(Bangkok, Thailand) – The US-ASEAN Business Council led its 20th consecutive delegation to the 51st ASEAN Economic Ministers’ Meeting (AEM) for a business mission September 8-10. The delegation had plenary meeting with all ASEAN Economic Ministers, bilateral meetings with heads of delegation from six ASEAN Member States, the ASEAN Secretariat, and the ASEAN Business Advisory Council, U.S. Government officials from the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR), the U.S. Mission to ASEAN, and United States Agency for International Development (USAID).
The Council presented its ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) White Paper 2019, “Harnessing Momentum Towards Greater ASEAN Economic Integration: Recommendations in a Time of Change” at the AEM-USTR Consultation. It focused on advocating for the rapid realization of an ASEAN Single Market and identifying key reforms to help achieve this goal in response to current uncertainties in global trade, positioning U.S. companies as crucial partners in driving economic integration and ensuring consistent stakeholder engagement on cross-sector issues such as e-commerce, trade facilitation, and standards.
During the mission, US-ABC delegates joined U.S. Trade Representatives, for an AEM-USTR Consultation. In the consultation, the Council shared its view on the current uncertainty in the global environment and the importance of doubling down the ASEAN economic integration process. The Council also shared views on the Digital Economy, updated the on-going commitments towards implementing the ASEAN SME Academy and U.S.-ASEAN Internship Program as well as presented the Council’s signature program: AEM-TELMIN Digital Economy Roadshow to the United States in November. The roadshow will provide participants with a unique opportunity to see and discuss emerging technologies at the forefront of Industry 4.0 across three American cities.
The mission was led by Ambassador (ret.) Michael W. Michalak, Senior Vice President and Regional Managing Director of the US-ASEAN Business Council and co-led by Vice Chair of the Council’s ASEAN Committee, Shiumei Lin, Vice President of Public Affairs at UPS for the Asia Pacific Region.
“US-ABC has been privileged to conduct an annual dialogue with the ASEAN Economic Ministers during the annual AEM meetings for the past 20 years, and this engagement has served as the centerpiece of our efforts to support a more integrated, prosperous ASEAN,” said Ambassador Michalak. “The Council strongly supports the establishment of the AEC. The AEC represents a regional economic strategic imperative for sustaining both ASEAN’s global competitiveness to attract its share of global FDI flows and centrality in the evolution of Asia’s regional trade and financial architectures.”
“ASEAN is at an important milestone in its economic journey,” said Shiumei Lin. “We should be asking ourselves where we want to come out against a backdrop of shifting supply chains, digital transformation, and restructuring of businesses. U.S. businesses call for ASEAN Economic Ministers is to double down on regional integration, create new scale, and establish the foundations of a successful digital economy to future-proof ASEAN.”
“The more efficient, unified, and free ASEAN’s markets can become, the more American companies will invest, employ, and trade in them” said Ambassador Michalak. “The Council is eager to help fulfill the vision of the AEC while still working towards the next set of goals expressed in ASEAN Vision 2025. As ASEAN continues its regional economic integration efforts, the Council and its members are well-positioned to offer support.”
The delegation also held bilateral meetings with several key officials, including:
- His Excellency YB Dato Seri Setia Dr. Awang Hj. Mohd Amin Liew bin Abdullah, CFA, Minister at the Prime Minister’s Office and Minister of Finance and Economy II, Brunei Darussalam
- H.E. Pan Sorasak, Minister of Commerce, Kingdom of Cambodia;
- H.E. Enggartiasto Lukita, Minister of Trade, Republic of Indonesia;
- H.E. U Thaung Tun, Union Minister for Investment and Foreign Economic Relations, Republic of the Union of Myanmar;
- Mr. Ceferino S. Rodolfo, Undersecretary of Industry Development and Trade Policy Group, Department of Trade and Industry, Republic of the Philippines;
- Mr. Tran Quoc Khanh, Deputy Minister of Industry and Trade, Socialist Republic of Vietnam;
- H.E. Dato Paduka Lim Jock Hoi, Secretary-General of ASEAN;
- Ambassador Jeffrey Gerrish, Deputy USTR for Asia, Europe, the Middle East and Industrial Competitiveness;
- Ms. Melissa Brown, Chargé d’Affaires, ad interim, U.S. Mission to ASEAN;
- Ms. Erin McKee, Mission Director for USAID; and
- Mr. Arin Jira, Chairman of ASEAN Business Advisory Council (ASEAN-BAC) and Mr. Gil Gonzales, Executive Director of ASEAN-BAC.
US-ABC member companies participating in the mission included AIG, Amazon, Caterpillar, Citi, Facebook, FedEx, Ford, Google, IBM, KKR, PayPal, Philip Morris Trading (Thailand) Company Limited, Qualcomm and UPS.
Ambassador (ret.) Michael W. Michalak, the Council's Senior Vice President and Regional Managing Director, shakes hands with H.E. Dato Paduka Lim Jock Hoi, Secretary General of ASEAN, during the mission.