Presidents' Newsletter, October 2023
Happy Halloween from the Council! In this newsletter, we are excited to share this past month’s work dedicated to strengthening US-ASEAN business relations.
We were honored to start this busy October with the appointment of Ambassador Brian McFeeters as our new Senior Vice President and Regional Managing Director. With over three decades of experience in advancing U.S. economic and strategic interests in Southeast Asia and beyond, Ambassador McFeeters is enthusiastic about leading our efforts to promote trade and investment between the region and the United States. Ambassador McFeeters shares our optimistic view of ASEAN’s potential and the belief that the American private sector can continue to contribute significantly to the economic and social development of the region.
We also welcomed Ms. Sinta Sirait as the new Chief Representative for Indonesia. Ms. Sirait is an expert in Sustainability, Human Resources, Governance, and Industrial Relations, previously serving as a Senior Advisor for Asia Group Associates, Chief Financial Officer & Chief Operating Officer at Jakarta Intercultural School (JIS), and Executive Director for Indonesia Services Dialogue. We look forward to seeing the great things that Ambassador McFeeters and Ms. Sirait’s leadership will bring.
This month, the Council hosted its sixth annual ASEAN Ambassadors' Tour with visits to Los Angeles, California; Austin and Houston, Texas. Representatives from eight ASEAN countries participated in the Tour, engaging with US-ABC member companies, state and local government officials, academics, and other stakeholders. We are proud of our work in improving awareness of the political and economic significance of America's relationship with ASEAN and the dynamic relationships among each of the ten ASEAN nations.
The US-ASEAN Business Council will host its annual gala reception on Wednesday, November 1, 2023, at the Army & Navy Club in Washington, D.C. The gala will celebrate the US-ASEAN partnership and the Council's commitment to building a more sustainable future. I look forward to hosting a fireside chat with Senator Tammy Duckworth to discuss the importance of the US-ASEAN partnership, as well as the challenges and opportunities for sustainable business development in the region.
Looking ahead, we are thrilled to announce the public launch of the new US-ASEAN Business Council website on November 7. This innovative platform is not just a revamp; it symbolizes our commitment to harnessing digital means to serve our members better. With its state-of-the-art design, our new website will amplify our online presence, bolster our digital advocacy endeavors, and provide enhanced services. On the launch day, you will receive an exclusive invitation to activate your account. This will also be an opportunity for you to update your subscription preferences to ensure you're aligned with the latest offerings and updates.
These events demonstrate the Council’s continuing efforts to provide value to our members, advance the U.S.-ASEAN economic partnership, and strengthen our relationship with ASEAN. We are grateful for your continued support for and participation in these efforts, and we look forward to working with you in the coming months to achieve even more success.
Ted Osius, Ambassador (ret.)
Month in Review
2023 AMAF Business Mission
From October 2-5, the Council organized a delegation of six prominent U.S. food and agriculture companies for a series of meetings with key agricultural officials during the 45th ASEAN Ministerial Meeting on Agriculture and Forestry (AMAF) in Kuala Lumpur. During this mission, the US-ABC delegates emphasized the significance of food security, food safety, and sustainable agriculture solutions as crucial focus areas for U.S. agricultural businesses throughout ASEAN. The delegation was co-led by the Council's Food & Agriculture Committee Chair, Elanco Animal Health, and Committee Vice Chair, Cargill. The other delegates included Corteva, Bayer, Illumina, and the U.S. Dairy Export Council.
Virtual Fireside Chat with Amb. Brian McFeeters
On October 11, the Council had the privilege of hosting a virtual fireside chat with Ambassador Brian McFeeters, who formally joined the Council on October 1 as our new Senior Vice President and Regional Managing Director. Ambassador McFeeters is a distinguished diplomat with over three decades of experience advancing U.S. economic and strategic interests in Southeast Asia and beyond. He has just completed a successful tenure as the U.S. Ambassador to Malaysia, where he significantly strengthened trade, investment, security, and people-to-people ties.
The fireside chat was an excellent opportunity to introduce him to our esteemed members across ASEAN and the United States. During this insightful session, our members engaged with him on a more personal level. Ambassador McFeeters shared insights from his unique background and extensive diplomatic career while offering a glimpse into his initial priorities for our members and staff.
Roundtable with Incoming Commercial Attache Sichao Ni
On October 11, the US-ASEAN Business Council held a roundtable with Mr. Sichao Ni, incoming Commercial Attaché for the U.S. Embassy in Singapore. Member companies shared about the opportunities and challenges of Singapore's business environment. Mr. Ni will begin his 4-year post on November 1 and will be pioneering U.S. IPEF initiatives on the ground.
