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ASEAN

ASEAN [Pronounced ‘Ah-SEE-an’ or ‘AY-sian’]. The abbreviation of, and common name for, the Association of South-East Asian Nations, a regional organization for economic, social, and cultural cooperation formed in 1967 by INDONESIA, Malaysia, the PHILIPPINES, Singapore, and Thailand. BRUNEI joined in 1984, Vietnam in 1995, and BURMA/Myanmar and Laos in 1997. The working language of ASEAN is English.

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ASEAN

ASEAN / ˈäsēˌän; ˈas-/ • abbr. Association of Southeast Asian Nations.

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ASEAN

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ASEAN

ASEAN (ˈæsɪˌæn) Association of South East Asian Nations

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Asean

Asean

PROFILE
GEOGRAPHY
HISTORY
INSTITUTIONS
ASEAN
ECONOMY
THE UNITED STATES AND ASEAN

Last Updated: March 2008

Official Name:

Association of Southeast Asian Nations

Editor's note: The information in this article has been compiled and edited from ASEAN Background Notes, Press Releases, and Fact Sheets made available 2001-2008 from the Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs of the U.S. Department of State.

PROFILE

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) was formed in 1967 by Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philip-pines, Singapore, and Thailand to promote political and economic cooperation and regional stability. U.S. relations with ASEAN have been excellent since its inception.

The ASEAN chairmanship rotates annually on an alphabetical basis. The current chair is Vietnam.

The ASEAN Declaration in 1976, considered ASEAN's foundation document, formalized the principles of peace and cooperation to which ASEAN is dedicated.

Brunei joined in 1984, shortly after its independence from the United Kingdom, and Vietnam joined ASEAN as its seventh member in 1995. Laos and Burma were admitted into full membership in July 1997 as ASEAN celebrated its 30th anniversary. Cambodia became ASEAN's tenth member in 1999.

The Association commands far greater influence on Asia-Pacific trade, political, and security issues than its members could achieve individually. ASEAN's success has been based largely on its use of consultation, consensus, and cooperation.

ASEAN took the first steps toward an ASEAN Free Trade Area (AFTA) in 1993, when it agreed to eliminate most tariffs on manufactured goods between members over the following decade.

Every year following the ASEAN Ministerial Meeting in July, ASEAN holds its Post-Ministerial Conference (PMC), where it meets with its ten Dialogue Partners. These are Australia, Canada, China, European Union, India, Japan, Republic of Korea, New Zealand, Russia, and the United States. The Secretary participated in the July 2000 meeting in Bangkok.

In 1994, ASEAN took the lead in establishing the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF), which now has 26 members and meets each year at the ministerial level just before the PMC. The ARF is the only region-wide governmental security forum. Its goal is to promote regional stability and peace, and it is now looking at the overlap between confidence building measures, where it has been active, and preventive diplomacy.

GEOGRAPHY

Located in Southeast Asia on the Malay Peninsula and the islands to the south and east in the South China Sea, the ten ASEAN states adjoin some of the most important sea lanes in the world. The ASEAN states lie astride the Equator and extend from roughly 1,600 kilometers (1,000 mi.) north to 800 kilometers (500 mi.) south.

HISTORY

ASEAN was founded officially on August 8, 1967, with the signing of the Bangkok Declaration by the foreign ministers of the original five members. The organization was created to strengthen regional cohesion and self-reliance through economic, social, and cultural cooperation. It developed slowly during its first decade, partly because of diverse economic interests, varied historical experience, and the initially fragile political ties among the five original states.

Brunei Darussalam, formerly a British protectorate, joined ASEAN as its sixth member state in January 1984, shortly after attainment of full independence.

To curb external interference, in 1971 the ASEAN nations set as their goal the establishment of a zone of peace, freedom, and neutrality (ZOPFAN) for Southeast Asia, and this was included in the Bali Declaration signed by the ASEAN heads of government in 1976. This concept remains a long-term objective. The fall of the Republic of Vietnam in 1975 led to a new phase of ASEAN relations.

In 1976, the first ASEAN summit conference was convened in Bali, Indonesia, and collaboration among ASEAN states took a major step forward with the signing of the Declaration of ASEAN Concord. Aimed at promoting cooperative activities in industry, trade, and other fields, this declaration remains the major “constitutional base” for ASEAN cooperation. It also authorized the formation of the ASEAN Secretariat in Jakarta.

Growing Cooperation

The Vietnamese invasion of Cambodia, starting in December 1978, played a key role in furthering ASEAN collaboration. During the 1980s, the ASEAN nations successfully managed passage of yearly UN General Assembly resolutions calling for an end to Vietnamese occupation and were instrumental in the 1991 peace settlement in Cambodia. These accomplishments and the political cooperation thus fostered have been ASEAN's major political achievements.

Diverse economic interests and levels of development have limited the extent of economic cooperation between member nations. However, the collapse of international commodity prices in the mid-1980s and the subsequent downturn in the economies of several ASEAN nations spurred regional leaders to initiate serious economic reforms and trade liberalization plans. The December 1987 ASEAN summit gave new impetus to reducing internal trade barriers and establishing joint industrial projects; it also fostered closer coordination on economic issues by ASEAN governments, particularly in international forums. The 1989 creation of APEC (Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation, an informal economic grouping of the U.S., Canada, Japan, South Korea, Australia, New Zealand, and ASEAN, which expanded in 1991 to include the People's Republic of China, Taiwan, and Hong Kong) has provided an additional important venue in which ASEAN representatives can meet and discuss issues of broader regional importance. ASEAN economic ministers in 1991 agreed to move toward an ASEAN Free Trade Area (AFTA). The decision to create AFTA was taken by ASEAN heads of government at the fourth ASEAN summit in January 1992.

INSTITUTIONS

Since its inception, ASEAN gradually has developed a number of formal, regular consultative meetings and committees, but it has only a very limited permanent structure. Decisions are made by consensus and often are achieved through informal, ad hoc consultations. However, there are several formal bodies that consult and make decisions on various common issues.

Foreign Ministers’ Meetings

The periodic meetings of the six foreign ministers constitute the principal decision-making body for ASEAN. In addition to their regular annual sessions in June or July, the foreign ministers gather on other occasions as needed. The venue of the ministerial meetings rotates annually among the six countries.

The foreign ministers’ meetings have assumed a prominent role partially as a result of events in Indochina. Recognizing the importance of a unified front on the Cambodia question, ASEAN has used the foreign ministers’ consultations to reaffirm their common stand. Periodic meetings of senior officials plan for and supplement the work of the foreign ministers. In addition, an ASEAN Standing Committee, composed of ambassadors resident in the venue of the ministerial meeting and chaired by the foreign minister of the host country, meets as needed.

ASEAN

Members:Brunei, Burma (Myanmar), Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam.

Regional Forum (ARF) Members: The ten members of ASEAN plus Australia, Bangladesh, Canada, China, European Union, India, Japan, Democratic Peoples’ Republic of Korea, Republic of Korea, Mongolia, New Zealand, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, Russia, Timor Leste (East Timor), and the United States.

