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May 31, 2024

President's Newsletter, May 2024

Authored by
Malaysia Business Mission May 2024
May 31, 2024

Dear members, 

The US-ASEAN Business Council is in full swing as we approach the summer season!  This month we delivered on your requests for more impactful programming here in Washington, D.C., with visiting ASEAN Ministers, while providing tangible results through our regional programming.  But while we’re proud of the work the Council has done, we have no intention of slowing down. Read ahead to find out more! 

On May 7, Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim met with our Business Mission to Malaysia to discuss collaboration with the digital, healthcare, energy, and finance sectors under the current Madani framework. The engagement was enhanced by the presence of both U.S. Ambassador to Malaysia Edgard Kagan and U.S. Ambassador to ASEAN Yohannes Abraham, signaling the importance of this bilateral relationship as Malaysia prepares for its 2025 ASEAN Chairmanship.   The following week, the Council’s Senior Vice President & Regional Managing Director Ambassador (ret.) Brian McFeeters led our inaugural mission to East Malaysia, answering Prime Minister Anwar’s call for U.S. businesses to deepen investment beyond the capital city, which he articulated on the sidelines of the 78th United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) last fall.  The East Malaysia Mission also demonstrated the Council’s commitment to helping members build strategic relationships with political leaders and stakeholders in this opportune market.   

Malaysia Business Mission May 2024


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From May 20-24, thirty U.S. companies participated in our Philippines Business Mission, which translated the strategic momentum generated by Commerce Secretary Raimondo’s March Presidential Trade and Investment Mission and the first-ever U.S.-Japan-Philippines Trilateral Leaders’ Summit in April into concrete action for our members and strengthened U.S. private sector commitments to the Philippines.  During the mission, the Council directly supported the 6th Indo-Pacific Business Forum (IPBF) - the premier U.S. government commercial diplomacy event in the region – by organizing the opening panel session on “Private Sector Perspectives on the Outlook for Growth in the Indo-Pacific Region,” which explored regional growth trends, opportunities, and challenges for the ICT, energy, and food sectors. During the 4-day business mission, the delegation committed to working closely with the Philippine government in key areas, including digital transformation, sustainability, energy security, and supply chain resilience. The Council welcomed positive statements from the government on economic reform for increased investments. Furthermore, discussions during the event emphasized the role of collaborative and sustainable partnerships in promoting Philippine economic expansion.

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Separately, the Council’s Health and Life Sciences (HLS) committee has made significant recent progress advocating for innovative approaches to Sustainable Healthcare Financing.  This is a priority area for most ASEAN governments, and many have included it in their national strategic plans; however, some are still unsure about how best to fulfill their mandates. Our HLS committee’s goal is to assist ASEAN governments with enacting policies that will provide for more healthcare spending to meet growing needs through sharing information and expertise. Our concerted effort started through our collaboration with the London School of Economics (LSE) to conduct a survey and publish a paper entitled “Sustainable Healthcare Financing for SDG-3 in ASEAN-6," which became publicly available in March. Over the past two months, the Council led a series of activities that brought this important topic to the forefront of several engagements across ASEAN, including a USTDA workshop in Thailand and engagements with the Ministries of Health of Vietnam and Malaysia and the ASEAN Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors (AFMGM). Additionally, to highlight a significant win for the Council’s advocacy efforts with the AFMGM, ASEAN agreed with our recommendation to create a joint ministry of finance and health ministerial meeting!   

You’ll find more information about other recent engagements as well as our upcoming programming in the following pages.  

Best regards, 


Month in Review

On April 29, the Council co-hosted a reception with the Singapore Embassy in Washington, D.C. to celebrate the 20th Anniversary of the U.S.-Singapore Free Trade Agreement (USSFTA).  At the event, President & CEO Ambassador (ret.) Osius shared the stage with now Deputy Prime Minister Gan Kim Yong and U.S. Trade Representative Ambassador Katherine Tai to highlight what our country’s first FTA in Asia means for our members and our bilateral relations.  We are excited to work with Singapore -- an IPEF partner country and pioneer on digital rules-of-the road -- to further strengthen our policy collaboration and thought leadership. 

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On May 1, the Council held a roundtable in Washington, D.C., on the implications of Southeast Asia’s changing economic and political landscape for U.S. companies, featuring Managing Partner Hans Vriens and Senior Director Ambassador (ret.) William Heidt of Vriens & Partners. During the event, members exchanged candid views on the implications of recent leadership changes, assessments of geopolitical developments, and their potential impacts on U.S. operations in the region.   

