Amb. Ted Osius
President & CEO
US-ASEAN Business Council
This week, a U.S. President joined both the ASEAN Summit and the East Asia Summit for the first time since 2017. President Joe Biden in his opening remarks at the ASEAN Summit told Southeast Asia’s leaders that they could “expect to see [him] personally showing up” to the region. He also underscored ASEAN’s essential role in the regional architecture of the Indo-Pacific as well as the significance of the U.S.-ASEAN relationship. With this came a White House announcement of $102 million in new initiatives to expand the U.S.-ASEAN Strategic Partnership, with $40 million for the U.S.-ASEAN Health Futures initiative, $20.5 million for a new U.S.-ASEAN Climate Futures initiative, $20 million to promote economic growth and development, and $21.5 million to promote people-to-people ties through education and gender equity initiatives. We were honored to see the Council and our ASEAN-U.S. Digital Policy Consultative Forum named as valued stakeholders in the ASEAN-U.S. Leaders’ Statement on Digital Development. During the East Asia Summit, President Biden announced that the United States “will explore with partners the development of an Indo-Pacific economic framework.” We hope this framework emphasizes the importance of U.S. leadership on trade in the region. As we all know, in Asia especially, trade is strategy.At the ASEAN and East Asia Summits this year, one member state was noticeably absent. ASEAN rescinded its invitation to Senior General Min Aung Hlaing and, based on the Emergency ASEAN Foreign Minister Meeting held on October 15, invited a non-political figure from Myanmar to participate after no consensus was reached for a political representative to attend. The incident prompting this move was the military’s rejection of the Special Envoy of the ASEAN Chair on Myanmar’s proposal to engage with Daw Aung San Suu Kyi in a planned visit to the country, which the envoy subsequently cancelled. Shortly after these events, the United States and several of its allies and partners issued a joint statement in support of ASEAN’s Special Envoy.The United States government continues to engage Myanmar to help resolve the country’s political and humanitarian crisis. On October 25, National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan met with National Unity Government (NUG) representatives. This comes after State Department Counselor Derek Chollet and an interagency delegation from the State Department, the National Security Council, the U.S. Mission to the United Nations, and the U.S. Agency for International Development traveled to Thailand, Singapore and Indonesia from October 17-22 to engage key ASEAN countries on the situation in Myanmar. In the U.S. Congress, House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Gregory Meeks, House Foreign Affairs Asia-Pacific Subcommittee Ranking Member Steve Chabot and Senator Ben Cardin introduced the “Burma Unified through Rigorous Military Accountability Act of 2021” or the BURMA Act of 2021 on October 5.The bill calls for all parties involved in perpetrating the February 1 coup and continued violence committed by the Myanmar military against civilians over the past eight months to be held accountable. The legislation also highlights sanctions and import restrictions, policy coordination, and humanitarian assistance measures.Sustainability remains an important issue area for the Council and its membership. Ahead of the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26), the Council co-hosted a roundtable with Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry with the ASEAN Committee of Washington. Secretary Kerry and the ASEAN Ambassadors discussed U.S. proposals for COP26 as well as avenues to deepen U.S.-ASEAN climate cooperation. Meanwhile, the Council and Singapore’s National Environment Agency (NEA) successfully signed a new memorandum of understanding (MOU) on October 20 to deepen collaboration on sustainability initiatives. The virtual signing ceremony began with remarks from Grace Fu, Minister for Sustainability and the Environment, Republic of Singapore, followed by Craig Smith, Chairman of the US-ABC Board and Group President, International Division for Marriott International. I had the privilege of signing the MOU with NEA’s CEO Luke Goh, and the Council’s Senior Vice President & Regional Managing Director, Ambassador Michael Michalak, served as witness. Following the signing, we participated in a lively one-on-one discussion on the contents of the MOU and affirmed our shared commitment to working closer together in the areas of waste management, recycling initiatives, carbon credits, and sustainable supply chains. I had the opportunity to meet with Indonesia’s Coordinating Minister of Maritime Affairs and Investment Luhut Pandjaitan on October 19 during his visit to Washington, DC. We discussed Minister Luhut’s work to accelerate Indonesia’s zero-emissions goal as well as methods to implement local content requirements in a way that encourages foreign direct investment, strengthens the manufacturing industry, and promotes job creation. The Council also joined the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s discussion with Minister Luhut and Health Minister Budi Gunadi Sadikin at the Indonesian Embassy. I was delighted to highlight how we have delivered 33 pallets of diagnostic