Economic Ministers’ Meetings

The economic ministers usually meet twice a year to discuss common approaches to economic questions and to review cooperative programs. Decisions on economic questions are then referred to the foreign ministers or heads of government for final approval. Various sectoral committees, subcommittees, and working groups have been established to deal with specific economic and social issues. Regular ministerial consultations also are held in such sectors as labor, social welfare, education, energy, and information.

The ASEAN Secretariat

The ASEAN Secretariat is located in Jakarta in a headquarters building provided by the Indonesian Government. The ASEAN states have not favored development of a strong central coordinating authority. The Secretariat is limited in size and is tasked mainly with serving the various ministerial meetings and committees. It has been suggested that the Secretariat might serve as a regional research, information, and statistical center, but this and other roles have not yet been authorized.

Complementing the ASEAN Secretariat, each government maintains its own National Secretariat in its Foreign Ministry; these vary in size and function. The six National Secretariats are responsible to their own governments.

ASEAN Post-Ministerial Conference (PMC)

ASEAN began establishing “DDialogue Partner” relationships in 1977 with countries that have major interests in the region. There are now ten Dialogue Partners. Each July, the ASEAN Foreign Ministers meet with the Dialogue Partners at the Post-Ministerial Conference (PMC), immediately following the ASEAN Ministerial Meeting, thus the name “PMC.”

In recent years, ASEAN has been struggling to redefine the PMC and find a useful place for it between the ARF with its security portfolio and APEC with its economic agenda. The last several PMCs focused increasingly on international economic and political issues and on transnational issues, such as crime, narcotics, trafficking in persons, environment, and health. This year, however, transnational issues were omitted from the PMC agenda.

The U.S. feels that the PMC has an important role in ASEAN's relations with the rest of the Asia-Pacific region. We believe it could most usefully serve as a forum for discussing transnational issues and political issues outside the region, subjects not covered by either ARF or APEC. Transnational issues are threats common to all PMC participants. ASEAN identified them as priority concerns for the ASEAN region in its own 1998 Hanoi Plan of Action (HPA). We hope the PMC will return to a discussion of transnational issues next year.

ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF)

The ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) draws together 26 countries involved in the security of the Asia-Pacific region. The ARF, which first met in 1994, provides a forum in which members can discuss regional political and security issues and develop cooperative measures to contribute to the maintenance of peace and security and the avoidance of conflict. ARF meetings are held at the Foreign Minister level, annually in late July, in conjunction with the ASEAN Post Ministerial Conference (PMC). Chairmanship of the ARF is in line with the annual rotation of the Chairmanship of ASEAN. The principal formal ARF document is the ARF Chairman's Statement issued after every ARF ministerial meeting. The Senior Officials Meeting (SOM) and the Inter-Sessional Support Group on Confidence Building Measures (ISG/ CBMs) support the work of Ministers.

The ARF is characterized by minimal institutionalization and consensus decision-making. Participants have agreed on a three-stage evolution of confidence-building, preventive diplomacy and, in the longer term, approaches to conflict resolution.

The ARF's work program includes encouragement and development of confidence-building measures, such as promoting participation in international arms control and non-proliferation regimes and the production of Annual Security Outlooks by participating states.

Since 2000, the ARF has begun to develop its preventive diplomacy function, focusing on concepts and principles of preventive diplomacy as a framework for ARF activities. Specific tools are foreseen in efforts to enhance the role of the ARF Chair develop an experts/eminent persons register.

ARF currently has 26 participants: Australia, Bangladesh, Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Canada, China, European Union, India, Indonesia, Japan, Democratic Peoples’ Republic of Korea, Republic of Korea, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar (Burma), Mongolia, New Zealand, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Russian Federation, Singapore, Thailand, Timor Leste (East Timor), United States, Vietnam.

The U.S. strongly supports the ARF and has sponsored or co-sponsored several confidence-building measures and ARF workshops, notably on preventive diplomacy. Development of multilateral approaches to regional concerns will enhance regional peace, security, and stability and promote improved relations between and among states of the Asia-Pacific region and their partners from outside the region.

ECONOMY

The ASEAN region is one of the world's economic success stories in agriculture, industry, and trade. The economies range from resource-rich but still largely agricultural Indonesia, to the highly industrialized city-state of Singapore. The ASEAN nations are mainly committed to market-and export-oriented economic growth strategies. Their dynamic economies averaged annual GDP growth of about 7% during the 1970s but experienced stagnation or recession in the mid-1980s due to slackening world trade and deteriorating commodity and oil prices. Since the late 1980s, growth rates have increased steadily and in 1990 ranged from 2.1% for the Philippines to 12% for Thailand; the combined ASEAN economies grew 7.6% in 1990.

Except for Singapore and Brunei, the ASEAN economies are still largely agricultural, producing commodities such as rubber, palm oil, rice, copra, and coffee for export, though manufacturing sectors in Malaysia, Thailand, and Indonesia are of increasing importance in each economy. Singapore has a highly diversified commercial and industrial economy, with growing emphasis on the service sector. Commercialized cultivation and processing of primary agricultural products are important industries in Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, and the Philippines.

ASEAN accounts for 72% of world exports of rubber and is the world's largest source of tropical timber. Mineral resources include 26% of the world's tin exports and significant amounts of copper, coal, nickel, and tungsten. Indonesia, Malaysia, and Brunei are important energy exporters, producing most of East Asia's petroleum and natural gas.

THE UNITED STATES AND ASEAN

July 31, 2007

The year 2007 marked the 30th anniversary of the U.S. relationship with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). Since the first ASEAN-U.S. Dialogue meeting in Manila in 1977, the United States and ASEAN have forged a close and constructive partnership that addresses issues of importance to all.

Economic Ties

The United States economic ties with ASEAN are robust. Two-way trade was $168 billion last year and, collectively, ASEAN is America's fourth largest trading partner. To date, U.S. companies have invested nearly $90 billion in ASEAN countries. In August 2006, U.S. Trade Representative Susan Schwab and her ASEAN counterparts signed the U.S.-ASEAN Trade and Investment Framework Arrangement. The Arrangement established a regular and formal dialogue on trade and investment matters and a joint work plan.

Enhanced Partnership

U.S.-ASEAN relations were elevated to a new level when President Bush and ASEAN leaders announced the Enhanced Partnership Joint Vision Statement in November 2005.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and ASEAN Foreign Ministers signed the Enhanced Partnership Plan of Action in July 2006. The Plan guides cooperation as ASEAN advances toward its goal of political, economic and social integration. The United States and ASEAN cooperate closely on critical transnational challenges such as terrorism, narcotics trafficking, infectious diseases, and protecting the environment.

Some highlights of the Enhanced Partnership include:

  • The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) is supporting capacity building on HIV/ AIDS treatment, care and support, and other public health issues.
  • The Fulbright Commission has launched an ASEAN Visiting Scholars Program, open to foreign affairs officials, scholars and researchers.
  • The USAID Regional Development Mission supports ASEAN's Environmentally Sustainable Cities Initiative, including 12 pilot projects in 5 countries.

Plan of Action

In 2006, President Bush and ASEAN leaders identified eight priority areas within the Plan of Action:

  • Economic cooperation
  • Health
  • Scholarships
  • Information and communications technology
  • Transport
  • Energy
  • Disaster management
  • Environmental management

The U.S. Department of State, USAID, the U.S. Trade Representative, the U.S. Department of Commerce and other partners outside the U.S. Government have developed numerous cooperation programs in these priority areas. Under the Plan of Action, these programs include well over 100 activities in the political and security, economic, educational and cultural fields.