From May 5-7, Ambassador Osius attended the Milken Institute Global Conference in Los Angeles, where more than 4,000 global leaders, experts, executives and innovators gathered under the theme “Shaping a Shared Future.”  Ambassador Osius joined a panel focused on global investors’ view of ASEAN and offered a business perspective on how to find opportunities in such a diverse and dynamic region.  On the margins of the Conference, the Council and new member Delphos co-hosted a dinner for member companies and other leaders to share insights on geopolitical positioning and the overall business landscape in one of the world’s fastest growing regions.

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On May 13, the Council and Google cohosted the Q2 ICT Committee meeting in Washington, D.C., featuring a briefing by Deputy Assistant Secretary Ambassador Steve Lang of the U.S. State Department Bureau of Cyberspace and Digital Policy. Ambassador Lang highlighted the new U.S. International Cyber and Digital Policy Strategy, emphasizing the importance of digital solidarity when working with partners to advance a digital future that respects rights, protects online safety and security, combats cybercrimes, and leverages technology to address some of the most profound global challenges. Ambassador Lang also shared insights into ongoing workstreams and upcoming opportunities for greater industry engagement in the region. 

Also on May 13, the Council hosted a roundtable in Washington, D.C. with Ms. Rosedalina Ramlan, Director of the Malaysian Investment Development Authority’s (MIDA) New York Headquarters.  The event provided members a closed-door discussion on Malaysia's fiscal strategies and investment landscape and an opportunity to discuss the way forward for a shared manufacturing and services industry ecosystem and the overall direction of public-private partnerships. 

On May 14, the Council participated for the first time in the ASEAN Working Group on Chemicals and Waste (AWGCW), hosted in Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei Darussalam. Attendees at this 9th AWGCW meeting included environmental agencies and directorate-level government officers from all ten ASEAN Member States.  While there, the Council proposed organizing a future event focused on extended producer responsibility, which would bring together the private sector and ASEAN government officials to discuss policy strategies for recycling and circularity. 

Also on May 14, Ambassador Osius hosted a happy hour for Board of Directors members at the Army and Navy Club in Washington, D.C., attended by Leslie Mancuso of Jhipeigo, Derek Wilkinson of Odgers Berndtson, Becky Fraser of Qualcomm, David Lewis of ECV, General Counsel Tom Egan of Baker McKenzie, and representatives from 3M, Chubb, and S&P Global.  An additional special guest from Thailand was Dr. Thitinan Pongsudhirak of Chulaongkorn University, fresh from his lecture at the Center for Strategic International Studies (CSIS).   

On May 15, Chairman's Council member Bower Group Asia (BGA) hosted a roundtable focused on the latest political and economic developments in Thailand.  Featuring BGA’s President & CEO (and Council Board Member and founder) Ernie Bower and BGA Thailand’s Senior Advisor Dr. Pongsudhirak, the exclusive in-person conversation centered around Thailand’s political and economic challenges nearly a year into Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin’s tenure. 

On May 16, the Council and the American Indonesian Chamber of Commerce (AICC) co-hosted a briefing on Indonesia’s current and future economic policies with Shinta Kamdani, Coordinating Vice Chairwoman of the Indonesian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KADIN) and owner & CEO of the Sintesa Group, an Indonesian strategic investment holding company with 16 subsidiaries that operate under four business pillars: Property, Energy, Industrial and Consumer Products, and Chairwoman of the Indonesian Employers’ Association (APINDO). 

Also on May 16, the US-ASEAN Business Council Institute, represented by US-ABC Chief Representative Indonesia Sinta Sirait and SME Manager Salsabil Afifa, engaged with ASEAN Coordinating Committee MSME (ACCMSME) members during the 17th ACCMSME Meeting in Jakarta under the agenda "Collaboration with the US-ASEAN Business Council." Ms. Joanne Tan from Enterprise Singapore and Chair of ACCMSME 2024 led the meeting, which was attended by SME Agency representatives from Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam. The presentation highlighted the Council’s commitment to empowering ASEAN MSMEs through the SME Workshop Series and provided the Council an opportunity to update others on the plan for the ASEAN SME Academy platform to transition to the Philippines Department of Trade and Industry and the Trade Training Center. The Philippines Government requested that the Council transfer the credentials by June 2024; of note, no funding from US-ABC will accompany this transfer. 