Hybrid roundtable "U.S.- Thailand Relations at 190 Years: Toward a Sustainable Future"
On October 12, the Council, in collaboration with the Royal Thai Embassy, hosted a hybrid roundtable to commemorate the 190th anniversary of U.S.-Thailand diplomatic relations. The roundtable focused on sustainability priorities and initiatives, which are the shared commitment of both countries to foster a green and inclusive economy. The hybrid roundtable was attended by over 100 participants from both the private and public sectors of both countries. The panel included Ambassador Tanee Sangrat, the Royal Thai Embassy, Washington D.C.; Under Secretary Marisa Lago, U.S. Department of Commerce; Wirat Tatsaringkansakul, Thailand Board of Investment (BOI); Dr. Cholachit Vorawangso Virakul, Eastern Economic Corridor Office (EEC); Simonetta Verdi, Ford; Lisa Schroeter, Dow; and Nicholas Bramble, Google.
2023 ASEAN Ambassadors' Tour
From October 16-20, the Council hosted its sixth annual ASEAN Ambassadors' Tour with visits to Los Angeles, California; Austin and Houston, Texas. This year's Tour marked the Council's second Ambassador Tour since the COVID-19 pandemic. Representatives from eight ASEAN countries participated in the Tour. The Ambassadors engaged with US-ABC member companies, state and local government officials, academics, and other stakeholders. The Tour aimed to improve greater awareness of the political and economic significance of America's relationship with ASEAN and the dynamic relationships among the ten ASEAN nations. You can view the Council’s press release of the Ambassador's tour here.
Clean Energy Roundtable with A/S Arun Venkataraman
On October 16, The US-ASEAN Business Council, led by Amb. Brian McFeeters hosted a roundtable on Clean Energy in Singapore with Arun Venkataraman, Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Global Markets and Director General of the U.S. and Foreign Commercial Service. Director for External Relations from the Energy Market Authority Johnathan Goh also provided an update on Singapore's energy transition plans. The event supported the clean energy activities under the Partnership for Growth and Innovation between U.S. and Singapore and brought together government officials from the United States Department of Commerce, Singapore's Energy Market Authority, and industry experts to discuss opportunities for a cleaner energy landscape and challenges to energy transition in Southeast Asia, and explored topics such as renewable energy adoption, hydrogen, grid harmonization, sustainable fuel, mechanisms for increasing the adoption of sustainable technologies, and the essential role of the corporate sector in advancing clean energy solutions.
Welcome Reception for SVP & Regional MD Amb. McFeeters
On October 16, the Council hosted a welcome reception for our new Senior Vice President and Regional Managing Director, Ambassador Brian McFeeters. Several Singapore-based member companies had the chance to meet Ambassador McFeeters and hear about some of his early priorities in the role, which include arranging several introductory meetings with Council staff, members, and local governments over the coming weeks. The Council's Chief Country Representatives from Thailand, Malaysia, Philippines, and Indonesia also attended. The reception was graciously hosted by the U.S. Dairy Export Council at their Center for Dairy Excellence in Robertson Quay.
SICW Digital Policy Dialogue
On October 17, the Council, in collaboration with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and The Software Alliance (BSA), organized an in-person Digital Policy Dialogue on the sidelines of Singapore International Cyber Week (SICW) 2023. Held in Oracle's Singapore office, the Dialogue comprised two fireside chats and two panel sessions. Spanning 2.5 hours, participants dived into the issues of national security, the nexus of regulating data flows, cybersecurity and AI, and cooperation on these fronts. The sessions featured speakers from our joint membership and esteemed government officials across the Asia Pacific, such as Australia, Japan, Thailand, and the U.S.
US-ABC Meeting Series on Indonesia's Local Content Requirement
On October 18, the Council concluded our series on Indonesia's Local Content Requirement policy (LCR) for the ICT and HLS Industry with the Government of Indonesia. Starting in late September, the Council met with the Fiscal Policy Agency (BKF), the Ministry of Finance, the Coordinating Ministry for Maritime and Investment Affairs, the Coordinating Ministry for Economic Affairs, the Ministry of Industry, and the Ministry of Communications and Informatics. The series is part of our continuous advocacy efforts to encourage the government to review the LCR regulation and discuss its alternative calculations after implementation. As the meeting output, the Ministry of Industry agreed to collaborate and co-organize a Workshop on LCR policy to serve as a policy consultation session with relevant stakeholders and explore alternative approaches for calculating LCR. The Council is currently working with the Ministry of Industry to organize this workshop at the end of November. Should you have any questions, don't hesitate to contact Nugraheni (firstname.lastname@example.org) and Ben (email@example.com).