Security Cooperation

The ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) serves as the primary multilateral institution for regional security engagement for the U.S. in Asia. ARF provides a useful forum for discussion on security matters of importance to the Asia-Pacific region and progress on some of these issues. Through this 27-member forum, the United States has partnered with other ARF member countries to strengthen the institution, particularly in the areas of non-traditional security. Nonproliferation, disaster relief, maritime security, and civil-military coordination through multilateral exercises are some of the transnational security areas that should be reinforced as core issues for cooperation. The U.S. has funded capacity-building work-shops in maritime security and non-proliferation; and has worked with the Philippines, as well as Australia and Indonesia, on a proposed 2009 ARF Disaster Relief Exercise.

United States Cooperation with Southeast Asia

September 7, 2007

On September 7, 2007, President Bush met with leaders from seven Southeast Asian economies participating in the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Meetings. These countries are also members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

President Bush announced, and the leaders of the ASEAN nations welcomed, the creation of the position of united states ambassador to ASEAN. This ambassador will work with ASEAN nations to deepen the already strong and robust U.S.-ASEAN relationship

President Bush and the Southeast Asian leaders hailed the growing cooperation under the U.S.-ASEAN Enhanced Partnership, announced under the leadership of President Bush and ASEAN leaders in 2005. They also discussed other regional issues, including U.S.-ASEAN trade cooperation, the disconcerting human rights situation in Burma, regional security, and counterterrorism cooperation.

President Bush and the ASEAN leaders noted the wide range of work accomplished on eight priority areas for cooperation under the Enhanced Partnership Since 2005. All this work is in addition to the substantial bilateral cooperation between the United States and individual ASEAN countries:

Economics: The United States and ASEAN have developed an extensive program of cooperation to support ASEAN's economic integration. On intellectual property rights, for example, more than 800 ASEAN officials have attended workshops, training, and other activities organized by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

Health: The United States has supported an expert on pandemic preparedness and avian influenza at the ASEAN Secretariat in Jakarta. We have also provided support and technical assistance to help ASEAN tackle HIV/AIDS and other public health problems.

Scholarships: The Fulbright Commission has launched an ASEAN Visiting Scholars Program open to foreign affairs officials, scholars, and researchers working on issues central to the U.S.-ASEAN relationship.

Information and Communications Technology (ICT): The United States is supporting an assessment of ASEAN's integration of the region's ICT sectors and has provided increased ICT capability to the ASEAN Secretariat.

Transport: The United States has provided an assessment of the logistics sector in ASEAN, including its transport and communications infrastructure. This work contributed to ASEAN's plans to integrate freight, transport, and other logistics services to move goods more cheaply and efficiently.

Disaster Management: The U.S. has been a major provider of assistance in response to natural disasters in Southeast Asia. We will continue to provide support and training for disaster response and management in the coming year.

Environment: The U.S. supports environmental programs and improved wildlife conservation in Southeast Asia. The U.S.-supported ASEAN-Wildlife Enforcement Network (ASEAN-WEN) has already broken several wildlife trafficking rings and was showcased by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Fauna and Flora (CITES).

Energy: The U.S. and ASEAN have organized workshops on clean energy, energy efficiency, and clean coal.

President Bush and the leaders of ASEAN nations also discussed the important progress made in trade and investment relations under the U.S.-ASEAN Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) signed in 2006.

Ongoing consultations under the TIFA are aimed at supporting deeper intra-ASEAN economic integration and U.S.-ASEAN trade ties in the specific areas of the ASEAN Single Window for customs clearance, pharmaceutical regulatory harmonization, and sanitary and phytosanitary policy. The President and ASEAN Leaders discussed the importance and benefits to Southeast Asian countries of success in the Doha Round of World Trade Organization (WTO) negotiations. The United States and Singapore have a highly successful Free Trade Agreement (FTA), signed in 2003. The United States and Thailand launched FTA negotiations in 2004, and the United States and Malaysia commenced FTA talks in 2006.

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ASEAN

ASEAN

Official Name:
Association of Southeast Asian Nations


Editor's note: The information in this article has been compiled and edited from the 1992 and 2001 ASEAN Background Notes and Fact Sheets made available in 2001, 2002, and 2005 from the Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs of the U.S. Department of State.



PROFILE

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) was formed in 1967 by Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, and Thailand to promote political and economic cooperation and regional stability. U.S. relations with ASEAN have been excellent since its inception.

The ASEAN chairmanship rotates annually on an alphabetical basis. The current chair is Vietnam.

The ASEAN Declaration in 1976, considered ASEAN's foundation document, formalized the principles of peace and cooperation to which ASEAN is dedicated.

Brunei joined in 1984, shortly after its independence from the United Kingdom, and Vietnam joined ASEAN as its seventh member in 1995. Laos and Burma were admitted into full membership in July 1997 as ASEAN celebrated its 30th anniversary. Cambodia became ASEAN's tenth member in 1999.

The Association commands far greater influence on Asia-Pacific trade, political, and security issues than its members could achieve individually. ASEAN's success has been based largely on its use of consultation, consensus, and cooperation.

ASEAN took the first steps toward an ASEAN Free Trade Area (AFTA) in 1993, when it agreed to eliminate most tariffs on manufactured goods between members over the following decade.

Every year following the ASEAN Ministerial Meeting in July, ASEAN holds its Post-Ministerial Conference (PMC), where it meets with its ten Dialogue Partners. These are Australia, Canada, China, European Union, India, Japan, Republic of Korea, New Zealand, Russia, and the United States. The Secretary participated in the July 2000 meeting in Bangkok.

In 1994, ASEAN took the lead in establishing the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF), which now has 23 members and meets each year at the ministerial level just before the PMC. The ARF is the only region-wide governmental security forum. Its goal is to promote regional stability and peace, and it is now looking at the overlap between confidence building measures, where it has been active, and preventive diplomacy.


GEOGRAPHY

Located in Southeast Asia on the Malay Peninsula and the islands to the south and east in the South China Sea, the ten ASEAN states adjoin some of the most important sea lanes in the world. The ASEAN states lie astride the Equator and extend from roughly 1,600 kilometers (1,000 mi.) north to 800 kilometers (500 mi.) south.


HISTORY

ASEAN was founded officially on August 8, 1967, with the signing of the Bangkok Declaration by the foreign ministers of the original five members. The organization was created to strengthen regional cohesion and self-reliance through economic, social, and cultural cooperation. It developed slowly during its first decade, partly because of diverse economic interests, varied historical experience, and the initially fragile political ties among the five original states.

Brunei Darussalam, formerly a British protectorate, joined ASEAN as its sixth member state in January 1984, shortly after attainment of full independence.

To curb external interference, in 1971 the ASEAN nations set as their goal the establishment of a zone of peace, freedom, and neutrality (ZOPFAN) for Southeast Asia, and this was included in the Bali Declaration signed by the ASEAN heads of government in 1976. This concept remains a long-term objective. The fall of the Republic of Vietnam in 1975 led to a new phase of ASEAN relations.

