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March 31, 2024

President's Newsletter, March 2024

Authored by
PTIM newsletter
March 31, 2024

Dear Members, 

March was truly an exciting month filled with high impact programming that moved the needle for U.S. business interests in Southeast Asia.

From March 11-12, Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo led a delegation of senior executives from 22 U.S. companies and non-profit organizations on a first-of-its kind Presidential Trade and Investment Mission to the Philippines.  Representing the Council, I proudly participated in this mission, aimed at advancing economic ties between the United States and one of our oldest allies. The delegates - almost half of which are Council members - announced over $1 billion USD of recently completed or anticipated investments that will create opportunities for an estimated 20 million Filipinos. During the mission, delegates met with key officials from the Philippine Government and local firms and business organizations led by the President’s Private Sector Advisory Council (PSAC). During these meetings, the U.S. private sector emphasized its readiness to contribute to the development of unprecedented economic opportunities and partnerships between both countries through strategic collaborations and innovative avenues for trade and investments.  ance and Ethics, paving the way for greater trust, interoperability, and policy harmonization in AI across the region.  

PTIM newsletter

From March 18-21, the Council led an historic delegation of 50 leading U.S. companies to Hanoi for our 2024 business mission to Vietnam.  This year’s mission marked two important occasions, coming after the historic elevation of U.S.-Vietnam relations to a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership and coinciding with the 40th anniversary of the US-ASEAN Business Council.  The delegation met with government officials and key stakeholders across multiple ministries and agencies, including Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh and Chairman of the National Assembly Vuong Dinh Hue, among many others. This year's mission included unprecedented participation by the U.S. government, including U.S. Ambassador to Vietnam Marc Knapper, President and Chair of the U.S. Export-Import Bank Reta Jo Lewis, Department of State Special Representative for Commercial and Business Affairs Sarah Morgenthau, and Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for South and Southeast Asia Lindsey Ford.  This sent a strong signal that the U.S. government and business community are closely aligned in our commitment to bringing high quality trade and investment to Vietnam and the region. 

Vietnam mission newsletter image

On March 20, Indonesia officially announced Defense Minister Prabowo Subianto and Surakarta Mayor Gibran Rakabuming Raka as the next president and vice president. I spoke with the President-elect on February 14, congratulating him on his election win (based on the quick count), and followed up with a letter to both incoming leaders celebrating Indonesia’s peaceful electoral processes.  Commemorating the anniversary of U.S.-Indonesia diplomatic relations this year, we reconfirmed the U.S. private sector’s commitment to strengthening relations, supporting the Prabowo-Gibran vision of making Indonesia a prosperous nation, and asked to visit the new president and his administration during our Business Mission to Indonesia this December.  

In April, we will continue our drumbeat of high impact programming to help advance U.S. business interests in the region, including hosting a business forum with Philippines President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. and separate roundtable luncheons with Vietnamese Deputy Prime Minister Le Minh Khai and Malaysia's Minister of Finance II, H.E. Datuk Seri Amir Hamzah Azizan. 

Best regards, 

Month in Review

On the sidelines of the Presidential Trade and Investment Mission to the Philippines (PTIM), on March 13 Ambassador Osius met with 18 member companies representing various industries in the Philippines Committee. The members reported positive progress from the Council’s advocacy initiatives and mission engagements, including the inclusion of a key amendment on creditable withholding tax in the House-approved CREATE More bill, the ongoing consultation by Department of Agriculture on a 60-year old Rice and Corn Law, inclusion of priority medicines in the PhilHealth Konsulta package, first time inclusion by the DOH of hepatitis B screening, vaccination, and treatment in its local health promotion strategies, and FDA’s facilitation of a member-company’s exports to China.  
During the PTIM, the Council co-hosted a breakfast reception for Secretary Raimondo and the delegates and also co-organized energy and industry roundtables.  In these events, Energy Secretary Raphael Lotilla, Transportation Undersecretary Timothy John Batan, U.S. Director of the Asian Development Bank Ambassador Chantale Wong, and other delegates and representatives from the Philippine Government, international organizations, and the private sector discussed opportunities to invest further in these sectors.  This mission strengthened economic ties, enhanced investment opportunities, and created platforms for strategic dialogues.  