tests and personal protective equipment from New York City to Jakarta through our partnership with the Global Task Force for Pandemic Response. More than 1,000 more pallets are on the way to Jakarta. During the discussion, we also learned about Minister Budi’s reform plans to develop healthcare technologies and transform Indonesia into a health and vaccination destination. On October 13, the Council collaborated with the United States-Indonesia Society (USINDO) to host a gala in Washington DC featuring Indonesia’s Minister of Finance Sri Mulyani Indrawati. The gala included an off-the-record business roundtable with executives from several Council members. At the business roundtable, Minister Sri Mulyani provided an update on the government of Indonesia (GOI)’s approaches to supporting domestic economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, which were informed by lessons learned from the 1997 and 2007 financial crises. In addition, the Minister outlined several of the GOI’s priorities as it takes over the Chairmanship of the G20 in 2022 and highlighted several emerging areas of focus for the Ministry of Finance, including strengthening “green finance” initiatives to support market-based approaches to Indonesia’s clean energy transition strategy.The Council also had an introductory meeting with Singapore’s Minister of Trade and Industry Gan Kim Yong during his first visit to the United States in his new role. We discussed how the Council and the U.S. private sector can continue to support longstanding economic relations between the United States and Singapore through the digital economy, healthcare, small and medium-sized enterprises, capacity-building initiatives, and the revival of the travel and tourism sector. During this trip to Washington, Minister Gan also met with U.S. Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo and U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai to discuss substantive outcomes from Vice President Kamala Harris’s recent visit to Singapore.From September 30 through mid-October, the Council conducted its annual Vietnam Business Mission, bringing a virtual delegation of 37 companies to Hanoi to engage with the government of Vietnam. During the mission, Council members established working relationships with the new government in Vietnam while reaffirming the commitment of the American business community to supporting Vietnam’s COVID-19 economic recovery. Over the course of the mission, the delegation met with Cabinet members and senior members of the Vietnamese government, most notably Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh, Chairman of the National Assembly Vuong Dinh Hue, and Chairman of the Central Party Committee on Economic Affairs Tran Tuan Anh, among several other Ministers and Vice Ministers.Our virtual Cambodia Business Mission followed shortly thereafter from October 18-22. We kicked off the mission by meeting with Samdech Hun Sen, Prime Minister of Cambodia, followed by discussions with nine ministries and the American Chamber of Commerce. The Council and our delegation of 13 companies offered our support to Cambodia as it assumes the ASEAN Chair in 2022 as well as in its efforts to promote post-pandemic economic recovery through sustainability, digitalization, infrastructure and capacity-building efforts.This year, the Council is bringing a delegation of six companies on its mission to the 43rd ASEAN Ministers Meeting on Agriculture and Forestry (AMAF). This will be the Council's seventh consecutive engagement with the AMAF. The mission kicked off on October 21 with an ASEAN-wide Workshop on Safe Nutritious Food followed by the second Joint Working Group Meeting on the Memorandum of Understanding between the Council's Food & Agriculture Committee and the Philippines Department of Agriculture on October 26. The mission will continue with a series of bilateral meetings with various stakeholders across the region.In conjunction with the 80th ASEAN Committee on Science, Technology, and Innovation (COSTI), the Council held the second 2021 ASEAN Innovation Series on October 14 by conducting a Virtual Tour of Innovation Labs/Centers in Singapore and Switzerland. During this event, more than 250 public and private sector participants were able to virtually tour the Corteva Agriscience Formulation Lab in Singapore, the 3M Customer Technical Center in Singapore, and the R&D Center of Philip Morris International located at The Cube in Switzerland.I want to congratulate Ambassador Rosan P. Roeslani on his appointment to serve as the new Indonesian Ambassador to the United States. His experience working with the government on the private sector-led "Gotong Royong vaccination program" as the Chairman of the Indonesia Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KADIN) combined with his success as a businessman will be a great asset to expand the U.S.-Indonesia bilateral relationship. We look forward to hosting the Ambassador for a welcome event early in his tenure.As the ASEAN community celebrates the organization’s 54th anniversary, I would like to close by thanking the Embassy of Brunei Darussalam as well as our friends at the US-Asia Institute and the U.S. Department of Commerce for co-hosting a virtual ASEAN Day symposium with us on October 5. We certainly hope the people of ASEAN continue to thrive and prosper in the years ahead.