In 1976, the first ASEAN summit conference was convened in Bali, Indonesia, and collaboration among ASEAN states took a major step forward with the signing of the Declaration of ASEAN Concord. Aimed at promoting cooperative activities in industry, trade, and other fields, this declaration remains the major "constitutional base" for ASEAN cooperation. It also authorized the formation of the ASEAN Secretariat in Jakarta.

Growing Cooperation

The Vietnamese invasion of Cambodia, starting in December 1978, played a key role in furthering ASEAN collaboration. During the 1980s, the ASEAN nations successfully managed passage of yearly UN General Assembly resolutions calling for an end to Vietnamese occupation and were instrumental in the 1991 peace settlement in Cambodia. These accomplishments and the political cooperation thus fostered have been ASEAN's major political achievements.

Diverse economic interests and levels of development have limited the extent of economic cooperation between member nations. However, the collapse of international commodity prices in the mid-1980s and the subsequent downturn in the economies of several ASEAN nations spurred regional leaders to initiate serious economic reforms and trade liberalization plans. The December 1987 ASEAN summit gave new impetus to reducing internal trade barriers and establishing joint industrial projects; it also fostered closer coordination on economic issues by ASEAN governments, particularly in international forums. The 1989 creation of APEC (Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation, an informal economic grouping of the U.S., Canada, Japan, South Korea, Australia, New Zealand, and ASEAN, which expanded in 1991 to include the People's Republic of China, Taiwan, and Hong Kong) has provided an additional important venue in which ASEAN representatives can meet and discuss issues of broader regional importance. ASEAN economic ministers in 1991 agreed to move toward an ASEAN Free Trade Area (AFTA). The decision to create AFTA was taken by ASEAN heads of government at the fourth ASEAN summit in January 1992.


INSTITUTIONS

Since its inception, ASEAN gradually has developed a number of formal, regular consultative meetings and committees, but it has only a very limited permanent structure. Decisions are made by consensus and often are achieved through informal, ad hoc consultations. However, there are several formal bodies that consult and make decisions on various common issues.

Foreign Ministers' Meetings

The periodic meetings of the six foreign ministers constitute the principal decision-making body for ASEAN. In addition to their regular annual sessions in June or July, the foreign ministers gather on other occasions as needed. The venue of the ministerial meetings rotates annually among the six countries.

The foreign ministers' meetings have assumed a prominent role partially as a result of events in Indochina. Recognizing the importance of a unified front on the Cambodia question, ASEAN has used the foreign ministers' consultations to reaffirm their common stand. Periodic meetings of senior officials plan for and supplement the work of the foreign ministers. In addition, an ASEAN Standing Committee, composed of ambassadors resident in the venue of the ministerial meeting and chaired by the foreign minister of the host country, meets as needed.

Economic Ministers' Meetings

The economic ministers usually meet twice a year to discuss common approaches to economic questions and to review cooperative programs. Decisions on economic questions are then referred to the foreign ministers or heads of government for final approval. Various sectoral committees, subcommittees, and working groups have been established to deal with specific economic and social issues. Regular ministerial consultations also are held in such sectors as labor, social welfare, education, energy, and information.

The ASEAN Secretariat

The ASEAN Secretariat is located in Jakarta in a headquarters building provided by the Indonesian Government. The ASEAN states have not favored development of a strong central coordinating authority. The Secretariat is limited in size and is tasked mainly with serving the various ministerial meetings and committees. It has been suggested that the Secretariat might serve as a regional research, information, and statistical center, but this and other roles have not yet been authorized.

ASEAN

Members:
Brunei, Burma (Myanmar), Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam.

Regional Forum (ARF) Members:
The ten members of ASEAN plus Russia, Mongolia, Japan, North Korea, South Korea, China, India, Papua New Guinea, Australia, New Zealand, the United States, Canada, and the European Union.

Complementing the ASEAN Secretariat, each government maintains its own National Secretariat in its Foreign Ministry; these vary in size and function. The six National Secretariats are responsible to their own governments.

ASEAN Post-Ministerial Conference (PMC)

ASEAN began establishing "Dialogue Partner" relationships in 1977 with countries that have major interests in the region. There are now ten Dialogue Partners. Each July, the ASEAN Foreign Ministers meet with the Dialogue Partners at the Post-Ministerial Conference (PMC), immediately following the ASEAN Ministerial Meeting, thus the name "PMC."

In recent years, ASEAN has been struggling to redefine the PMC and find a useful place for it between the ARF with its security portfolio and APEC with its economic agenda. The last several PMCs focused increasingly on international economic and political issues and on transnational issues, such as crime, narcotics, trafficking in persons, environment, and health.

This year, however, transnational issues were omitted from the PMC agenda.

The U.S. feels that the PMC has an important role in ASEAN's relations with the rest of the Asia-Pacific region. We believe it could most usefully serve as a forum for discussing transnational issues and political issues outside the region, subjects not covered by either ARF or APEC. Transnational issues are threats common to all PMC participants. ASEAN identified them as priority concerns for the ASEAN region in its own 1998 Hanoi Plan of Action (HPA). We hope the PMC will return to a discussion of transnational issues next year.

ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF)

The ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) draws together 23 countries involved in the security of the Asia-Pacific region. The ARF, which first met in 1994, provides a forum in which members can discuss regional political and security issues and develop cooperative measures to contribute to the maintenance of peace and security and the avoidance of conflict. ARF meetings are held at the Foreign Minister level, annually in late July, in conjunction with the ASEAN Post Ministerial Conference (PMC). Chairmanship of the ARF is in line with the annual rotation of the Chairmanship of ASEAN. The principal formal ARF document is the ARF Chairman's Statement issued after every ARF ministerial meeting. The Senior Officials Meeting (SOM) and the Inter-Sessional Support Group on Confidence Building Measures (ISG/CBMs) support the work of Ministers.

The ARF is characterized by minimal institutionalization and consensus decision-making. Participants have agreed on a three-stage evolution of confidence-building, preventive diplomacy and, in the longer term, approaches to conflict resolution.

The ARF's work program includes encouragement and development of confidence-building measures, such as promoting participation in international arms control and non-proliferation regimes and the production of Annual Security Outlooks by participating states.

Since 2000, the ARF has begun to develop its preventive diplomacy function, focusing on concepts and principles of preventive diplomacy as a framework for ARF activities. Specific tools are foreseen in efforts to enhance the role of the ARF Chair develop an experts/eminent persons register.

The 23 members of ASEAN Regional Forum include the ten members of ASEAN plus Russia, Mongolia, Japan, North Korea, South Korea, China, India, Papua New Guinea, Australia, New Zealand, the United States, Canada, and the European Union.

The U.S. strongly supports the ARF and has sponsored or co-sponsored several confidence-building measures and ARF workshops, notably on preventive diplomacy. Development of multilateral approaches to regional concerns will enhance regional peace, security, and stability and promote improved relations between and among states of the Asia-Pacific region and their partners from outside the region.