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Delegations and Envoys

From April 22 to May 3, Assistant Secretary for Economic and Business Affairs Ramin Toloui traveled to Vietnam, the Philippines, and Singapore to strengthen bilateral relationships and advance trade and economic opportunities. In Vietnam, he discussed the semiconductor ecosystem, including cooperation under the CHIPS and Science Act’s International Technology Security Innovation (ITSI) Fund.  In the Philippines he met government economic officials and private sector experts to assess regional economic and investment trends, semiconductor supply chains, and efforts to promote economic resilience.  He highlighted expanding cooperation under the ITSI Fund and next steps to advance the Luzon Economic Corridor.  He also encouraged public and private sector participation from the region at the Indo-Pacific Business Forum on May 21 in Manila.  In Singapore, he toured a GlobalFoundries semiconductor fabrication plant, met with the Singapore Semiconductor Industry Association on semiconductor and supply chain issues, and discussed regional economic integration and sustainable finance.  Department of State  

From May 6-10, Deputy Secretary of State for Management and Resources Richard R. Verma traveled to the People’s Republic of China (PRC) and the Philippines. In the Philippines he met with senior government officials to build on the progress made during the annual U.S.-Philippines Bilateral Strategic Dialogue on April 22-23, the bilateral meeting between President Marcos and President Biden, the historic Japan-Philippines-U.S. Trilateral Leaders’ Summit on April 11, and the U.S.-Philippines 3+3 Ministerial on April 12.  Department of State 

From May 9-14, Coordinator on Global Anti-Corruption Richard Nephew traveled to Malaysia and Australia to meet with a range of government officials, civil society organizations, and private sector representatives, discuss work underway in the fight against corruption, and identify areas for further cooperation and collaboration on anti-corruption efforts.  Department of State  

From May 18-24, the U.S. International Development Finance Corporation’s (DFC) Deputy Chief Executive Officer (DCEO) Nisha Biswal traveled to the Philippines and Indonesia, where she met with senior government officials and private sector leaders to discuss promoting development and economic prosperity throughout the Indo-Pacific.  In Manila, DCEO Biswal attended the IPBF and the inaugural meeting of the Partnership for Global Infrastructure and Investment (PGI) Luzon Corridor Steering Committee.  In Jakarta, DCEO Biswal announced a new DFC commitment for up to $126 million for the development and operation of a new 31MW Phase I power plant in East Java. Development Finance Corporation 

From May 20-21, Assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs Daniel J. Kritenbrink traveled to Manila to participate in the sixth Indo-Pacific Business Forum (IPBF), the premier U.S.-sponsored business event in the region. Assistant Secretary Kritenbrink joined other high-ranking U.S. officials, including U.S. Trade and Development Agency Director Enoh T. Ebong, Senior Advisor to the President for Energy and Investment Amos Hochstein, U.S. International Development Finance Corporation Deputy Chief Executive Officer Nisha Biswal, Export-Import Bank of the United States First Vice President and Vice Chair Judith D. Pryor, U.S. Senior Official for APEC Ambassador Matt Murray, Special Coordinator of the Partnership for Infrastructure and Investment Helaina Matza, and Assistant U.S. Trade Representative for Southeast Asia and the Pacific Sarah Ellerman. The Assistant Secretary highlighted the United States’ role as a major economic partner in the region, as U.S. companies continued to be the top source of foreign direct investment nearing $1 trillion in U.S. investments, and as two-way trade exceeds $2 trillion annually.  Department of State 

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

From June 4-5, the Council will lead its annual mission to the 33rd Meeting of the ASEAN Directors-General of Customs in Phu Quoc, Vietnam.  This will provide members an opportunity to engage with ASEAN Customs officials, and to provide feedback on the harmonization of trade rules and regulatory barriers in the on-going negotiations to upgrade the ASEAN Trade in Goods Agreement (ATIGA).  Although early bird registration has closed, regular registration is still open. For more information, please contact msuwandhi@usasean.org  or aortega@usasean.org.   

On June 4, the Council will convene a roundtable dialogue in Jakarta with support from the U.S. State Department Bureau of Cyberspace and Digital Policy to provide share industry insights, best practices, and use cases with members of the ASEAN AI Working Group and to help advance responsible, trustworthy AI.  

As one of the Council’s special project initiatives this year, on June 5, the Council will co-organize a policy retreat with the Government of Thailand on the ASEAN Digital Economy Framework Agreement (DEFA) in Bangkok with the Thailand Ministry of Commerce (which chairs the Negotiating Committee) on the sidelines of the 4th DEFA Negotiating Committee Meeting and the 25th ASEAN Coordinating Committee on E-Commerce and Digital Economy (ACCECD). The retreat will be followed by additional USABC led workshops for ASEAN negotiators on topics of mutual interest including digital payment connectivity, data governance and cybersecurity, and emerging tech (AI). 