APEC CEO Summit (November 11-12)From November 11-12, New Zealand will host the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) CEO Summit, bringing together leaders from the 21 APEC economies with CEOs from across the Asia Pacific. Themes of the session include: the state of the world, post-COVID-19 economic recovery and trade; digital disruption opportunities through innovation, digital transformation, and the importance of digital equity; the primacy of trust, including sustainability and business as good forces; the sustainability imperative, including sustainable growth, food security and provenance; and the future of energy, including clean and renewable energy. For more information about the summit, please visit the official website. 2021 ASEAN Transport Ministers Mission (November 11)The Council is planning its annual mission to the 2021 ASEAN Transport Ministers (ATM) Meeting. This will be the Council's sixth consecutive engagement to the ATM. The Council once again aims to conduct a one-hour plenary session with the 10 ASEAN Ministers of Transport, which will focus on adapting ASEAN transportation systems to ensure the safe and sustainable movement of people, goods, and services. The consultation will cover five critical topics: supporting ASEAN Travel Reopening Frameworks, alleviating supply chain disruptions, enhancing road safety, investing in sustainable transport frameworks, and accelerating digital transformation for ASEAN's economic recovery. The plenary session held alongside the ATM is scheduled for November 11. For more information about the mission, please contact J-Ren Ong (firstname.lastname@example.org).2021 Virtual Malaysia Business Mission (November 15-24)The 2021 Malaysia Business Mission aims to further strengthen the relationship between the Malaysian government and the U.S. private sector by collaborating on initiatives that support post-pandemic economic recovery and achieve the goals of the 12th Malaysia Plan (12MP). The plan includes transforming Malaysia into a high-tech country that harnesses technological innovation and sustainable infrastructure for its energy supply and empowers SMEs by 2025. For more information about the mission, please contact Alberto Coria (email@example.com).2021 ASEAN Innovation Series - Session 2 (November 16)The third event in the ASEAN Innovation series will be held on November 16 with the theme, “Harnessing Innovation to Support COVID-19 Recovery.” The event will focus on digital innovation, vaccine development, COVID-19 treatments within ASEAN, resilience for future pandemics, and the role of efficient regulatory framework in facilitating access to innovation, among others. Please contact Angga Antagia (firstname.lastname@example.org) for more information.2021 Thailand Business Mission (November 29 - December 1)From November 29 to December 1, the Council will organize its annual Thailand Business Mission, proposed once again as a hybrid engagement with the Prime Minister and his cabinet. This year, our mission will focus on promoting investment, growth, and innovation to strengthen business relations between the United States and Thailand. In the context of the pandemic, the Royal Thai Government is eager to share its vision for pandemic recovery and how it plans to leverage sustainable economic growth and technological advancement in the new normal, including by identifying priority areas of cooperation with the U.S. private sector. The mission will also be an opportunity for the Council and its members to offer support to Thailand as it leads regional economic integration efforts as the Chair of APEC in 2022, with themes focusing on trade and investment, connectivity (starting with travel and tourism), and inclusive and sustainable growth (highlighting the bio-circular-green economic model). For more information about the mission, please contact Praab Pianskool (email@example.com).