PTIM Roundtable newsletter image

In Vietnam, our business mission also included a second annual defense procurement workshop with the Ministry of National Defense and our first-ever security procurement workshop with the Ministry of Public Security.  Previously inaccessible to most U.S. businesses, these ministries conveyed their strong desire to explore the potential for American equipment as they modernize their legacy inventories and divest from their historic dependence on Russian equipment.  To commemorate our 40th anniversary, the Council also hosted a Gala Dinner and CRS Exhibition during the mission, with over 200 people attending.  
During the mission, Vietnam’s National Assembly accepted President Vo Van Thuong’s resignation and appointed Vice President Vo Thi Anh Xuan as Acting President, marking the second President to resign within little more than a year.  While this raised initial questions about political uncertainty and the potential impact on international relations, Vietnam’s top leadership quickly assured the business community of its determination to forge ahead with ambitious reforms, pursue economic growth, and set out a forward-leaning trade and investment agenda. 
Following a productive regional strategic dialogue in Kuala Lumpur, Ambassador Osius and Regional Managing Director Ambassador Brian McFeeters met with key Malaysian officials from the Prime Minister’s Office and Ministry of Investment, Trade and Industry and led a roundtable discussion with key members of the Council’s Malaysia Committee.
Separately, this month the Council officially launched Phase Two of our Local Content Requirement (LCR) Engagement Series.  This 8-month program was initiated after a previous study on the impact of LCR policies on the Indonesian economy written by US-ABC and CSIS Indonesia. The program commenced with a Roundtable Dialogue on March 7, conducted in partnership with U.S. Embassy Jakarta and USTDA under the theme "Charting Indonesia’s Investment and Growth: Opportunities, Strategies, and Local Content Requirement.” With 90 attendees, this event gathered stakeholders and government officials from the Ministry of Industry, Ministry of Communications and Informatics, and Ministry of Health, among others, fostering direct exchanges of insights and recommendations. In its current form, this initiative aims to move the conversation on LCR policy reform in Indonesia specifically and ASEAN more broadly. With reforms of how LCR policies are implemented, there is an opportunity to spur investment growth rather than hamper it and improve Indonesia’s position in the global supply chain.  
From March 11-15, Ambassador McFeeters visited Washington, D.C. to meet the Council's D.C.-based members. During his visit he hosted a breakfast roundtable, sharing insights from his first five months and eight business missions. Members highlighted key regional policy priorities, providing direct feedback the Council will use to improve our advocacy efforts.
We are pleased to announce Kolin Low, the UL Regional Standards Director, as the new vice chair of the ASEAN Committee. Kolin has been actively engaged in driving strategic and tactical initiatives for the Standards Subcommittee for several years.
And finally, after eight years as ASEAN’s top online learning platform for MSMEs, the ASEAN SME Academy website will temporarily go offline on April 1.  This development is part of the Council’s strategic evolution in light of the shift from remote learning to in-person activities based on the need to develop a more inclusive and sustainable program for ASEAN MSMEs to make them more competitive. The learning materials remain 100% intact but will be unavailable to users as they are stored offline. The Council continues to seek sponsorship from our members for its quarterly workshops and to work with ASEAN stakeholders to fulfill our mission of supporting small businesses in Southeast Asia through our in-person SME empowerment activities.  

Delegations and Envoys

Assistant Secretary for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Daniel J. Kritenbrink traveled to Singapore, Cambodia, Thailand, Vietnam, and Brunei from February 23-March 4 to underscore the United States’ strong and enduring commitment to its allies and partners in Southeast Asia.  The 6th U.S.-Singapore Strategic Partnership Dialogue on February 27 underscored the ongoing bilateral strategic partnership between Singapore and the United States.  

Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense (PDASD) for Indo-Pacific Security Affairs Jed Royal concluded his visit to Cambodia, Thailand, and Brunei on March 4 after a series of productive defense engagements.  
U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo led the Presidential Trade and Investment Mission to the Philippines and led the President’s Export Council on a fact-finding trip to Thailand from March 11-14.  
Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken met with Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. and Secretary of Foreign Affairs Enrique Manalo in Manila on March 19.  
Deputy Secretary of State Kurt Campbell met with Japanese Vice Foreign Minister Okano Masataka and Philippine Undersecretary Ma. Theresa P. Lazaro in Tokyo on March 21 to prepare for the trilateral Summit on April 11.  