ECONOMY

The ASEAN region is one of the world's economic success stories in agriculture, industry, and trade. The economies range from resource-rich but still largely agricultural Indonesia, to the highly industrialized city-state of Singapore. The ASEAN nations are mainly committed to market- and export-oriented economic growth strategies. Their dynamic economies averaged annual GDP growth of about 7% during the 1970s but experienced stagnation or recession in the mid-1980s due to slackening world trade and deteriorating commodity and oil prices. Since the late 1980s, growth rates have increased steadily and in 1990 ranged from 2.1% for the Philippines to 12% for Thailand; the combined ASEAN economies grew 7.6% in 1990.

Except for Singapore and Brunei, the ASEAN economies are still largely agricultural, producing commodities such as rubber, palm oil, rice, copra, and coffee for export, though manufacturing sectors in Malaysia, Thailand, and Indonesia are of increasing importance in each economy. Singapore has a highly diversified commercial and industrial economy, with growing emphasis on the service sector. Commercialized cultivation and processing of primary agricultural products are important industries in Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, and the Philippines.

ASEAN accounts for 72% of world exports of rubber and is the world's largest source of tropical timber. Mineral resources include 26% of the world's tin exports and significant amounts of copper, coal, nickel, and tungsten. Indonesia, Malaysia, and Brunei are important energy exporters, producing most of East Asia's petroleum and natural gas.


U.S.-ASEAN RELATIONS

July 29, 2005

U.S. ASEAN Cooperation Plan (ACP)

The ASEAN Cooperation Plan (ACP) is a U.S.-funded initiative that supports U.S.-ASEAN activities to advance mutual interests in areas such as promoting trade and countering transnational crime. Then-Secretary Powell announced the plan in August 2002 with the aim of strengthening the ASEAN Secretariat; building regional cooperation to address transnational challenges including terrorism, human trafficking, and infectious diseases; and fostering ASEAN economic integration and development. Since its inception, the program has initiated over 20 projects valued at more than $9 million. It has reinforced the broader U.S.-ASEAN relationship by bringing together many different government agencies, state governments, nongovernment organizations, and academics, and private sector entities. Below are some illustrative projects.

Fostering ASEAN Economic Integration and Development

  • Providing a U.S. trade expert at the ASEAN Secretariat to support the organization's integration and the Vientiane Action Program, including holding seminars on trade negotiations, trade in services, rules of origins and a study of the potential benefits of a free trade agreement between the U.S. and several ASEAN countries.
  • Seminars and studies on a variety of other trade issues, including AFTA procedures to promote intra-ASEAN trade, biotechnology, industrial standards and competition policy.
  • Support for effective protection of intellectual property rights through training of ASEAN country judges, prosecutors, investigative officials, and others.
  • Studies and technical assistance to promote the information and communications technology sector and cyber security in ASEAN countries.

Supporting the ASEAN Secretariat

  • Increasing the Internet bandwidth capacity of the ASEAN Secretariat, creating an interactive ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) Website, and establishing a portal for ASEAN member countries.
  • Financing of ASEAN Secretariat staff support at ASEAN Summit in Vientiane.
  • Training of Secretariat staff in information technology, international security, environment, and trade.

Building Regional Cooperation on Transnational Challenges

  • Projects to assist in the regional fight against HIV/AIDS.
  • Support for the Framework for Environmentally Sustainable Cities in ASEAN, improved enforcement of wildlife trafficking laws, and other environmental work.
  • A seminar to increase capacity and foster cooperation on maritime security.
  • Cooperative work on statistics to address the problem of Trafficking in Persons and workshops on developing ASEAN women's entrepreneurial skills and empowerment.
  • Training and technical assistance for disaster management through the Incident Command System.
  • Seminars to build capacity and cooperation on cyber-security.

Enhancing United States – ASEAN Cooperation

Deputy Secretary of State Robert B. Zoellick announced new measures to enhance U.S. relations with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). During a July 28 meeting with ASEAN Foreign Ministers, cochaired by Thai Foreign Minister Kantathi and Deputy Secretary Zoellick, the two sides agreed to begin negotiations for a U.S.-ASEAN Enhanced Partnership. The Deputy Secretary suggested that this agreement identify mutual goals and priorities for our relationship and an action plan to achieve our common vision across a full range of economic, political and security issues. The Deputy Secretary also proposed to ASEAN Ministers the following initiatives under the ASEAN Cooperation Plan announced in August 2002 to advance shared U.S.-ASEAN interests on issues such as trade, transnational crime and disaster management.

Environmental and Wildlife Conservation Projects:

Package of U.S. government initiatives to support ASEAN efforts to combat the $10 billion black market in wildlife that threatens global biodiversity, endangers public health, and undermines economic wellbeing. These include support for an ASEAN-wide law enforcement network to bolster the capacity of ASEAN states to enforce wildlife laws, share information and intelligence and prosecute offenders; support for an ASEAN ministerial conference in Bangkok to begin implementing the recently adopted ASEAN Regional Action Plan on Trade in Wild Fauna and Flora; and technical assistance to fund practical training for ASEAN environmental professionals for priority goals such as controlling invasive alien species, preventing tiger poaching and raising environmental awareness.

Extension of Trade Capacity Building, Technical Assistance and Training Program:

Extension for another year of a U.S. technical assistance and training program, located in the ASEAN Secretariat, that assists ASEAN with economic integration, trade facilitation, staff training, cyber-security and other mutually agreed priorities.

Counter-terrorism Assistance:

Assistance for activities under the 2003 U.S.-ASEAN Counter-terrorism Work Plan that may include supporting ASEAN efforts to develop an ambitious plan to combat transnational crime, a seminar on managing a rewards program to facilitate terrorist investigations and prosecutions; and a seminar on enhancing maritime domain awareness to help secure Southeast Asia's vital sea lanes.

Enhanced Access to Energy:

U.S. government support for ASEAN participation in the World Bank's Development Marketplace in the Philippines in Spring 2006 to assist in developing and marketing innovative energy development programs and a pan-regional "Clean Energy Financing Workshop" designed to bring financiers from private banks and public organizations together with project developers from ASEAN countries to mobilize increased financing for clean energy projects.

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ASEAN

ASEAN

Last Updated: March 2007

Official Name:
Association of Southeast Asian Nations

Editor’s note: The information in this article has been compiled and edited from ASEAN Background Notes and Fact Sheets made available 2001–2006 from the Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs of the U.S. Department of State.

PROFILE

GEOGRAPHY

HISTORY

INSTITUTIONS

ECONOMY

U.S.-ASEAN RELATIONS: July 29, 2005

PROFILE

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) was formed in 1967 by Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, and Thailand to promote political and economic cooperation and regional stability. U.S. relations with ASEAN have been excellent since its inception.

The ASEAN chairmanship rotates annually on an alphabetical basis. The current chair is Vietnam.

The ASEAN Declaration in 1976, considered ASEAN’s foundation document, formalized the principles of peace and cooperation to which ASEAN is dedicated.

Brunei joined in 1984, shortly after its independence from the United Kingdom, and Vietnam joined ASEAN as its seventh member in 1995. Laos and Burma were admitted into full membership in July 1997 as ASEAN celebrated its 30th anniversary. Cambodia became ASEAN’s tenth member in 1999.

The Association commands far greater influence on Asia-Pacific trade, political, and security issues than its members could achieve individually. ASEAN’s success has been based largely on its use of consultation, consensus, and cooperation.