SME Workshop in the Philippines
On October 18, the ASEAN SME Academy co-administrators had a regular consultation session with the ASEAN Coordinating Committee on MSME (ACCMSME) members in Singapore. The co-administrators include the US-ASEAN Business Council, the Department of Trade and Industry of the Philippines - Bureau SME Development, and the Philippine Trade Training Center alongside partner USAID-IGNITE. This regular engagement is part of a commitment to report on the ASEAN SME Academy's progress and its capacity-building activities for SME development to the ASEAN Member States. The Council was represented by Ambassador Brian McFeeters and Ms. Bella Afifa, who presented the newly launched ASEAN Matters report and the Council's SME Program progress.
Joint Sustainability Roundtable with Albright Stonebridge
On October 19, the Council and Albright Stonebridge Group hosted a roundtable discussion on the Business Implications of Sustainability Trends in the Asia-Pacific at Cargill. The Council's Regional Managing Director Ambassador Brian McFeeters moderated the discussion with ASG Managing Partner Dan Rosenthal and Senior Advisor Danielle Yeow. The roundtable touched on policy and trends on sustainability and discussed issues related to the effect of policy and trends on sustainability in Asia Pacific and its potential impact on the U.S. business community.
ASEAN Committee Science, Technology, and Innovation tours
From October 31 to November 1, the Council is hosting ASEAN COSTI delegates on the sidelines of the annual ASEAN-US Committee Science, Technology, and Innovation (COSTI) dialogue. The delegation includes high-ranking officials such as the Deputy Secretary General, Director, and ADR of Science, Technology, and Innovation from the ASEAN Secretariat, along with Senior Officials from each of the 10 ASEAN member countries' Ministries of Science, Technology, and Innovation. The program features facility tours of Corteva Agriscience in Chesapeake, Virginia, as well as an AI and Innovation Roundtable Dialogue. The delegates will also attend the US-ABC Gala Dinner. The program strongly emphasizes exploring collaboration opportunities and facilitating a fruitful exchange of ideas and expertise in fostering the development of science, technology, and innovation in ASEAN.
Please find the most updated version of the Council's 2023 Events Calendar here.
US-ABC Gala Dinner 2023 US-ASEAN Business Council Gala
On the evening of November 1st, the Council will host its annual gala at the Army and Navy Club in Washington, D.C. The Council will host Senator Tammy Duckworth of Illinois in conversation: "Partnering for a Sustainable Future," and will be attended by ASEAN Ambassadors, senior U.S. government officials, and leaders from across the think-tank and private sector. Freeport McMoRan, UPS, and Corteva have generously sponsored the gala dinner. We are excited to celebrate the strong economic ties between the U.S. and ASEAN by welcoming our close colleagues from Southeast Asian embassies and the U.S. Government.
29th ASEAN Transport Ministers Meeting
From November 7-10, the Council will lead a business mission to the 29th ASEAN Transport Ministers Meeting (ATM) in Luang Prabang, Laos. During this Mission, the Council's delegation will engage with ministers and key transportation and infrastructure stakeholders across ASEAN to address the region's most pressing policy areas and issues. This year, ATM will be hosted by Lao PDR, and the Mission will be led by Ambassador Brian McFeeters, the Council's Senior Vice President and Regional Managing Director. In addition to Ambassador McFeeters, the delegation will be led by the Supply Chains Committee Chair, FedEx, and co-Vice-Chairs, UPS and 3M. For more information, please contact Cooper (firstname.lastname@example.org), Marcella (email@example.com), and Angelica (firstname.lastname@example.org).
US-ABC Health Dialogues: Innovations for Health
From November 14-16, the Council will host high-level bilateral meetings to address critical healthcare issues in the Philippines. The event will prioritize discussions on digitalization, health technology assessment, and strengthening primary care to achieve Universal Health Coverage (UHC). The series of proposed meetings feature officials from the following agencies: the Department of Health (DOH), Department of Science and Technology (DOST), Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT), Senate Committee on Health Demography; House Committee on Health, Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth), Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and National Privacy Commission (NPC). For more information, please get in touch with Third (email@example.com).
Save the Date: Executive Roundtable with President Joko Widodo
On November 13 or 14 (TBC), the Council, USINDO, and the US-Chamber of Commerce invite CEOs, C-Suite executives, and senior executives of our member companies to save the date for an Executive Business Roundtable with President Joko Widodo, in line with his upcoming visit to Washington to meet with President Biden. This roundtable will discuss advancing investment in mutual priority sectors like critical minerals, technology, healthcare, defense, finance, etc. Formal sponsorship invitations and more details will follow soon. Contact Mega Valentina at (firstname.lastname@example.org) for any inquiries.
APEC Networking Reception with Thailand Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin
On November 13, to celebrate the 190th Anniversary of Diplomatic Relations between Thailand and the United States and the economic ties between the two countries, the Thailand Board of Investment (BOI) will host a business networking reception in San Francisco for business leaders from both countries. The Council will support the Thailand BOI by inviting U.S. companies to join this reception. This event, organized in conjunction with the visit to the U.S. by the Thai Prime Minister and key Cabinet Members, will provide members with an opportunity to learn about Thailand's economic development policies from the Prime Minister and to network with key Thai business leaders who will be part of the Thai delegation. For more information on this event or to register, please contact Hai Pham (email@example.com).
