(Semarang, Indonesia) The US-ASEAN Business Council, a longstanding partner of ASEAN and part of the ASEAN Charter, led a business delegation to the 55th ASEAN Economic Ministers’ (AEM) Meeting for the 24th consecutive year.
The delegation took part in the annual AEM consultation with the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR), which was co-chaired by Indonesian Minister of Trade Zulkifli Hasan and Ambassador Katherine Tai from USTR. The Council also conducted bilateral meetings with high-level officials from the Philippines, Vietnam, Laos, Indonesia, Singapore, the ASEAN Secretariat, and the USTR.
In line with Indonesia's Priority Economic Deliverables as the 2023 ASEAN Chair, the Business Mission focused on three pivotal themes: enhancing ASEAN's global economic competitiveness with a robust, high-standard, and commercially meaningful digital economy framework agreement (DEFA); promoting harmonization of standards and interoperability in building the digital ecosystem; and providing support for the region's transition towards a green and sustainable economy.
Members of the delegation, representing leading U.S. technology, financial services, food & agriculture, and entertainment companies, called on the Economic Ministers to strengthen digital trust and build ecosystems that accelerate investments, while also supporting the transition to a more carbon-neutral economic growth and development. The U.S. business community thus encouraged ASEAN Member States to actively engage in robust, rules-based, high-quality, and high-standard digital agreements. The delegation also underscored the significance of a sustainable trade policy agenda, including measures to facilitate regulatory convergence and catalyze investments that drive net zero objectives
"ASEAN's development of the Economic Community is now even more fundamental for ASEAN member states (AMS) in tackling global economic fragmentation. Deepening cooperation and integration is in the collective interests of all AMS in safeguarding the effectiveness and relevance of ASEAN as an integrated, coordinated platform that exceeds the sum of its parts,
“In today’s increasingly fragmented global economic environment, deepening regional economic cooperation and integration in the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) is even more fundamental to supporting economic growth in each member nation. The American business community believes that an effective ASEAN collective strategy linking digital economy development to promoting more sustainable and inclusive economies offers tremendous opportunities for ASEAN." shared Mr. Marc P. Mealy, the Council's Chief Policy Officer & Senior Vice President of Research and head of the delegation for the Business Mission. He added, " ASEAN’s collective strategy needs to be complemented by continuing structural reforms and strategic investments that are regional, including improvements in regulatory formulation and implementation, infrastructure and connectivity, and human capital development. If ASEAN can continue to develop its ecosystems which strengthen digital trust and accelerate the transition to more carbon-neutral economic growth, its economies can continue to promote prosperity for its citizens as Asia’s leading regional economic hub.”
The Business Mission was co-led by Ms. Alexandra Stuart, Vice President for Government Engagement, Southeast Asia and International Affairs at Visa, and Dr. Lovneesh Chanana, Vice President, Government Affairs, Asia Pacific and Japan—both of whom served as Vice Chairs of the Council's ASEAN Committee.
In support of the three themes of the Business Mission, the Council submitted a Recommendations Paper to the ASEAN Economic Ministers titled: Building a Digital and Sustainable Economic Ecosystem for ASEAN. The paper highlights several key initiatives and recommendations from the U.S. industry’s perspective that are critical not only to accelerate digital and green transformation across the region, but also to maximize economic gains.
US-ABC member companies participating in the business mission include ADM, Amazon Web Services, Apple Inc., Hasbro, Meta, SAP, and Visa.