Members of Congress, executive branch officials, and private sector leaders celebrated the release of the 5th edition of ASEAN Matters for America / America Matters for ASEAN (ASEAN Matters) at a virtual launch and in-person reception on July 21. Leaders praised the new publication and emphasized the importance of America’s relationship with the region in remarks at the virtual proceedings, which were hosted by the East-West Center (EWC), US-ASEAN Business Council, and ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute.
A critical component of the East-West Center in Washington’s flagship Asia Matters for America program, ASEAN Matters spotlights the multifaceted economic, diplomatic, and cultural ties between the United States and the members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). Readers can explore these relationships and the impact they have on communities across the United States through the numerous infographics, detailed data, and thoughtful analysis included in the publication.
The release of ASEAN Matters comes at a time of growing interconnectivity between the United States and the dynamic Southeast Asian region. As the publication notes, the United States is now ASEAN’s second biggest trading partner and has invested more in the bloc than in China, Japan, India, and South Korea combined, highlighting just some of the deep connections between America and Southeast Asia.
Several members of Congress, including Sen. Tammy Duckworth (IL) and Reps. Ami Bera (CA-07), Young Kim (CA-39), and Gregory Meeks (NY-05), showed their appreciation for the new publication by providing remarks for the launch, while Rep. Steve Chabot (OH-01) attended the virtual event to share his unique perspective on US-ASEAN relations.
“As the report’s name says, ASEAN matters for America. That's true whether it’s our strategic, economic, or people-to-people ties. Our relationship with ASEAN is critical to US engagement in Asia,” Rep. Chabot commented.
“At the federal government level, we’ve been talking for years across presidential administrations of both parties about the importance of the strengthening of our relationship in the Indo-Pacific region in general and in Southeast Asia in particular. Right now, this ASEAN Matters for America publication does a phenomenal job of showing how strong those ties already are on so many levels, from trade and industry to education, to tourism and the people-to-people connections that drive so many of our relationships and goodwill among us,” remarked Sen. Duckworth.
In addition to remarks from members of Congress and other leading figures, the virtual launch also featured a pair of related “fireside chats” with commentary from experts representing government and business. EWC Vice President Satu Limaye moderated the first discussion on “New Directions in US-Southeast Asia Relations,” while Ambassador Michael Michalak, Senior Vice President and Regional Managing Director of the US-ASEAN Business Council, hosted the second on “Healthcare & Economic Development in Southeast Asia.”
The ASEAN Matters virtual launch drew significant public interest, garnering around 400 viewers, while almost 100 guests attended the in-person reception. EWC plans to release additional publications later this year as part of the Asia Matters for America initiative, including the inaugural edition of The Pacific Islands Matter for America / America Matters for the Pacific Islands.
Patrick Madaj and Abbigail Hull are Projects Coordinators at the East-West Center in Washington.