NEWS | Aug. 6, 2021

The United States and ASEAN: Strategic Partners for the Indo-Pacific

By ANTONY J. BLINKEN, SECRETARY OF STATE U.S. Embassy & Consulates in Vietnam

U.S. Embassy & Consulates in Vietnam -- The United States is revitalizing our multilateral partnerships to advance our shared prosperity, security, and values in the Indo-Pacific.

This week, I was honored to represent the United States at the annual U.S.-ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Meeting. The United States remains firmly committed to the ASEAN-centered regional architecture, and we strongly support the ASEAN Outlook on the Indo-Pacific.

Our strategic partnership with ASEAN is focused on our most urgent challenges: fighting the COVID-19 pandemic and building a sustainable economic recovery. To date, the United States has provided over 23 million doses of vaccines to ASEAN members and over $158 million in emergency COVID-19 assistance. We provide these vaccines free of charge with no political or economic strings attached.

The United States intends to provide an additional $500,000 to the ASEAN COVID-19 Response Fund to support the purchase of even more life-saving vaccines. This builds on our close work with ASEAN regional health authorities on an ASEAN Public Health Emergency Coordination System.

To aid in economic recovery, I announced new programs to support ASEAN small- and medium-sized enterprises, build public-private partnerships, and help the region’s digital development and green growth. This work builds on our already strong economic foundations: U.S. foreign direct investment in ASEAN countries totaled $328.5 billion as of 2020, making the United States ASEAN’s largest source of investment. U.S. exports from almost 42,000 companies across all fifty states support more than 625,000 U.S. jobs.

I also announced new initiatives to strengthen the Young Southeast Asian Leaders Initiative and our programs that build upon our already strong people-to-people ties. These programs will both bring more Southeast Asian students to study in the United States and support local innovation through grants for young leaders working to strengthen civic education and environmental protection.

These grants are just one component of our commitment to work with ASEAN to combat the climate crisis. As I told my ASEAN counterparts, we have an opportunity to pursue a green recovery that both supports economic growth and puts us on a pathway to achieving our climate goals.

During my meeting with ASEAN, I called on the Burmese military junta to immediately end the violence, restore democratic governance, and release those unjustly detained. We also urged our ASEAN partners to hold the junta accountable to the April 24 ASEAN leaders’ five-point consensus. In that regard, I welcomed the appointment of Bruneian Foreign Minister II Erywan as ASEAN’s Special Envoy to Burma.

I am proud of the ways that we are expanding our strong, strategic partnership. The United States is committed to supporting the prosperity of our ASEAN partners and to working with ASEAN to advance peace, prosperity, and security in the Indo-Pacific.