The US-ASEAN Business Council’s annual Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Ambassadors’ Tour brought the Ambassadors of eight ASEAN countries to visit Louisville, Kentucky as part of the Council’s efforts to promote the importance of ASEAN to the United States. The delegation engaged with a range of leading business, civil society, and local government representatives, highlighting the potential for increased trade and investment between Kentucky and Southeast Asia. The ambassadors from Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, and Thailand joined the trip, while the embassies from Vietnam and Singapore were represented by their Deputy Chief of Mission and Economic Counselor, respectively.
“With Kentucky’s $1.5 billion in exports to Southeast Asia, the ‘Bluegrass State’ is a prime example of why ASEAN matters to the U.S.,” said Alexander C. Feldman, President and CEO of the US-ASEAN Business Council. “While this visit to Louisville was the first for many Ambassadors in the delegation, because of its booming logistics, automotive, food and beverage, and aerospace industries, it likely won’t be their last.”
Kentucky is one of 20 states that export more than $1 billion worth of goods to ASEAN annually. More details about U.S.-ASEAN trade can be found at www.aseanmattersforamerica.org. Previous ASEAN Ambassadors’ Tours have visited Atlanta, Chicago, Houston, and Memphis.
The delegation engaged with Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin and Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer. The Governor and Mayor highlighted some of Kentucky’s tax incentives and other subsidies to encourage incoming investment. The Ambassadors pointed to the opportunities in ASEAN for Kentucky-based aerospace, medical devices, and technology companies. The delegation also discussed the importance of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) to the U.S. economy. The TPP would remove numerous tariff barriers, which could have a particularly positive effect introducing Kentucky’s famous bourbon distilleries to a market of over 600 million consumers. ASEAN is already America’s fourth largest export market.
The delegation also met with some of the companies that drive the strong Kentucky-ASEAN trade relationship, including a tour of UPS’ bustling WorldPort facility at Louisville International Airport, the largest fully automated package handling facility in the world, and a visit to Yum! Brand’s headquarters, which included briefings on its food innovation and quality assurance programs. The group also had a tour of UL’s Additive Manufacturing Competency Center at the University of Louisville to learn about innovative manufacturing technologies. In addition to the company visits, the delegation also held a roundtable discussion with professors from the University of Louisville Political Science and Asian Studies departments and visited the Courier-Journal newspaper.
Participants on the delegation included:
- H.E. Dato Paduka Serbini Ali, Ambassador of Brunei Darussalam
- H.E. Chum Bun Rong, Ambassador of Cambodia
- H.E. Budi Bowoleksono, Ambassador of Indonesia
- H.E. Mai Sayavongs, Ambassador of Laos
- H.E. Awang Adek bin Hussin, Ambassador of Malaysia
- H.E. Kyaw Myo Htut, Ambassador of Myanmar
- H.E. Jose L. Cuisia, Jr., Ambassador of the Philippines
- Ms. Jasmine Quah Zubair, Economic Counselor, Embassy of Singapore
- H.E. Pisan Manawapat, Ambassador of Thailand
- Mr. Nguyen Huy Dung, Deputy Chief of Mission, Embassy of Vietnam