U.S. and ASEAN Announce Strategic Partnership
President Obama was in Kuala Lumpur Nov. 21 for the third summit between the U.S. and the ten-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). According to a joint statement, the two sides agreed to elevate their bilateral relationship to strategic partnership status as part of ongoing efforts to realize a common vision of a peaceful and prosperous Asia-Pacific region. The main goals of the strategic partnership include increasing economic cooperation, expanding maritime cooperation, cultivating the emerging leaders of ASEAN, promoting opportunity for women in ASEAN and addressing transnational challenges.
A White House fact sheet indicates that the two sides continue to work together on standards, trade facilitation (including the implementation of the ASEAN single window), connectivity and infrastructure, as well as on increasing the capacity of small- and medium-sized enterprises. The U.S. is also expanding trade and investment ties with ASEAN countries and this year launched a series of workshops to promote mutually supportive policies. The first workshop on illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing was organized earlier this month in Malaysia and two additional workshops will be held next year on illegal logging and wildlife trafficking.
In addition, the U.S. and ASEAN are seeking to deepen institutional ties by launching annual consultations on issues of mutual and strategic interest, including information communications technology and aviation, while augmenting existing consultations and cooperative work plans in energy.