On June 7, the Council will organize an Exclusive Briefing with Mr. Hashim Djojohadikusumo, a key member of the Prabowo-Gibran Campaign Team’s Advisory Board and the younger brother of President-elect Prabowo Subianto.  Titled “Dialogue on the Transition towards 2024 – 2029,” the briefing will be held at the Fairmont Hotel in Jakarta and is part of the Council’s efforts to provide opportunities for members to hear internal insights on the future administration’s policy priorities directly from those involved.  For more information, please contact Utami Nugraheni at utami@usasean.org.  

On June 11, the Council will host a luncheon in honor of His Excellency Dr. Kao Kim Hourn, the 15th Secretary General of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). This is a unique opportunity to directly engage with the Secretary General during his first official working visit to the United States for meetings with senior members of the Biden Administration and the U.S. Congress. This luncheon will serve as the sole private sector engagement on his official schedule, and all ASEAN Ambassadors and Chiefs of Missions in Washington, D.C., will be invited to join. For more information, please contact Jack Myint at jmyint@usasean.org

Also on June 11, the Council’s Aerospace, Defense & Security Committee will host an informal network event at the Army and Navy Club in Washington, D.C.  This event will bring together representatives from our member companies, the ASEAN Defense Attaches to the United States, and colleagues from the Department of Defense, Department of State, Department of Commerce, National Security Council, and other U.S. Government offices and agencies focused on Southeast Asia to strengthen relationships and explore new opportunities for collaboration.  For more information, please contact Chuck Casey at ccasey@usasean.org

On June 27, the Asia Group (TAG) and the Council will co-host a happy hour in Washington, D.C., featuring briefings on the U.S. Presidential debates by senior representatives from the International Republican Institute (IRI) and the National Democratic Institute (NDI) and followed by a casual networking event with ASEAN Embassy staff, USG officials, think tank representatives, and private sector counterparts.  For more information, please contact Andrew Koch at akoch@usasean.org.  

From July 8-12, the Council will organize our annual flagship ASEAN Ambassadors’ Tour to Louisville, Kentucky; Cincinnati, Ohio; and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  The Tour will promote greater awareness of the political and economic significance of the U.S.-ASEAN relationship and the dynamic relationships among the ASEAN member states through visits to member facilities and engagements with local stakeholders, including governments, academics, and trade associations.  Sponsorship opportunities are still available.  For more information, please contact Ploy Vivatanapaiboonlap at pimploy@usasean.org

On July 9-11, the Council will hold its first-ever Thailand Travel Industry Dialogue and Sustainable Tourism SME Workshop in Bangkok to engage the key stakeholders who comprise Thailand’s travel and tourism ecosystem.  Sponsorship opportunities are still available.  For more information, please contact Ploy Vivatanapaiboonlap at pimploy@usasean.org and Bella Salsabi at safifa@usasean.org.   

On July 16, in collaboration with the U.S. State Department Bureau of Cyberspace and Digital Policy, the Council will organize a Roundtable Discussion and Reception on the margins of the inaugural U.S.-Philippines Cyber-Digital Dialogue. The Philippines delegation will be led by Secretary Ivan John E. Uy of the Philippines Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT), while Deputy Assistant Secretary Steve Lang of the U.S. State Department Bureau of Cyberspace and Digital Policy will also attend. For more information, please contactd Maya Crowden at mcrowden@usasean.org.   

Also in July, the Council will conduct Food and Agriculture industry missions to Thailand and Vietnam to advance sustainable food and agriculture practices, with proposed workshops alongside the formal meetings with government officials and key stakeholders. Engagements will focus on priority topics of animal health development, food nutrition, livestock, plant science, supply chains, and trade facilitation.  For more information, please contact Angga Antagia at aantagia@usasean.org

From July 20 to August 22, President & CEO Ambassador Osius will travel to Singapore to engage in regional meetings and missions, while Senior Vice President & Regional Managing Director Ambassador McFeeters will travel to Washington D.C. from July 20 to August 13.    