APEC Leaders' Summit
From November 14-16, The Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) CEO Summit will be held in San Francisco, California. The summit will bring together CEOs, entrepreneurs, thought leaders and senior political leaders from the Asia-Pacific region to discuss global opportunities and challenges and explore ways to create economic opportunity through sustainability, inclusion, resilience, and innovation. The Council will host sideline events with the National Center for APEC (NCAPEC) and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. For more information about the APEC CEO Summit or the Council's sideline events, please get in touch with Hai (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Andrew (email@example.com).
2023 Thailand Business Mission
From November 21-23, the Council will bring senior executives of leading U.S. companies to Bangkok for the Council's annual Thailand Business Mission. This year's Mission marks an important opportunity for members to engage the new Thai administration at the start of their tenure. The primary objectives for this year's Mission are to gain insight into the new administration's priorities and policies and to establish the U.S. private sector as a trusted partner in achieving these priorities. Registration is now open here. For additional information, please get in touch with Pimploy (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Saravadee (email@example.com)
Food and Agriculture Industry Mission to the Philippines
From November 21-23, the Council will conduct a Food and Agriculture Industry Mission to the Philippines. The mission theme revolves around enhancing cooperation and supporting the Philippines' Agriculture, Forestry, and Fishing (AFF) sector. This program aims to supply critical resources, disseminate best practices, and harness digital transformation to advance sustainable agriculture implementation. Notably, the Mission aligns with national programs for the AFF sector, including rice, corn, livestock, and high-value crops. The delegation will meet with key stakeholders such as the Department of Agriculture, Food & Drug Administration, Senate Committee on Agriculture, Food and Agrarian Reform, House Committee on Agriculture and Food, National Food Authority, National Codex Organization, Department of Science and Technology, National Economic Development Authority, and the U.S. Embassy. For more information, please contact Angga (firstname.lastname@example.org).
From November 30 to December 12, COP28 will take place in Expo City, Dubai, in the United Arab Emirates. COP28 is slated to discuss progress made so far in emissions reduction and meeting the 1.5C goal, as well as measures that need to be implemented to bridge the gaps in progress. As an Observer Organization, the Council will be supporting a small delegation in attendance. For more information, please contact Christine Wan (email@example.com).
Comings and Goings
Welcome to Ambassador Brian McFeeters (ret.), who joined the US-ASEAN Business Council on October 1 as the Senior Vice President and Regional Managing Director. From Singapore, he will support the Council's 175 members and supervise Council matters in the ASEAN region. During his extensive career, McFeeters has made valuable contributions to diplomatic missions worldwide, serving in critical positions in countries including Indonesia, South Korea, and Malaysia and advancing U.S. business interests multilaterally at the U.S. Missions to the European Union, in Brussels, and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, in Paris.
Spending half of his 32-year Foreign Service career in Asia, Ambassador McFeeters most recently served as the U.S. envoy to Malaysia from February 2021 to August 2023. Previously, he was Senior Advisor to the Counselor of the Department of State, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary in the Bureau of Economic and Business Affairs, Deputy Chief of Mission U.S. Embassy Iraq, and Deputy Chief of Mission U.S. Embassy Indonesia, among other assignments.
Before his diplomatic career, McFeeters worked in the private sector as an analyst at Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC). He also served as a Captain in the U.S. Air Force at the Air Force Weapons Lab. Ambassador McFeeters holds an M.A. in International Affairs from SAIS Johns Hopkins, an M.S. in Chemistry from the University of New Mexico, a B.S. in Chemistry, and a B.A. in English from the University of Notre Dame.
We also welcome Ms. Sinta Sirait as the new Chief Representative for Indonesia. Ms. Sirait is an expert in Sustainability, Human Resources, Governance, and Regulatory Advocacy, previously serving as a Senior Advisor for Asia Group Associates, Chief Financial Officer & Chief Operating Officer at Jakarta Intercultural School (JIS), Executive Director for Indonesia Services Dialogue and Executive Vice President &Director of PT Freeport Indonesia. We look forward to seeing the great things that Ambassador McFeeters and Ms. Sirait’s leadership will bring.
Congratulations to Ms. Salsabil Afifa (Bella), the new coordinator for our SME Program, effective October 1. An associate at our Indonesia Office, Bella, ably represented the Council at the ACCSME meeting in Singapore on October 18, introducing SVP/RMD Ambassador Brian McFeeters (ret.) and Chief Country Representative Sinta Sirait.