ASEAN took the first steps toward an ASEAN Free Trade Area (AFTA) in 1993, when it agreed to eliminate most tariffs on manufactured goods between members over the following decade.

Every year following the ASEAN Ministerial Meeting in July, ASEAN holds its Post-Ministerial Conference (PMC), where it meets with its ten Dialogue Partners. These are Australia, Canada, China, European Union, India, Japan, Republic of Korea, New Zealand, Russia, and the United States. The Secretary participated in the July 2000 meeting in Bangkok.

In 1994, ASEAN took the lead in establishing the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF), which now has 26 members and meets each year at the ministerial level just before the PMC. The ARF is the only region-wide governmental security forum. Its goal is to promote regional stability and peace, and it is now looking at the overlap between confidence building measures, where it has been active, and preventive diplomacy.

GEOGRAPHY

Located in Southeast Asia on the Malay Peninsula and the islands to the south and east in the South China Sea, the ten ASEAN states adjoin some of the most important sea lanes in the world. The ASEAN states lie astride the Equator and extend from roughly 1,600 kilometers (1,000 mi.) north to 800 kilometers (500 mi.) south.

HISTORY

ASEAN was founded officially on August 8, 1967, with the signing of the Bangkok Declaration by the foreign ministers of the original five members. The organization was created to strengthen regional cohesion and self-reliance through economic, social, and cultural cooperation. It developed slowly during its first decade, partly because of diverse economic interests, varied historical experience, and the initially fragile political ties among the five original states.

Brunei Darussalam, formerly a British protectorate, joined ASEAN as its sixth member state in January 1984, shortly after attainment of full independence.

To curb external interference, in 1971 the ASEAN nations set as their goal the establishment of a zone of peace, freedom, and neutrality (ZOPFAN) for Southeast Asia, and this was included in the Bali Declaration signed by the ASEAN heads of government in 1976. This concept remains a long-term objective. The fall of the Republic of Vietnam in 1975 led to a new phase of ASEAN relations.

In 1976, the first ASEAN summit conference was convened in Bali, Indonesia, and collaboration among ASEAN states took a major step forward with the signing of the Declaration of ASEAN Concord. Aimed at promoting cooperative activities in industry, trade, and other fields, this declaration remains the major “constitutional base” for ASEAN cooperation. It also authorized the formation of the ASEAN Secretariat in Jakarta.

Growing Cooperation

The Vietnamese invasion of Cambodia, starting in December 1978, played a key role in furthering ASEAN collaboration. During the 1980s, the ASEAN nations successfully managed passage of yearly UN General Assembly resolutions calling for an end to Vietnamese occupation and were instrumental in the 1991 peace settlement in Cambodia. These accomplishments and the political cooperation thus fostered have been ASEAN’s major political achievements.

Diverse economic interests and levels of development have limited the extent of economic cooperation between member nations. However, the collapse of international commodity prices in the mid-1980s and the subsequent downturn in the economies of several ASEAN nations spurred regional leaders to initiate serious economic reforms and trade liberalization plans. The December 1987 ASEAN summit gave new impetus to reducing internal trade barriers and establishing joint industrial projects; it also fostered closer coordination on economic issues by ASEAN governments, particularly in international forums. The 1989 creation of APEC (Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation, an informal economic grouping of the U.S., Canada, Japan, South Korea, Australia, New Zealand, and ASEAN, which expanded in 1991 to include the People’s Republic of China, Taiwan, and Hong Kong) has provided an additional important venue in which ASEAN representatives can meet and discuss issues of broader regional importance. ASEAN economic ministers in 1991 agreed to move toward an ASEAN Free Trade Area (AFTA). The decision to create AFTA was taken by ASEAN heads of government at the fourth ASEAN summit in January 1992.

INSTITUTIONS

Since its inception, ASEAN gradually has developed a number of formal, regular consultative meetings and committees, but it has only a very limited permanent structure. Decisions are made by consensus and often are achieved through informal, ad hoc consultations. However, there are several formal bodies that consult and make decisions on various common issues.

Foreign Ministers’ Meetings

The periodic meetings of the six foreign ministers constitute the principal decision-making body for ASEAN. In addition to their regular annual sessions in June or July, the foreign ministers gather on other occasions as needed. The venue of the ministerial meetings rotates annually among the six countries.

The foreign ministers’ meetings have assumed a prominent role partially as a result of events in Indochina. Recognizing the importance of a unified front on the Cambodia question, ASEAN has used the foreign ministers’ consultations to reaffirm their common stand. Periodic meetings of senior officials plan for and supplement the work of the foreign ministers. In addition, an ASEAN Standing Committee, composed of ambassadors resident in the venue of the ministerial meeting and chaired by the foreign minister of the host country, meets as needed.

ASEAN

Members:

Brunei, Burma (Myanmar), Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam.

Regional Forum (ARF) Members: The ten members of ASEAN plus Australia, Bangladesh, Canada, China, European Union, India, Japan, Democratic Peoples’ Republic of Korea, Republic of Korea, Mongolia, New Zealand, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, Russia, Timor Leste (East Timor), and the United States.

Economic Ministers’ Meetings

The economic ministers usually meet twice a year to discuss common approaches to economic questions and to review cooperative programs. Decisions on economic questions are then referred to the foreign ministers or heads of government for final approval. Various sectoral committees, subcommittees, and working groups have been established to deal with specific economic and social issues. Regular ministerial consultations also are held in such sectors as labor, social welfare, education, energy, and information.

The ASEAN Secretariat

The ASEAN Secretariat is located in Jakarta in a headquarters building provided by the Indonesian Government. The ASEAN states have not favored development of a strong central coordinating authority. The Secretariat is limited in size and is tasked mainly with serving the various ministerial meetings and committees. It has been suggested that the Secretariat might serve as a regional research, information, and statistical center, but this and other roles have not yet been authorized.

Complementing the ASEAN Secretariat, each government maintains its own National Secretariat in its Foreign Ministry; these vary in size and function. The six National Secretariats are responsible to their own governments.

ASEAN Post-Ministerial Conference (PMC)

ASEAN began establishing “Dialogue Partner” relationships in 1977 with countries that have major interests in the region. There are now ten Dialogue Partners. Each July, the ASEAN Foreign Ministers meet with the Dialogue Partners at the Post-Ministerial Conference (PMC), immediately following the ASEAN Minis-terial Meeting, thus the name “PMC.”

In recent years, ASEAN has been struggling to redefine the PMC and find a useful place for it between the ARF with its security portfolio and APEC with its economic agenda. The last several PMCs focused increasingly on international economic and political issues and on transnational issues, such as crime, narcotics, trafficking in persons, environment, and health. This year, however, transnational issues were omitted from the PMC agenda.

The U.S. feels that the PMC has an important role in ASEAN’s relations with the rest of the Asia-Pacific region. We believe it could most usefully serve as a forum for discussing transnational issues and political issues outside the region, subjects not covered by either ARF or APEC. Transnational issues are threats common to all PMC participants. ASEAN identified them as priority concerns for the ASEAN region in its own 1998 Hanoi Plan of Action (HPA). We hope the PMC will return to a discussion of transnational issues next year.

ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF)

The ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) draws together 26 countries involved in the security of the Asia-Pacific region. The ARF, which first met in 1994, provides a forum in which members can discuss regional political and security issues and develop cooperative measures to contribute to the maintenance of peace and security and the avoidance of conflict.

