(Washington, D.C) - On the occasion of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN)’s 50th anniversary on August 8, 2017, the US-ASEAN Business Council recognizes the regional body's achievements over the past half-century, celebrates its present vitality, and looks forward to its continued success.
Since its establishment by the Bangkok Declaration in August 8, 1967 by founding members Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, and Thailand, ASEAN has seen increasing levels of economic prosperity, political stability, and peace. Today, its 630 million citizens—also including Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, and Vietnam—comprise the world’s third largest populations and workforce, the fifth largest economy in the world, and one of the youngest regions in the world with over 380 million people under the age of 35 years old. Due to its favorable demographics, steady pace of urbanization, and growing middle class, ASEAN is poised to maintain a projected annual growth rate of over 5% a year well into the next decade.
2017 also marks the 40th anniversary of the first U.S.-ASEAN Dialogue, which launched formal relations between the U.S. and ASEAN—a relationship that was upgraded in 2015 to a Strategic Partnership, and is an increasingly vital economic, political, and strategic link to the Asia Pacific. The Council is encouraged by the U.S. government's continued investment in ASEAN, including President Trump’s meetings with the leaders of Indonesia, Singapore, and Vietnam, and his invitations to the leaders of Thailand and the Philippines to visit him in the White House this year. Other examples include Vice President Pence's visit to Indonesia and the ASEAN Secretariat in Jakarta in April 2017, and the announcement that President Trump will attend the East Asia, U.S.-ASEAN, and APEC Summits in November, all of which will be held in ASEAN countries. This year also saw the formation of the Congressional Caucus on ASEAN, which seeks to further strengthen ties between the U.S. and Southeast Asia and foster productive dialogue on Capitol Hill.
Earlier this year the Council, along with the East-West Center and the ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute, launched the third edition of its ASEAN Matters for America publication and online tool. The project can be accessed here. It collects in one place key statistics, news, infographics and analysis about the vital role ASEAN plays in America’s economic prosperity, and provides data down to the state and congressional district levels on trade and jobs connected to Southeast Asia.
“As we celebrate the 50th anniversary of ASEAN and the 40th anniversary of U.S.-ASEAN relations, it is important to reflect on just how far ASEAN has come, not only growing substantially in size and as a successful economic bloc, but also as a powerful stabilizing force for continued prosperity in Asia,” said Alexander Feldman, President and CEO of the US-ASEAN Business Council. “ASEAN centrality has been an important outcome of the region’s development and its ability to help balance and engage the major powers in Asia. As we take stock of ASEAN’s many successes—especially around the free flow of trade, more integrated capital markets, and freer movement of people—and identify new opportunities for continued growth and integration, the U.S. business community remains committed to helping ASEAN achieve its full potential for years to come.”
“The United States’ economic success is inextricably linked to its trade and investment in ASEAN,” said Ambassador Michael Michalak, Senior Vice President and Regional Managing Director of the US-ASEAN Business Council. “Globally, ASEAN is America’s fourth largest export market for American-made products and is the sixth largest market for American agriculture. Consumers in Southeast Asia buy two times the amount of U.S. goods exports as China, and nearly ten times more than India on a per capita basis. America’s exports to ASEAN support over half a million American jobs, 20 U.S states have at least one billion dollars in annual exports to ASEAN, and we have a seven billion-dollar trade surplus with ASEAN in services.”
“The socioeconomic transformation processes in ASEAN represent some of the most profound economic development success stories in the 20th century,” said Marc Mealy, Vice President-Policy of the US-ASEAN Business Council. “In just one lifetime, these relatively small nations, which depended on the production of commodities (rubber, palm oil) and low-skilled, labor-intensive manufacturing, today have diversified economies with fast-growing domestic consumption, dynamic services sectors, and industries which hold strategic positions in some of the world’s most technologically advanced global value chains in sectors such as electronics (Malaysia), automotive (Thailand), and biotechnology (Singapore).”