater economic integration and people-to-people exchanges) and to further strengthen ASEAN’s relations with external partners while maintaining ASEAN’s relevance and ASEAN centrality in the evolving regional architecture.   

On February 15, I had the privilege of facilitating a discussion at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce that focused on the economic prospects and challenges in the Philippines ahead of the upcoming Presidential Trade and Investment Mission to Manila, scheduled from March 11 to 12. During the dialogue, senior executives from the private sector engaged with Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo, sharing their insights on the Philippines’ digital infrastructure and clean energy transition.  Of note, the dialogue also featured two senior leaders from the Department of Defense: Indo-Pacific Command (Indo-PACOM) Commander Admiral John Aquilino and Special Operations Command (SOCPAC) Commander General Bryan Fenton, emphasizing a whole-of-government approach and Secretary Raimondo’s central themes that economic security is national security. All three leaders stressed that a stable security environment promotes strong trade and investment.  For opportunities to participate in specific private sector related events during the Presidential Trade and Investment Mission to the Philippines please email Angelica Ortega (aortega@usasean.org).  

On February 23, I participated in the Asia Foundation’s Task Force on “Urgent Issues in U.S.-Southeast Asia Relations in 2024,” which will prepare recommendations for the next U.S. administration on how to effectively engage Southeast Asia.  The discussion focused on trade and investment with an emphasis on semiconductors and critical minerals; exploring sectoral agreements on digital, AI, and critical minerals; strengthening business relationships with the military and security sectors; and education and cultural ties.   

And finally, on February 28-29, Ambassador McFeeters led the Council’s largest-ever delegation to Cambodia, with 17 leading U.S. companies participating in a series of high-level government engagements and directly interacting with the new government of Prime Minister Hun Manet. The delegation had extensive discussions on ways to promote stronger business ties between the United States and Cambodia, as well as ways in which Cambodia can achieve its economic and development goals through the implementation of the “Pentagonal Strategy”. 

usabc cambodia business mission

Best regards, 

Month in Review

On January 22, our Singapore office hosted a visiting bipartisan U.S. Congressional Delegation during a trip to Singapore, Malaysia, and Vietnam to strengthen the understanding of the U.S.-ASEAN relationship within Congress. Led by Rep. Young Kim, the delegation also included Rep. Mariannette Miller-Meeks, Rep. Debbie Lesko, Rep. Jonathan Jackson, Rep. Kathy Manning, and several professional staff from the House Foreign Affairs committee. In Singapore, the delegation met with Ministry of Trade and Investment (MTI), the Economic Development Board (EDB), Ministry of Defense (MINDEF), Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA), and Deputy Prime Minister Lawrence Wong. The delegation was particularly interested in how U.S. companies and ASEAN Member States are navigating relationships with the U.S. and China, and approaching decisions in relation to critical technologies, energy, education and the workforce, and skills development.  

bipartisan U.S. Congressional Delegation


From February 13 to 15, the Council held a food & agriculture industry mission to the Philippines, where four member companies met with the heads of the Department of Agriculture, Senate Committee on Agriculture, Food, and Agrarian Reform, House Committee on Food and Agriculture, Sugar Regulatory Administration, and the Board of Investments, as well as key officials from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, and the Department of Science and Technology and attached agencies, and the Food and Drug Administration. The industry mission exemplified collaboration opportunities on food security, food safety, sustainable technologies, and capacity building between the U.S. private sector and the Philippine government.

food and agri mission ph

From February 20-25, our team in Singapore attended the 9th biennial Singapore Airshow. The airshow was the first in full scale since the pandemic and attracted a record of nearly 60,000 trade visitors – including many US-ABC members who had booths on site. US-ABC had the chance to interact with existing member companies, as well as prospective member companies who exhibited within the U.S. pavilion in the areas of secure communications, helicopters, remote sensing technology, manufacturing, and defense procurement. Our local colleagues also attended the U.S. Exhibitor’s breakfast hosted by the U.S. Embassy Singapore, which included presentations from Singapore’s Defense Science Technology Agency (DSTA) and Office for Space Technology and Industry (OSTI), and the U.S. VIP reception organized by Kallman International, where U.S. Ambassador to Singapore Jonathan Kaplan provided remarks. The U.S. pavilion included participation from over 150 American companies and was the largest international presence (nearly 1/3 of exhibition space) across the entire airshow, underscoring America’s commitment to cooperation on a wide range of regional issues including peace, and economic security. 

