Delegation of U.S. Companies Meet Alongside ASEAN Economic Ministers to Discuss Digital Transformation and E-Commerce

The US-ASEAN Business Council led its 21st consecutive delegation to the 52nd ASEAN Economic Ministers’ Meeting (AEM), beginning with a consultative plenary session with all ten ASEAN Economic Ministers Co- Chaired by Vietnam Minister of Industry and Trade Tran Tuan Anh, and the U.S. Trade Representative Ambassador Robert Lighthizer. Over the next two weeks, US-ABC delegates will hold a series of bilateral meetings with heads of delegation from ASEAN Member States, the ASEAN Secretariat, the ASEAN Business Advisory Council, U.S. Government officials from the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR), and the U.S. Mission to ASEAN.

During the plenary session, the Council shared its view on uncertainty surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic, and proposed actionable steps and contributions toward economic recovery, including through the Council’s COVID-19 Economic Recovery Task Force. The delegation also discussed the importance of digital trade agreements as a catalyst to accelerate digital transformation. During the session, delegates from US-ABC presented the Council’s recent E-Commerce Report “A Vision for Cross-Border E-Commerce in ASEAN” to the AEM. Moreover, the Council is proud to demonstrate its commitment to digitalization by integrating these themes into ongoing programs as the ASEAN SME Academy , U.S. – ASEAN Internship Program, standards and innovation committee work, , and Digital Trade Roadshow.

The mission was co-led by Alexander Feldman, Chairman, President & CEO of the US-ASEAN Business Council, Chair of the Council’s ASEAN Committee, Simon Dale, who is also Managing Director-South East Asia, Adobe as well as Council Senior Vice President and Regional Managing Director Ambassador Michael Michalak.

“This is a crucial time for ASEAN to double down on efforts to implement greater ASEAN economic integration, especially digital integration, as well as to work harder than ever to achieve the goals of the ASEAN Economic Community. As many countries around the world are putting up barriers to trade, ASEAN would be best served by uniting and focusing on becoming a more open, coherent 650-million-person market that remains a staunch defender of the rules-based, transparent global trading system. This is the reason why trade agreements are important, and we encourage ASEAN and the United States to look to link Digital Economy Agreements that already exist in the Indo-Pacific and ensure the future of US-ASEAN digital economy cooperation is secure.” said Alexander Feldman.

“Through the COVID-19 pandemic, people have come to realise that the only way to transact is online. There’s been an uptake of E-Commerce and a significant shift to all things digital, from the initial transactions of essential goods to the trend of every single good transacted online. It is now more critical than ever for ASEAN economies to establish strong integrations across borders to build trust and facilitate that digital exchange – from E-Commerce, to standards for digital documents, and electronic signatures,” said Simon Dale.

The AEM was attended by:
• H.E. Tran Tuan Anh, Minister of Industry and Trade, Vietnam and 2020 Chair of AEM
• The Honorable Robert E. Lighthizer, United States Trade Representative
• 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. Agus Suparmanto, Minister of Trade, Republic of Indonesia;
• H.E. Khemmani Pholsena, Minister of Industry and Commerce, Lao PDR;
• H.E. YB Dato Seri Mohamed Azmin Ali, Minister of International Trade and Industry, Malaysia;
• H.E. U Thaung Tun, Union Minister of Investment and Foreign Economic Relations, Republic of the Union Myanmar;
• The Honorable Ramon Lopez, Secretary of Trade and Industry, Philippines
• H.E. Chan Chun Sing, Minister of Trade and Industry, Singapore;
• H.E. Dr. Sansern Samalapa, Vice Minister of Commerce, Thailand;
• H.E. Dato Paduka Lim Jock Hoi, Secretary-General of ASEAN;

US-ABC member companies participating in the mission included Adobe, AIG, Amazon, BowerGroupAsia, Citi, Facebook, FedEx, Ford, Google, McLarty Associates, UL, UPS, Visa and VMware.

########################################################################################

For over 35 years, the US-ASEAN Business Council has been the premier advocacy organization for US corporations operating within the dynamic Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). Worldwide, the Council's membership, more than 160 companies, generate over $6 trillion in revenue and employ more than 13 million people globally. Members include the largest US companies conducting business in ASEAN, and range from newcomers to the region to companies that have been working in Southeast Asia for over 100 years. The Council has offices in: Washington, DC; New York, NY; Bangkok, Thailand; Hanoi, Vietnam; Jakarta, Indonesia; Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia; Manila, Philippines; and Singapore.