ARF meetings are held at the Foreign Minister level, annually in late July, in conjunction with the ASEAN Post Ministerial Conference (PMC). Chairmanship of the ARF is in line with the annual rotation of the Chairmanship of ASEAN. The principal formal ARF document is the ARF Chairman’s Statement issued after every ARF ministerial meeting. The Senior Officials Meeting (SOM) and the Inter-Sessional Support Group on Confidence Building Measures (ISG/CBMs) support the work of Ministers.

The ARF is characterized by minimal institutionalization and consensus decision-making. Participants have agreed on a three-stage evolution of confidence-building, preventive diplomacy and, in the longer term, approaches to conflict resolution.

The ARF’s work program includes encouragement and development of confidence-building measures, such as promoting participation in international arms control and non-proliferation regimes and the production of Annual Security Outlooks by participating states.

Since 2000, the ARF has begun to develop its preventive diplomacy function, focusing on concepts and principles of preventive diplomacy as a framework for ARF activities. Specific tools are foreseen in efforts to enhance the role of the ARF Chair develop an experts/eminent persons register.

ARF currently has 26 participants: Australia, Bangladesh, Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Canada, China, European Union, India, Indonesia, Japan, Democratic Peoples’ Republic of Korea, Republic of Korea, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar (Burma), Mongolia, New Zealand, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Russian Federation, Singapore, Thailand, Timor Leste (East Timor), United States, Vietnam.

The U.S. strongly supports the ARF and has sponsored or co-sponsored several confidence-building measures and ARF workshops, notably on preventive diplomacy. Development of multilateral approaches to regional concerns will enhance regional peace, security, and stability and promote improved relations between and among states of the Asia-Pacific region and their partners from outside the region.

ECONOMY

The ASEAN region is one of the world’s economic success stories in agriculture, industry, and trade. The economies range from resource-rich but still largely agricultural Indonesia, to the highly industrialized city-state of Singapore. The ASEAN nations are mainly committed to market- and export-oriented economic growth strategies. Their dynamic economies averaged annual GDP growth of about 7% during the 1970s but experienced stagnation or recession in the mid-1980s due to slackening world trade and deteriorating commodity and oil prices. Since the late 1980s, growth rates have increased steadily and in 1990 ranged from 2.1% for the Philippines to 12% for Thailand; the combined ASEAN economies grew 7.6% in 1990.

Except for Singapore and Brunei, the ASEAN economies are still largely agricultural, producing commodities such as rubber, palm oil, rice, copra, and coffee for export, though manufacturing sectors in Malaysia, Thailand, and Indonesia are of increasing importance in each economy. Singapore has a highly diversified commercial and industrial economy, with growing emphasis on the service sector. Commercialized cultivation and processing of primary agricultural products are important industries in Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, and the Philippines.

ASEAN accounts for 72% of world exports of rubber and is the world’s largest source of tropical timber. Mineral resources include 26% of the world’s tin exports and significant amounts of copper, coal, nickel, and tungsten. Indonesia, Malaysia, and Brunei are important energy exporters, producing most of East Asia’s petroleum and natural gas.

U.S.-ASEAN RELATIONS: July 29, 2005

U.S. ASEAN Cooperation Plan (ACP)

The ASEAN Cooperation Plan (ACP) is a U.S.-funded initiative that supports U.S.-ASEAN activities to advance mutual interests in areas such as promoting trade and countering transnational crime. Then-Secretary Powell announced the plan in August 2002 with the aim of strengthening the ASEAN Secretariat; building regional cooperation to address transnational challenges including terrorism, human trafficking, and infectious diseases; and fostering ASEAN economic integration and development.

Since its inception, the program has initiated over 20 projects valued at more than $9 million. It has reinforced the broader U.S.-ASEAN relationship by bringing together many different government agencies, state governments, non-government organizations, and academics, and private sector entities. Below are some illustrative projects.

Fostering ASEAN Economic Integration and Development

  • Providing a U.S. trade expert at the ASEAN Secretariat to support the organization’s integration and the Vientiane Action Program, including holding seminars on trade negotiations, trade in services, rules of origins and a study of the potential benefits of a free trade agreement between the U.S. and several ASEAN countries.
  • Seminars and studies on a variety of other trade issues, including AFTA procedures to promote intra-ASEAN trade, biotechnology, industrial standards and competition policy.
  • Support for effective protection of intellectual property rights through training of ASEAN country judges, prosecutors, investigative officials, and others.
  • Studies and technical assistance to promote the information and communications technology sector and cyber security in ASEAN countries.

Supporting the ASEAN Secretariat

  • Increasing the Internet bandwidth capacity of the ASEAN Secretariat, creating an interactive ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) Website, and establishing a portal for ASEAN member countries.
  • Financing of ASEAN Secretariat staff support at ASEAN Summit in Vientiane.
  • Training of Secretariat staff in information technology, international security, environment, and trade.

Building Regional Cooperation on Transnational Challenges

  • Projects to assist in the regional fight against HIV/AIDS.
  • Support for the Framework for Environmentally Sustainable Cities in ASEAN, improved enforcement of wildlife trafficking laws, and other environmental work.
  • A seminar to increase capacity and foster cooperation on maritime security.
  • Cooperative work on statistics to address the problem of Trafficking in Persons and workshops on developing ASEAN women’s entrepreneurial skills and empowerment.
  • Training and technical assistance for disaster management through the Incident Command System.
  • Seminars to build capacity and cooperation on cyber-security.

The ASEAN-U.S. Enhanced Partnership : July 26, 2006 and November 17, 2006

President George W. Bush and other leaders of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) launched the ASEAN-U.S. Enhanced Partnership through a Joint Vision Statement in November 2005.

The Enhanced Partnership will foster cooperation among all sectors of society, state, provincial and local government, non-governmental organizations, business, educational institutions and individual citizens. It will help the United States and ASEAN meet the challenges and reap the benefits of an increasingly globalized world.

Enhanced Partnership Components

Political and Security Cooperation to support ASEAN’s goals of a just, democratic and harmonious political environment.

Economic Cooperation , including support for the “Enterprise for ASEAN” Initiative, launched at the ASEAN Leaders’ Meeting in 2002.

Social and Educational Cooperation , including promoting people-to-people linkages between ASEAN and the United States.

Joint Projects

The United States and ASEAN have planned initial ventures that illustrate the possibilities for mutually beneficial cooperation under the Enhanced Partnership:

  • The U.S. and the Government of Brunei Darussalam will contribute a total of $3 million and work together with the people of Desa Mon Mata, Aceh, Indonesia to rebuild their village that was destroyed by the December 2004 tsunami. This joint project will rebuild houses, a school, a clinic, and related infrastructure.
  • Artistic and Cultural Cooperation, including expanded partnerships between arts agencies of U.S. state governments and ASEAN partners to promote collaboration in film, music, and other fields.
  • The ASEAN-U.S. Research Scholarship will be open to academics and to Foreign Ministry officials. It will give scholars and professionals an opportunity to work in the U.S. for three to six months on a topic linked to the ASEAN-U.S. relationship. Up to nine scholarships will be available each year, beginning in 2007.
  • The Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) is expected to be concluded soon. The TIFA will increase trade and investment between ASEAN and the United States and will support ASEAN integration and trade capacity building.
  • ASEAN and the United States will develop a Science and Technology Agreement to expand relations and collaboration between their science and technology communities.

