Special ASEAN-US Summit to Enhance Strategic Partnership
ASEAN and the Unites States are scheduled to hold a special summit in Washington D.C. on May 12 - 13 to mark 45 years of relations and to chart a future course for its strategic partnership over the coming years.
The summit is the second of its kind to be held since 2016 and the first with in-person participation of ASEAN and US leaders since 2017.
Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh will attend the summit at the invitation of President Joseph Robinette Biden Jr. The summit is set to take place in Washington D.C. On the occasion, PM Chinh will visit the US and the United Nations from May 11-17.
|President Joe Biden addresses the ninth ASEAN-US summit in October 2021.
Both sides initially established dialogue relations in 1977 and lifted their relationship to the level of strategic partnership in 2015. Over the past 45 years, this relationship has evolved from an exchange of views on political and security issues to a wide range of co-operation areas across the three Community pillars, reported VOV.
The US has engaged with the bloc in political-security matters through their active participation in the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF), ASEAN Defence Ministers’ Meeting Plus (ADMM-Plus), and the East Asia Summit (EAS). Areas of mutual interest cover areas such as maritime security, cyber security, and combatting transnational crime, including terrorism and trafficking in persons, among others.
In terms of economic co-operation, the US remains an important trading partner of ASEAN, with total two-way trade in 2020 reaching US$ 308.3 billion, making it the second largest trading partner of the bloc among Dialogue Partners. The US is also the group’s largest external source of foreign direct investment (FDI), with a total inflow amounting to US$ 34.7 billion (statistics in 2020).
The ASEAN Economic Ministers-US Trade Representative Consultations and ASEAN Senior Economic Officials-Assistant USTR Consultations are held annually in a bid to promote trade and investment flows between both sides, as well as offering a platform to exchange views on a range of economic issues.
Both sides will continue to intensify their trade and investment ties through the implementation of the 2021 to 2022 ASEAN-US Trade and Investment Framework Arrangement (TIFA) and the Expanded Economic Engagement Work Plan, as endorsed by the ASEAN Economic Ministers and the US Trade Representative Consultations in September, 2021.
With regard to socio-cultural co-operation, ASEAN and the US are working together in a number of areas, including disaster management, promotion, and protection of the rights of women and children, as well as education and youth.
Both sides have agreed to increase cultural exchanges and people-to-people connectivity through initiatives such as the Young Southeast Asian Leaders Initiative (YSEALI), the Fulbright US-ASEAN Visiting Scholar, and the US-Science Prize for Women. This is in addition to as the ASEAN Youth Volunteer Programme and Connecting the Mekong through Education and Training (COMET).
Collaboration has been stepped up in the fight against Covid-19 through a series of high-level engagements and initiatives. Notable efforts include the US donating US$ 500,000 to the Covid-19 ASEAN Response Fund, the inauguration of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Regional Office in Hanoi, as well as a pledge of an additional US$ 194 million in Covid-19 related assistance for the region.
The US has so far deployed two development cooperation programs with ASEAN, namely the Inclusive Growth in ASEAN Through Innovation, Trade and Commerce (IGNITE), and the ASEAN-USAID Partnership for Regional Optimization within the Political-Security and Socio-Cultural Communities (PROSPECT).
At the third ASEAN-US Summit in November 2015, leaders of the two sides announced the elevation of the ASEAN-US dialogue relations to the strategic level.
Building on the aforesaid backgrounds, this year's summit is the continuation of high-level engagement between ASEAN and the U.S.
During the summit, the leaders are expected to review the outcomes of bilateral cooperation over the past 45 years and charter orientations for future cooperation, and exchange views on regional and international issues of shared concerns.
The leaders are expected to have in-depth discussions on such topics as economy, trade, investment, maritime security, post-Covid recovery, climate change, energy, and sustainable infrastructure development.
|Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh arrives in Washington D.C. on May 11 morning (local time) to attend the Special ASEAN - US Summit. Photo: VGP
Vietnamese Ambassador to the US Nguyen Quoc Dung emphasized with the Vietnam News Agency (VNA) the significance of the upcoming summit, saying that the resolve of US President Biden and ASEAN leaders to organize the summit despite uncertainties in Europe, especially the conflict in Ukraine, demonstrates the importance they attach to the relationship.
Dung expressed his belief that the ASEAN-US collaboration will be strengthened in such spheres as infrastructure, digital economy, smart city development, clean energy transformation, health care, epidemic prevention and control, and climate change response.
Ambassador Dung is also optimistic about the good prospects for cooperation between Vietnam and the US, which, he said, meets the interests of their people.
The ambassador said besides attending the summit, PM Chinh is scheduled to engage in bilateral activities with the US side, including meetings with representatives from the US administration and parliament, business people and scholars. He will also visit some high-tech facilities in the country.
|US Ambassador to Vietnam Marc Knapper, Vietnamese Ambassador to the US Nguyen Quoc Dung and officials and employees of the Vietnamese Embassy in the US welcomed Prime Minister Chinh (second, right) at Andrews Air Force Base. Photo: VGP
According to Pham Quang Vinh, former Vietnamese Ambassador to the US, the global superpower places great importance on the Asia-Pacific region, including ASEAN, and is therefore keen to strengthen co-operation with ASEAN to benefit the US in terms of geopolitics and economic interests.
With regard to peace and security, the bloc plays a central role in the region and holds a highly important position in the multilateral process as it seeks to create an environment of peace, stability, and cooperation only between Southeast Asian countries, but also with other important partners on the basis of compliance with international law.
Expanding cooperation in economics and in responding to traditional and non-traditional security challenges are matters of US concern, and Washington is currently pouring more investment into the Asia-Pacific region than elsewhere.
The most-pressing emerging issue is how to overcome the Covid-19 pandemic and recover the economy, whilst continuing to develop and maintain a stable, peaceful, and cooperative environment, says Vinh. Other issues to be addressed are those related to the East Sea, freedom of navigation, and trust-building.
Co-operation between the bloc and the US, as well as with other partners such as China, India, Japan, and the Republic of Korea are very practical for the group itself, helping it to take advantage of resources, whilst simultaneously bringing benefits to the US, said the diplomat.
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