amb mcfeeters and sarah lessing cambodia

On February 28-29, the Council organized a delegation of seventeen leading U.S. companies for a series of high-level engagements with the government of Cambodia. Ambassador McFeeters led the delegation, the largest to Cambodia in the Council’s history, with William Lafferrandre, Senior Business Development Advisor of ConocoPhillips and Chair of the Council’s Cambodia Committee.  The mission offered a valuable platform for the American private sector to directly engage with the new government of Prime Minister Hun Manet, which assumed power in August 2023. The delegation had extensive discussions with the government on ways to promote stronger business ties between the United States and Cambodia, as well as ways in which Cambodia can achieve its economic and development goals through the implementation of its “Pentagonal Strategy.”  During the mission, the delegation met with Prime Minister Hun Manet and key members of his economic cabinet including: Deputy Prime Minister and First Vice-Chairman of the Cambodian Investment Board Sun Chanthol; Senior Minister Sok Siphana; National Bank of Cambodia Governor Chea Serey; Minister of Posts and Telecommunications Chea Vandeth; Minister of Tourism Sok Soken; Minister of Industry, Science, Technology and Innovation Hem Vanndy; Minister of Health Chheang Ra; Minister of Mines and Energy Keo Rottanak, among others.  Companies who participated in the mission include ConocoPhillips, Ford, Abbott, ADM, Chevron, Estée Lauder Companies, FedEx Express, Jhpiego, Manulife, Mastercard, Meta, Pfizer, Philip Morris International, RMA Group, Roche, Tilleke & Gibbins, and Visa. 

Finally, with the fourth-largest market in the world, the third-largest democracy, and the largest economy in the ASEAN, Indonesia's February 14 election result impacts the bilateral and regional economic ecosystem. With a population of approximately 270 million and more than 72% voter turnout, Indonesia has once again peacefully held the largest single-day election in the world - a significant milestone for democracy. Noting the magnitude of this election, as a part of our Indonesia 2024 Election Series, the Council has organized a Virtual Post-Election Political and Economic Briefing with Vriens & Partner and CSIS. This will be followed by a Virtual Post-Election Discussion with Amb. Rosan Roeslani as the winning team’s chairman, on March, 21 at 9:00 am ET. In addition, the Council is organizing an in-person Briefing in Washington DC with Adam Schwarz (date TBC). Please contact Mega Valentina (mega@usasean.org) for more details.

Delegations and Envoys

Senior Official for Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Ambassador Matt Murray traveled to Kuala Lumpur Feb 14-17 and Singapore Feb 17-21 to meet government counterparts and the American business community and highlight broad U.S. economic engagement with the region as outlined in the Indo-Pacific Strategy Prosperity pillar.  

Assistant Secretary for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Daniel J. Kritenbrink is traveling to Singapore, Cambodia, Thailand, Vietnam, and Brunei from February 23 to March 4 to underscore the United States’ strong and enduring commitment to its allies and partners in Southeast Asia. 

Upcoming Events
Please find the latest version of the Council's 2024 Events Calendar here.

From March 11 - 15, Ambassador McFeeters will be in Washington, D.C., and looks forward to meeting US-based members at our D.C. office. Members interested in meeting with Amb. McFeeters in Washington DC can contact Andrew Koch (akoch@usasean.org) to help arrange a suitable meeting time.  

From March 19-21, Ambassador Ted Osius will lead the 2024 Senior Executive Business Mission to Vietnam. This mission holds special significance as it follows the historic elevation of United States-Vietnam relations to a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership, opening many new and exciting doors for both of our countries with more avenues for investment and cooperation. In conjunction with the mission, we will host a CSR Exhibition and Gala Dinner in Hanoi on March 19th to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the US-ASEAN Business Council. 

In conjunction with this mission, on March 18 the Council is organizing defense and security procurement workshops with Vietnam’s Ministries of National Defense and Public Security (MND and MPS) as these powerful ministries explore upgrading their mostly legacy Russian inventory with high quality equipment and technology from new international companies.   

From April 3-5, the Council is organizing the 2024 Mission to the ASEAN Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors Meeting (AFMGM) in Luang Prabang, Laos. This year's mission aims to convey the Council’s robust support for Laos ASEAN Chairmanship, reaffirm our commitment to strengthening financial stability, and bolstering the US’ presence in ASEAN financial services liberalization efforts. Members are encouraged to register for the first planning call here. Please contact Christine (cwan@usasean.org) and Bella (safifa@usasean.org), for more information. 