From July 23-25, the Council will lead our annual Business Mission to Singapore. The registration portal can be found by accessing the US-ABC Business Mission Manager. For more information, please contact Angelica Ortega in Washington, D.C. at aortega@usasean.org or Jileen Yong in Singapore at jyong@usasean.org 

In August, the Council will host a 40th anniversary Gala and convene our 2024 Board of Directors meeting, both in Singapore.  For more information about the Gala please contact Sarah Lessing at slessing@usasean.org.


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Comings and Goings

This month we welcomed Ms. Khanvengnit Rungmee (JaJa), the Council’s new Executive Assistant in the Bangkok, Thailand Office.  JaJa is joining the Communications and Food and Agriculture teams in addition to her support for the Thailand country committee.  We also bid farewell to Ms. Tomomi Takeda, the Council’s former Executive Assistant in the Bangkok office who departed on May 15. 

Council in the Press

AI can be the next leap for the US-Singapore FTA, says Trade Minister Gan Kim Yong - Straits Times 

US-Singapore FTA marks 20 years: a bridge ‘at the right place, right time’ - Business Times 

Speech by Minister Gan Kim Yong at the US-Singapore FTA 20th Anniversary Business Reception - MTI 

AI can be the next leap for the US-Singapore FTA - Straits Times 

AI can be the next leap for the US-Singapore FTA - Head Topics 

US-Singapore FTA can help usher in AI - Asia One 

Cambodia says it will cut shipping through Vietnam by 70% with new China-funded Mekong canal - Reuters 


US weighs upgrade for Vietnam to 'market economy' status - Fidelity 

Vietnam's China ties loom large in US hearing on market economy upgrade - Reuters 

U.S.-Vietnam engagement deepens across diplomacy, defense, trade sectors – Indo-Pacific Defense Forum 

Vietnam's China ties loom large in US hearing on market economy upgrade - Yahoo Canada 

US weighs upgrade for Vietnam to 'market economy' status - Selangor Journal 


Mỹ cân nhắc nâng Việt Nam lên quy chế ‘kinh tế thị trường’ - VOA 

Toàn cảnh phiên thảo luận vụ Mỹ cân nhắc nâng Việt Nam lên quy chế kinh tế thị trường - Tuổi Trẻ 

US Department of Commerce holds hearing on designating VN as a market economy - EIN Presswire 

US-ABC: It's time to recognize Vietnam's market economy - Bao Moi 

US-Singapore FTA at 20: Taking it a step further - The Straits Times 

Vietnamese businesses are ready for a large and level playing field - Lao Dong 

The complexity of the process of 'removing the NME label' for Hanoi - VOA 

Deep reform is needed to have a perfect market economy - Tuoi Tre 

High-powered US-Asean Business Council discusses business opportunities in Sabah - Borneo Post 

Majlis Perniagaan AS-ASEAN bincang peluang perniagaan di Sabah - Utusan Borneo Online 

Majlis Perniagaan AS-ASEAN bincang peluang perniagaan di Sabah - Utusan Borneo Online 

High-powered US-ABC delegation discusses business opportunities in Sabah - Borneo Post 

Vietnam is already a market economy - Thuong  Hieu Cong Luan 

US-Asean Business Council delegation meets Hajiji - Daily Express Malaysia 

Hajiji terima kunjungan hormat delegasi US-ASEAN Business Council - Sabah Media 

The U.S. Must Offer a Substantive 5G Alternative to China’s Huawei - The National Interest 

Global Race for 5G Dominance Intensifies as Countries Evaluate Economic and Security Implications - Smart Phone Magazine 

Digital Press Briefing with USTDA Director Enoh T. Ebong and U.S. Senior Official for APEC Matt Murray - Department of State 

Vietnam to host 33rd ASEAN Customs Directors-General Meeting in June - Vietnam News 

2024 IPBF Forges New Collaborations, Spurs Innovation, and Drives Investment - Department of State 

US-China trade war escalates, posing opportunity and risk for Vietnam - VietnamNet 

Eliminiating Misunderstandings About Vietnam's Economy - Luat Phap 

US-China trade war escalates, posing opportunity and risk for Vietnam - Vietnam Net 

Railway projects to harness Luzon’s potential as prime logistics hub - Philippine News Agency  

Potensyal ng Luzon bilang ‘prime logistics hub’ tinututukan ng DOTr - Remate Online 

Mga transport infra project sa Luzon corridor, malaking tulong sa paglago ng ekonomiya sa lugar - Radyo Pilipinas 

Từ bức thư có lý, có tình của cựu đại sứ Mỹ viết về Việt Nam - Báo Pháp Luật 

US companies keen on diverse sectors in PH - Malaya.com 

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