On July 23, 2019, the East-West Center (EWC), in collaboration with the US-ASEAN Business Council (USABC) and the ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute, released the 4th edition of the ASEAN Matters for America/America Matters for ASEAN publication. An evening reception was held on Capitol Hill to celebrate the new publication which highlights the numerous economic, cultural, diplomatic, educational, and security ties between the United States and ASEAN countries.
The publication provides data and information on the connections between the United States and the 10 member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). Founded in 1967, ASEAN is comprised of Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam. Taken as a whole, ASEAN has the 3rd largest population in the world, the 5th largest GDP, and is the 4th largest export market for the United States. ASEAN’s place at the dynamic center of the Indo-Pacific is of importance to the United States where the relationship was upgraded to a strategic partnership in 2015.
The Capitol Hill reception was attended by US policymakers and government officials, representatives from the ASEAN diplomatic missions, press, academia, entrepreneurs, and more. The event began with Dr. Satu Limaye, Vice President and Director of the East-West Center, providing opening remarks and introducing the first speaker, Representative Ann Wagner (R-MO), House Foreign Affairs Committee and Co-Chair of the Congressional Caucus on ASEAN.
“The ‘Why ASEAN Matters for America’ publication is one of our greatest resources, if not our greatest resource. Southeast Asia is obviously of deep strategic and economic importance to the United States, and the global influence is growing,” said Representative Wagner. “[The publication has] been so helpful to members of Congress and others to help us kind of visualize the impact that ASEAN investment has in our states, because that is how we relate to our constituents. We’re able to talk about the region and what they can do collectively to have an impact in our individual districts, and the importance of us coming together and talking about the kind of leadership strategies that we’re putting together.”
Alexander Feldman, President and CEO of the US-ASEAN Business Council, introduced the following speakers: Representative Ted Yoho (R-FL), House Foreign Affairs Committee and Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific; His Excellency Mahendra Siregar, Ambassador of the Republic of Indonesia to the United States of America; and Astri Kimball Van Dyke, Senior Counsel at Google.
“I’d like to thank the US-ASEAN Business Council along with the East-West Center for having me here this evening to celebrate the launch of the latest edition of the ‘Why ASEAN Matters’ publication. As lead Republican on the Subcommittee on Asia-Pacific and Nonproliferation, I’ve made the safety and security of the Indo-Pacific region one of my top priorities. ASEAN plays an essential role in achieving this goal,” said Representative Yoho.
“Allow me to convey my appreciation to the US-ASEAN Business Council, the East-West Center, and the US Congressional Caucus on ASEAN for hosting the launch of the fourth edition of ASEAN Matters for America, America Matters for ASEAN,” said Ambassador Siregar. “This publication produced by the East-West Center, US-ASEAN Business Council, and ISEAS provides insight of how the ten ASEAN members impact the US and its fifty states, as well as vice-versa.”
“Congratulations to the US-ASEAN Business Council and to the East-West Center on this insightful report, which we are very proud to be a part of,” said Astri Kimball Van Dyke. “Page 26 is my favorite of the report. Alex mentioned the growth: 240 billion, 500% increase by 2025 in the digital economy. This report truly conveys Google’s excitement about our growing business in Southeast Asia. We have five offices, we hope to have more, and as a US company we see tremendous opportunity in ASEAN as a group of rapidly growing digital economies.”
ASEAN’s role in the Indo-Pacific will likely only grow over time. ASEAN GDP is projected to grow at a 5.5% rate per year. Its middle class will double from 135 million to 334 million by 2030. With continued economic growth and its strategic location at the center of the Indo-Pacific, the United States and ASEAN partnership will be essential.
The ASEAN Matters for America project is a joint effort of the East-West Center, the US-ASEAN Business Council, and the ISEAS Yusof-Ishak Institute, and was made possible by the generous support of 3M, AIG, Chevron, Citi, Coca-Cola, ExxonMobil, Google, HP Inc., MSD, Oracle, UL, and Visa. View more data on the US-ASEAN relationship or read the full publication.