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

From April 3-5, the Council will lead a Mission to the 11th ASEAN Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors Meeting (AFMGM) in Luang Prabang, Laos. This year’s mission aims to support Laos’ ASEAN Chairmanship under the theme “ASEAN: Enhancing Connectivity and Resilience,” reaffirm our commitment to strengthening financial stability, and bolster U.S. presence in ASEAN financial services liberalization efforts. A whitepaper titled “Strengthening Connectivity for Resilient Financial Systems in Southeast Asia” will be presented at the 2024 AFMGM, reflecting the support of U.S. businesses for ASEAN.  Please contact Christine Wan (cwan@usasean.org) and Salsabil Afifa (safifa@usasean.org) for more information.  
On April 4, the Council and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce will jointly organize an Executive Luncheon with Vietnamese Deputy Prime Minister Le Minh Khai during his visit to Washington, D.C.  The U.S.-Vietnam relationship has broadened and deepened in recent years, signified by the elevation of the relationship to a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership during President Biden’s visit to Vietnam last September. This event will provide insights into the evolving landscape of economic relations and is a unique opportunity for Chairman’s Council members to engage DPM Khai and the senior officials accompanying him on opportunities for enhanced collaboration and investment. 
On April 8, the Council will host a Farewell Luncheon at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington, D.C. for H.E. Tanee Sangrat, Ambassador of the Kingdom of Thailand to the United States. Since his tenure began in November 2022, Ambassador Tanee has significantly contributed to strengthening U.S.-Thailand relations, serving as a key partner to the Council and its members by enhancing trade and investment opportunities. We invite you to join U.S. government officials and key stakeholders in honoring Ambassador Tanee's service and wishing him success in his future endeavors. Please contact Pimploy Vivatanapaiboonlap at pimploy@usasean.org for more information.  
On April 12, the Council and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce will co-host a business forum with President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. during his visit to the United States for the first trilateral U.S.-Japan-Philippines leaders’ summit. President Marcos and senior officials from economic and defense agencies will hold discussions with President Biden and other senior USG officials to strengthen trade and investment ties and defense collaboration. For sponsorship opportunities and individual tickets please contact Angelica Ortega (aortega@usasean.org).  
On April 18, the Council will host a roundtable luncheon with Malaysia’s Minister of Finance II, H.E. Datuk Seri Amir Hamzah Azizan, who was appointed by Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim in December 2023. With years of prior experience in the country's finance and energy industries, Minister Azizan is now one of Malaysia’s key economic policymakers supporting the growth of the public and private sectors. As a follow up to the Council's mission to the ASEAN Finance Minister and Bank Governor Meetings (AFMGM) in Laos, this Roundtable will present an opportunity for a more in-depth discussion on critical aspects of Malaysia’s evolving economic policy landscape in areas related to sustainable infrastructure financing, green investment, and other priorities under the Madani Economy Framework and Industrial Master Plan 2030. The Minister may also elaborate on his efforts to accelerate ongoing government reforms, expand investment, and reduce the government’s deficit. As Malaysia prepares to take over the ASEAN chairmanship at the end of this year, this event presents an opportunity for members to gain insights into Malaysia's priorities for regional cooperation and to share relevant ideas on how the US business community can contribute to the success of Malaysia's 2025 ASEAN Chairmanship.  
On April 18, Chief Policy Officer Marc P. Mealy will participate in the second meeting of the Task Force on U.S.-Southeast Asia Relations for 2024, co-chaired by Ambassador Scot Marciel, the Oksenberg-Rohlen Fellow at Stanford University’s Shorenstein Asia Pacific Research Center, and Senior Director of the Asia Foundation’s International Relations Programs John Brandon.  The Council will help shape a report on the future of U.S.-Southeast Asian relations, with a focus on strengthening U.S. economic and trade policies.  Related, Ted and Marc co-authored an article, “Southeast Asia’s Growing Importance to Global Trade,” published in the Jerusalem Strategic Tribune.
From April 22-26, the Council will host its annual U.S. Ambassadors' Tour in New York, New York, and Chicago, Illinois, to mark its 40th anniversary. The tour will enhance understanding of ASEAN's political and economic importance to the United States, highlight the relationships among the ten ASEAN nations, and provide ambassadors with insights into the challenges and opportunities facing U.S. businesses in Southeast Asia, ultimately helping them to be more effective advocates for U.S. business interests in the region.  Confirmed ambassadors participating in the tour include: U.S. Ambassador to the Philippines MaryKay Carlson, U.S. Ambassador to Malaysia Edgard Kagan, U.S. Ambassador to Vietnam Marc Knapper, and U.S. Ambassador to Laos Heather Variava.  The ambassadors will meet with member companies and connect with influential organizations including the Asia Society, the Council on Foreign Relations, NYU Stern, World Business Chicago, the Obama Foundation, the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, and local governments in New York and Chicago.  
Looking beyond April, from May 7-10, the Council will conduct our Business Mission to Malaysia, where we will discuss how U.S. businesses can collaborate on the digital economy, semiconductor sector, energy transition, healthcare services, tourism industry, SME development, as well as support the government’s MADANI and NIMP policies.  Following directly from the Mission in Peninsular Malaysia, we will lead an inaugural Mission to East Malaysia from May 13-16 to meet with the Premiers and state governments of Sabah and Sarawak, to explore their economic and entrepreneurship development potentials.  Please contact Mega Valentina (mega@usasean.org) or Emma Tabatabai (emma@usasean.org) for more information.
From May 20-23 the Council will conduct our Business Mission to the Philippines in conjunction with other in-market events, including the USTDA-led Indo-Pacific Business Forum and the Council-led Local Government Unit Outreach. Building on the historic momentum in U.S.-Philippines relations anchored by the recent PTIM, this year’s business mission will focus on “Promoting Economic Expansion through Collaborative and Sustainable Partnerships.” The mission will provide a platform for participants to engage with Philippine government officials in the following key areas: investment opportunities, public-private partnerships, ease of doing business, and human capital development. Please contact Angelica Ortega (aortega@usasean.org) and Angelica Takashima (atakashima@usasean.org) for more information.
On May 23 in conjunction with our business mission, the Council will organize our first Philippines Local Government Outreach to bridge the gap between national strategies and localized implementation by fostering direct engagement between the member companies, local governments, and key government agencies in Metro Manila. This outreach will  institutionalize a working partnership between the Council and the official federation of local government executives and explore B2G opportunities and collaboration projects with local governments. Please contact Angelica Takashima (atakashima@usasean.org) and Cath Salazar (csalazar@usasean.org) for more information.
And on June 4-5, the Council will hold its annual business mission to the 33rd Meeting of the ASEAN Directors-General of Customs in Phu Quoc, Vietnam.  A formal invitation with more details will be sent in the coming time.  Please contact Marcella Suwandhi (msuwandhi@usasean.org) and Angelica Ortega (aortega@usasean.org) for more information.

