We hope your Spring is going well. It has been a busy time in ASEAN.
President’s Newsletter – April 2018
First, I want to wish all our friends in Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Thailand a very happy new year.
This past month, like those before it, has been extremely busy. We have moved issues ahead for our members in multiple countries, been hosted by the ASEAN Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors, host a number of Ministers in Washington, DC and lead a sectoral business mission to Vietnam alongside our annual Business Mission.
This week in Washington, DC we will host Deputy Prime Minister Prawit of Thailand, welcome four U.S. Ambassadors back to Washington for the start of our annual U.S. Ambassadors’ Tour. Ambassadors Donovan (Indonesia), Bitter (Laos), Davies (Thailand) and Kritenbrink (Vietnam) are the Ambassadors joining the 2018 tour.
President’s Newsletter – March 2018
It has been an eventful few weeks within the Council and outside. President Trump has announced changes in his foreign policy team and a new Deputy USTR has been confirmed. Secretary of State Tillerson is out and CIA Director Mike Pompeo has been nominated to replace him. National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster is out and John Bolton has been named as his replacement. Closer to home, the Senate confirmed Deputy U.S. Trade Representative Jeffrey D. Gerrish and he was sworn in early last week. Ambassador Gerrish will be responsible for Asia, Europe, the Middle East and Industrial Competitiveness globally. As a leading attorney focused on trade, he has known USTR Lighthizer for decades, and they are reportedly very close.
President’s Newsletter – February 2018
First, I want to wish everyone a Happy Lunar New Year! May the Year of the Dog bring you great health, happiness and prosperity.
As we head towards March, the Council’s schedule is really starting to heat up. We just welcomed a U.S. Congressional Delegation in Indonesia, Singapore and Thailand and gave our members based in these countries an opportunity to hear directly from American lawmakers about what is happening in Washington, as well as for the Congressmen to learn from our members about important issues in the region. Among the members of Congress on the delegation were Congressman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA), Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee who led the delegation as well as Chairman Ted Yoho (R-FL) who Chairs the House Foreign Affairs’ Subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific.
Happy New Year! We are off to an exciting start to 2018 and on behalf of the entire Council team, I wanted to take this opportunity to offer our best wishes for a happy, healthy and successful New Year.
Commencing January 1, The Council welcomes its new Board of Directors of 25 directors plus our Chairman and myself, as President & CEO. The new board is much smaller than our previous board of 67 directors, but still represents the breath of Council membership across major industries. We are grateful to our Chairman Keith Williams for his continued leadership.
2018 will also mark the launch of our new Chairman’s Council Advisory Board. We are excited for the possibilities that it offers to our Chairman’s Council members and the ability for them to help drive the direction of the Council and the services we offer to our members.
Happy Holidays and my best wishes for a wonderful 2018.
We are wrapping up another great year for the Council, our members and staff. As I hope you all were aware, 2017 was a significant year for ASEAN and US-ASEAN relations – marking the 50th and 40th anniversaries respectively. The Council was involved in a number of events to mark these anniversaries, but we are most proud of our role in the launch of the Congressional Caucus on ASEAN as well as the third edition of ASEAN Matters. We were also honored that our efforts over our 33 year history culminated in being recognized as the voice of the American private sector by President Trump and the Leaders of the ASEAN countries in the US-ASEAN Summit Leaders Statement, which can be found here.
President’s Newsletter – November 2017
Greetings from Washington. I have just returned to Washington after a trip to Vietnam and the Philippines where I attended the APEC CEO Summit and the ASEAN Business and Investment Summits. I also had the honor of representing the Council at the State Dinner in honor of President Trump’s first visit to Hanoi.
It is with great sadness that I announce the passing of one of the Council’s original board members and supporters, Washington SyCip, at the age of 96, on a flight on his way to a dinner and meetings in the United States. Wash was a wonderful friend of the Council throughout our 33 years of existence. He engaged us at every opportunity, including during our last Council business mission to the Philippines in July where he made a special effort to attend the reception that Ambassador Kim held in honor of our delegation, despite having two other engagements that evening. He also accompanied us to every meeting at Malacañang Palace since I became President of the Council in 2009. Wash was one of the great men of Asia, though he was very humble and did not make a big deal of his success in business or philanthropy.
The last month proved to be another exciting and consequential month for ASEAN and the Council. The Trump Administration continued to place a high priority on engaging the region. Malaysia’s Prime Minister Najib Razak was invited to the White House last week, and the Council co-hosted him for dinner after his meeting with President Trump. Prime Minister Najib offered his support for the U.S. economy, highlighting Malaysian Airlines’ MOU signing that evening in which it committed to purchase 33 Boeing airplanes valued at over $4 billion. GE engines are in the running to power these aircraft. Malaysia’s Employees Provident Fund, a pension fund with close to $7 billion invested in the U.S., and the sovereign fund Khazanah with approximately $400 million invested in U.S. high-tech companies were also highlighted by the Prime Minister as ways Malaysia is contributing to the U.S. economy.
August 8 marked a major milestone in ASEAN History. On this date in 1967, five nations (Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore and Thailand) met in Bangkok to sign the Bangkok Declaration that formally established the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). It was a monumental undertaking which, 50 years later, would lead to a ten-nation regional grouping which together is home to the third largest population on the planet and the world's fifth largest economy. From an American business perspective, ASEAN is our fourth largest export market and the largest destination for U.S. foreign direct investment in Asia. It is also one of the youngest regions in the world with over 380 million people under the age of 35 and one of the fastest growing economies on earth with 5% average growth per year expected well into the next century.