In The Press
Ambassador Ted Osius is interviewed on CNBC Squawk Box following ASEAN SummitOn October 29, CNBC Squawk Box interviewed the Council’s President & CEO Ambassador Ted Osius on outcomes of the ASEAN Summit and what it might mean for further U.S. engagement in ASEAN. Click here to watch a segment of the interview.Ambassador Ted Osius Participates in ASEAN Business Partner’s Webinar “The Future is ASEAN – A Pathway to Growth in Southeast Asia”On October 13, ASEAN Business Partners (ABP) featured the Council’s President & CEO Ambassador Ted Osius as one of the panelists for its webinar “The Future is ASEAN – A Pathway to Growth in Southeast Asia.” He was also joined by representatives from CommScope, Citi, and Natixis. Click here to see the full recording.Ambassador Ted Osius Talks Trade and Diplomacy in Southeast Asia with the Perth USAsia CentreDuring an interview with Professor Gordon Flake from the Perth USAsia Centre, the Council’s President & CEO Ambassador Ted Osius laid out ASEAN’s trade strategies, economic diplomacy, and opportunities. Click here to view the full recording.Marc Mealy Speaks with Voice of America about the U.S.-ASEAN SummitThe Council’s Senior Vice President for Policy Marc Mealy appreciated President Biden’s decision to attend the U.S.-ASEAN Summit this past week. Click here to read the full article.Senior Director Kim Yaeger Receives WIIT’s “Emerging Leaders Award”During the Association of Women in International Trade (WIIT)’s 2021 Annual Awards Event on October 17, the Council’s Senior Director of Maritime Affairs, Kim Yaeger was one of the recipients of WIIT’s “Emerging Leaders” award. Click here to view the full virtual event.
The government of Brunei has extended curfews until October 31.
In its mid-October COVID-19 briefing, Brunei's Ministry of Health authorized the use of Pfizer-BioNTech's coronovirus vaccine for teenagers aged 12 to 17 to help reach its 80 percent vaccination goal by the end of this year.
Cambodia shortens its quarantine period to three days for fully-vaccinated travelers as the country achieves an 85 percent vaccination rate.
To ensure a continued decline in cases, the government has laid out six strategies that focus on strengthening health protocols, monitoring activities, and vaccinating citizens before the holiday season.
The government reopened the provinces of Bali and Riau islands to foreign tourists on October 14. It is also discussing mutual recognition of COVID-19 vaccine certifications with Malaysia.
The government has extended its lockdown measures until October 30 as the number of COVID-19 cases continues to increase.
Bats discovered in northern Laos harbor the closest known relative to SARS-CoV-2.
As more sectors of the economy reopen, Malaysia allows interstate travel and international travel for fully vaccinated individuals.
Within this month, Myanmar reported a daily test positivity rate of 6.21 percent. As of early October, 20 percent of the population has been vaccinated, where 8 percent received full doses of the vaccine and 12 percent received one dose.
Myanmar’s Ministry of Hotels and Tourism announced that it is finalizing procedures to reopen the tourism sector for foreigners starting in early 2022. This will first target visitors from Southeast Asia.
On October 8, the Philippines' Inter-Agency Taskforce for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) announced an additional resolution regarding testing and quarantine protocols for the international travelers.
According to the IATF Resolution 142, fully vaccinated passengers travelling to the Philippines from "Green" list and "Yellow" list countries/territories/jurisdictions need to undergo facility-based quarantine until the release of the negative result of their reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) test taken on their fifth day in the country.
In response to rapidly increasing COVID-19 cases, the Singapore government imposed a “stabilization phase” starting on September 27, retightening restrictions to limit further community transmission.
Fully vaccinated travelers from the United States and nine other countries are now eligible to apply for quarantine-free entry into Singapore under the Vaccinated Travel Lane (VTL) program.
Thailand will begin to allow quarantine-free entry for vaccinated visitors starting on November 1.
Thailand will phase out the use of the Sinovac vaccine after its current stock depletes at the end of the month.