Comings and Goings at the Council

Yasmine Rahmaan, Executive Assistant for the President & CEO, has departed the Council to pursue other opportunities. We greatly appreciate her excellent work coordinating complex itineraries and workflows over the past two years.  

Membership Section

We're grateful to all members who met with us in Q1 to share their regional priorities, review upcoming Council programming, and update contacts in our system. These discussions are invaluable in shaping our services to meet your needs better.  
Thank you to everyone who attended the Council's networking happy hour at McCormick and Schmick's this month. It was an excellent opportunity for members to connect with Council staff, other members, and officials from ASEAN Embassies in D.C. Your participation made the event a success, and we look forward to fostering more of these valuable connections. We plan to host the next happy hour in May - stay tuned for more information.  
We're also thrilled that Workday has joined the ICT Committee leadership as Vice Chair. With its rich background and expertise in digital skilling and talent development, we look forward to Workday’s valuable insights and guidance for the Committee.
If you still need to meet with our team or wish to schedule another meeting, please contact Membership Director Andrew Koch in the U.S. (akoch@usasean.org) or Sarah Lessing (slessing@usasean.org) in Singapore. We're always here to listen and assist.  
Looking ahead to Q2, our team will contact you with more information on how to best utilize the Council's systems, including the member hub and our new website. These tools are designed to enhance your experience and engagement with our community. Please stay tuned for these updates.  
Lastly, we kindly remind members to please settle any outstanding membership dues. It's crucial to maintain your account in good standing to avoid interruption in access to Council services. As per our policy, access may be suspended for dues delinquent for more than six months. We appreciate your prompt attention to this matter and are here to support you should you have any questions or concerns regarding your membership status. 
Thank you for your continued support and partnership. We look forward to another productive quarter!  
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