From April 9-10, the Council will organize its annual Health & Life Sciences Industry Mission to Vietnam. This mission is an opportunity for members to highlight health-related policy recommendations, especially regarding new regulations and their implementation, and hear the Vietnamese government’s priorities and policies in the healthcare sector. During the mission, the Council and its members will also continue implementing its MOUs with the Vietnam Ministry of Health and Vietnam Social Security Agency. For more information, please contact Gretchen Kunze at gkunze@usasean.org. 

Comings and Goings at the Council

There were no departures or new arrivals this month.

Membership Section

On Thursday, March 7, the Council will host its inaugural D.C. Happy Hour Networking Event at McCormick & Schmick's from 5:00 pm - 7:00 pm. This gathering marks the beginning of a series of happy hours we plan to host throughout 2024, inspired by our members' feedback and the desire to promote more engagements within our community. Please reach out to Andrew Koch (akoch@usasean.org) for more information. 

On February 13, The Council hosted its Chairman's Council Advisory Group (CCAG) meeting for Chairman's Council members. The Council used this time to review outcomes from the recent Board of Directors Meeting and allow members to share feedback on the value proposition of the Council. The Chairman's Council Advisory Group (CCAG) is a group of individuals designated by each of the US-ASEAN Business Council's member companies in good standing at the Chairman's Council level. CCAG provides a vehicle for counsel and advice to the US-ASEAN Business Council on strategic direction and priorities, especially those of a broader, more long-term nature; emerging or cross-cutting issues and how the Council might deal with them; policy positions; and operational considerations of the Council.  We welcome our Chairman's Council members to take full advantage of this benefit! Please get in touch with Andrew Koch (akoch@usasean.org) or Sarah Lessing (slessing@usasean.org) for more information. 

Please note that the membership team will continue its outreach to your teams to schedule a Q1 call to understand your goals and priorities in ASEAN for 2024, discuss our upcoming programming, to share our 2024 workplan(s) within committees of interest to you, confirm primary and billing contacts, and address any other matters and share feedback to help us support you better.  We look forward to meeting with you soon and value your continued support of the Council's work.  

As a reminder, below are your points of contact from the membership team. 

In the D.C. office:  

Andrew Koch, Director of Membership U.S., akoch@usasean.org  

Mia Venezia, Associate for Membership and Business Development, mvenezia@usasean.org   

In the Singapore and Kuala Lumpur offices:  

Sarah Lessing, Director of Membership – Asia, slessing@usasean.org  

Rahul Rai, Associate – Health & Life Sciences, Membership, rrai@usasean.org  

Emma Tabatabai, Senior Country Representative, emma@usasean.org   

Council in the Press

Ambassador Osius Leads Carnegie Discussion on U.S.-Vietnam Relationship
Association Letter on the WTO E-Commerce Moratorium - U.S. Chamber of Commerce
ASEAN USAID-IGNITE Launch Promotes MSME Capacity Development in Indonesia
Cambodia’s Tourism Minister Meets ASEAN Counterparts - Khmer Times
Deepening Engagement Through ASEAN-USAID IGNITE, PROSPECT, API Projects - ASEAN.org  (also published at USMission.gov)
After a Major Upgrade, the US Military Wants to Take Things Further With Vietnam – The Diplomat
4th ASEAN Digital Ministers’ Meeting: Enhancing Digital Trade and Growth in Southeast Asia - Crowell & Moring LLP
Nghiên cứu và chuyển giao công nghệ về vi mạch là thách thức lớn đối với GV - Giáo dục Việt Nam
Government Promotes Cross-Border Tourism in the 5 ASEAN Countries - Wochenblitz
The Promise of Diplomacy with Former Ambassador to Vietnam Ted Osius
Enhancing Digital Trade And Growth In Southeast Asia - Mondaq
USABC President optimistic about US-Vietnam cooperation potential - Vietnam Plus
Ambassador Osius Optimistic about the potential for Vietnam-US cooperation in 2024 - Vietnam.vn
Optimism about US-Vietnam cooperation in 2024 - Bao An Giang
Optimistic about the potential of Vietnam-US cooperation in 2024 - Viet Giai Tri
Southeast Asia Becoming Hub for Crypto, Web3, AI - Crypto Times


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