Vietnamese Ministry of Health reports the lowest COVID-19 case rates in tow months, with 3,528 cases in 41 provinces. and cities.
On October 1, Vietnam lifted the COVID-19 lockdown in Ho Chi Minh City admist declining COVID-19 cases.
Malaysia Unveils the 12th Malaysia Plan (12 MP)On September 27, Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob presented the 12th Malaysia Plan (12MP) with the theme “A Prosperous, Inclusive, Sustainable Malaysia.” The 12MP serves as the country’s development framework from 2021 to 2025. It is anchored on three themes: (i) resetting the economy; (ii) enhancing connectivity and transport infrastructure; and (iii) advancing sustainability, embodying comprehensive policy responses to challenges brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic. It also introduces 14 game changers (innovative actions towards national development), to ensure that the country’s growth will be between 4.5 percent and 5.5 percent from 2021 to 2025, with average monthly family income reaching RM10,000 ($2,387) by 2025. 12MP also outlined a spending plan of up to RM400 million, including a3.0 modelfor private-public partnership (PPP) for infrastructure projects and RM3.1 billion allocation for the upgrading and building of new telecommunication towers.Thailand to Impose New Entry Tax on International TravelersThailand has indicated its intention to impose a 500 baht (US$15) tax on every incoming international traveler starting from 2022. This proposed tax is a 200 baht increase from the 300 baht tax approved by the National Tourism Policy Committee earlier this year. The entrance tax is separate from and would be levied in addition to the current 400-700 baht departure tax levied on outgoing travelers. The tax is part of a broader plan to transition Thailand’s tourism industry from mass tourism towards a focus on higher value tourism with less impact on the environment, as a part of the country’s adoption of a Bio-Circular-Green (BCG) economic model. The tax will contribute towards a “tourism transformation fund,” which will subsidize projects initiated by the private sector, community enterprises, or social enterprises that help transform these entities in line with this planned transition. Electronic Vehicle Industry Sees More Potential in the ASEAN RegionAccording to MAYBANK, one of ASEAN’s largest financial institutions, the ASEAN region is gearing up for the growth of sales of more electric vehicles (EVs), which may likely outsell internal combustion-powered cars by 2035. Currently, Singapore is leading in ASEAN with the most developed EV consumer market framework, offering an incentive of up to $14,800 for buyers of EVs until 2023. Indonesia has one of the world’s highest ratios of charges to EVs. Part of its plans to ramp up the use of more sustainable vehicles is to build 31,000 charging stations, manufacture 600,000 EVs, and only sell EVs in the country by 2050. The same goes for Thailand, which plans to start selling EVs exclusively by 2035. Thailand also unveiled a national roadmap for the EV industry in May outlining its plan towards greater adoption of EVs to achieve this goal. For Vietnam, in an effort to pursue the development of an EV framework, the Vietnam Automobile Manufacturing Association (VAMA) has outlined three stages in the development of Vietnam’s EV industry and proposed a 50 percent cut on registration fees for hybrid EVs, 70 percent for plug-in hybrid EVs, and 100 percent for battery-powered EVs. In the Philippines, a bill providingan electric vehicles’ energy policy and regulatory framework is pending approval by the Congressional Bicameral Conference Committee in which the proposal includes tax incentives and a 30 percent discount on vehicle registration inspection fees and motor vehicle user’s charges for nine years.
Call for Input: Vietnam Draft Decree on the Management of Imports, Exports in E-CommerceThe General Department of Vietnam Customs (GDVC) of the Ministry of Finance has published a new draft decree regulating the management of goods imported and exported through e-commerce transactions. The Council is collecting inputs from members to submit to the GDVC. Please send your inputs (preferably in Vietnamese) to Bui Kim Thuy (firstname.lastname@example.org) and Nguyen Hoai Phuong (email@example.com). The Council is also calling for sponsorship to execute an advocacy program for this draft decree. For more information, or to indicate interest, please contact Nguyen Hoai Phuong (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Country and Industry Updates
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