This month, the Council received extensive media coverage, with more than 100 articles from dozens of regional and global media outlets covering our missions to Cambodia and Vietnam, our participation in the Presidential Trade and Investment Mission to the Philippines, and citing our comments and analysis on other issues of importance to the Southeast Asia and the business community. 

Presidential Trade and Investment Mission to the Philippines
[Philippine Star] https://www.philstar.com/headlines/2024/03/11/2339640/top-executives-join-us-trade-mission-philippines
[Inquirer] https://newsinfo.inquirer.net/1916814/a-first-us-presidential-tradeand-investment-mission-in-ph
[ABS-CBN news] https://news.abs-cbn.com/business/2024/3/12/us-commerce-chief-raimondo-says-ph-now-more-biz-friendly-1547
[International Trade Council] https://tradecouncil.org/historic-us-presidential-trade-mission/
Vietnam Business Mission: US-ABC sent the largest-ever US business delegation to Vietnam  
[Vietnam News] https://vietnamnews.vn/economy/1651210/usabc-to-send-largest-ever-us-business-delegation-to-viet-nam.html  
[baochinhphu] https://en.baochinhphu.vn/prime-minister-hosts-delegation-of-us-asean-business-council-111240321160415695.htm  
[Reuters] https://www.reuters.com/markets/asia/meta-boeing-ge-vernova-join-us-business-delegation-vietnam-this-week-2024-03-18/  
[Asia Nikkei] https://asia.nikkei.com/Business/Companies/Boeing-Meta-join-U.S.-business-delegation-to-Vietnam  
[COI Bulletin] https://www.ciobulletin.com/others/us-business-delegation-visiting-vietnam-this-week  
[Vietnam News] https://vietnamnews.vn/economy/1652254/top-50-us-businesses-land-in-vn-to-seek-opportunities.html  
[Vietnam News] https://vietnamnews.vn/politics-laws/1652398/us-companies-looking-forward-to-take-advantage-of-viet-nam-us-historic-upgrade-in-relations-official.html  
[Vietnam VN] https://www.vietnam.vn/en/chu-tich-quoc-hoi-tiep-doan-doanh-nghiep-cua-hoi-dong-kinh-doanh-hoa-ky-asean/  
[VOV World] https://vovworld.vn/en-US/news/vietnam-na-ready-to-create-favorable-legal-environment-listen-to-us-businesses-1280165.vov  
[Reuters] https://www.reuters.com/world/us-business-group-seeks-security-equipment-deal-with-vietnams-police-2024-03-11/  
[Nhan Dan] https://en.nhandan.vn/in-pictures-na-chairman-receives-delegation-of-us-asean-business-councils-businesses-post134116.html  
[Vietam News] https://vietnamnews.vn/politics-laws/1652373/na-chairman-works-with-us-asean-business-council.html  
Cooperation Between Vietnam and US IT Companies Could Help Combat Cyber Threats  
[Vietnam News] https://vietnamnews.vn/politics-laws/1652712/cooperation-between-viet-nam-and-us-it-companies-could-help-combat-cyber-threats-minister.html  
Cambodia Business Mission: US-ASEAN Business Council explore and expand investment opportunities in Cambodia  
[The Phnom Penh Post] https://www.phnompenhpost.com/business/us-asean-biz-council-show-strong-interest-in-expanding-investment  
[Khmer Times] https://www.khmertimeskh.com/501448228/ministry-of-tourism-and-us-abc-business-council-us-abc-to-discuss-strengthening-cooperation-and-partnership/  


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