U.S. Contributions

The Enhanced Partnership builds on cooperation developed since 1977. Since then, the U.S. has provided over $75.4 million to support scholarships, training and other programs in agriculture, health, the environment and many other fields.

The ASEAN-U.S. Enhanced Partnership in Action

Project Goals: This joint project will rebuild houses, a school, a clinic, and related infrastructure. Led by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Embassy of Brunei in Jakarta, a scoping mission identified the potential project site. USAID and Bruneian representatives will finalize the technical requirements and budget estimate for the project, and jointly develop implementation plans.

Community Approach: Rebuilding will be based on a community-driven approach. U.S. and Bruneian partners will work closely with community leaders to develop village maps and spatial plans. Community leaders and local government officials will oversee final details.

Funding: The United States will provide about $1 million to fund the nearly $3 million project, which will serve as an important initial venture of the Enhanced Partnership.

The ASEAN-U.S. Enhanced Partnership will provide development opportunities in the political and security, economic, and socio-cultural fields throughout Southeast Asia. The Partnership aims to help deepen ties between the United States and ASEAN countries in all fields of cooperation. In November 2006, ASEAN member countries and the United States of America agreed to continue to advance the ASEAN-U.S. Enhanced Partnership and the Plan of Action to Implement the Enhanced Partnership. This cooperation also builds upon the ASEAN-U.S. Trade and Investment Framework Arrangement.

For 2007, ASEAN and the United States have resolved to focus their cooperation on a range of priority areas including political, security and economic cooperation, health, scholarships, information and communications technology, transportation, energy, disaster management and environmental management. These eight thrusts will continue and support the ASEAN-U.S. endeavor to create an enabling regional environment in ASEAN conducive to sustained economic growth, enhanced economic interaction and stronger linkages between ASEAN and the United States. These efforts will build upon various ongoing programs such as the Enterprise for ASEAN Initiative (EAI), ASEAN Cooperation Plan (ACP), ASEAN-U.S. Technical Assistance and Training Facility and USAID initiatives.

Specific priority measures for ASEAN-U.S. cooperation in 2007 include:

Economic Cooperation

  • Cooperation to promote good governance and work to combat corruption.
  • Initiatives to promote intellectual property rights protection, and to promote the use of internationally adopted standards, increased transparency, and simplification of rules and procedures.
  • Planned study on collaboration of ASEAN Small and Medium Enterprises and U.S. companies.

Health Cooperation

  • Programs will be implemented to improve ASEAN’s capacity to combat emerging infectious diseases including HIV/AIDS and Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza.

Scholarships

  • The U.S. will announce the launch of a new scholarship research program for ASEAN Member Countries under the Fulbright Program, starting from 2007.

Cooperation in Information and Communications Technology (ICT)

  • A regular dialogue of telecommunications officials, whose priority will be to bridge the digital divide, promote the use of ICT for development, and improve the regulatory framework conducive to this effort in ASEAN.

Cooperation in Transport

  • To improve transportation links between ASEAN and the U.S.

Energy Cooperation

  • Joint studies and workshops for the development of alternative, renewable and clean energy sources.

Cooperation in Disaster Management

  • A capacity-building program to improve ASEAN’s capability to prevent, respond to, and recover from the impact of natural disasters.

Cooperation in Environmental Management

  • An expansion of cooperation on sustainable development, including further development of the ongoing “Model Sustainable Cities” project.

The year 2007 marks the 30th Anniversary of the establishment of ASEAN-U.S. Dialogue Relations. ASEAN Member Countries and the United States plan to use this opportunity to increase awareness of ASEAN in the United States and of ASEAN-U.S. cooperation in the ASEAN region.

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ASEAN

ASEAN


Official Name:
Association of Southeast Asian Nations



Editor's note: The information in this article has been compiled and edited from the 1992 and 2001 ASEAN Background Notes and Fact Sheets made available in 2001 and 2002 from the Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs of the U.S. Department of State.




PROFILE
GEOGRAPHY
HISTORY
INSTITUTIONS
ECONOMY
"U.S.-ASEAN RELATIONS"


PROFILE

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) was formed in 1967 by Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, and Thailand to promote political and economic cooperation and regional stability. U.S. relations with ASEAN have been excellent since its inception.


The ASEAN chairmanship rotates annually on an alphabetical basis. The current chair is Vietnam.


The ASEAN Declaration in 1976, considered ASEAN's foundation document, formalized the principles of peace and cooperation to which ASEAN is dedicated.


Brunei joined in 1984, shortly after its independence from the United Kingdom, and Vietnam joined ASEAN as its seventh member in 1995. Laos and Burma were admitted into full membership in July 1997 as ASEAN celebrated its 30th anniversary. Cambodia became ASEAN's tenth member in 1999.


The Association commands far greater influence on Asia-Pacific trade, political, and security issues than its members could achieve individually. ASEAN's success has been based largely on its use of consultation, consensus, and cooperation.

ASEAN took the first steps toward an ASEAN Free Trade Area (AFTA) in 1993, when it agreed to eliminate most tariffs on manufactured goods between members over the following decade.


Every year following the ASEAN Ministerial Meeting in July, ASEAN holds its Post-Ministerial Conference (PMC), where it meets with its ten Dialogue Partners. These are Australia, Canada, China, European Union, India, Japan, Republic of Korea, New Zealand, Russia, and the United States. The Secretary participated in the July 2000 meeting in Bangkok.


In 1994, ASEAN took the lead in establishing the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF), which now has 23 members and meets each year at the ministerial level just before the PMC. The ARF is the only region-wide governmental security forum. Its goal is to promote regional stability and peace, and it is now looking at the overlap between confidence building measures, where it has been active, and preventive diplomacy.




GEOGRAPHY

Located in Southeast Asia on the Malay Peninsula and the islands to the south and east in the South China Sea, the ten ASEAN states adjoin some of the most important sea lanes in the world. The ASEAN states lie astride the Equator and extend from roughly 1,600 kilometers (1,000 mi.) north to 800 kilometers (500 mi.) south.




HISTORY

ASEAN was founded officially on August 8, 1967, with the signing of the Bangkok Declaration by the foreign ministers of the original five members. The organization was created to strengthen regional cohesion and self-reliance through economic, social, and cultural cooperation. It developed slowly during its first decade, partly because of diverse economic interests, varied historical experience, and the initially fragile political ties among the five original states.


Brunei Darussalam, formerly a British protectorate, joined ASEAN as its sixth member state in January 1984, shortly after attainment of full independence.


To curb external interference, in 1971 the ASEAN nations set as their goal the establishment of a zone of peace, freedom, and neutrality (ZOPFAN) for Southeast Asia, and this was included in the Bali Declaration signed by the ASEAN heads of government in 1976. This concept remains a long-term objective.


The fall of the Republic of Vietnam in 1975 led to a new phase of ASEAN relations. In 1976, the first ASEAN summit conference was convened in Bali, Indonesia, and collaboration among ASEAN states took a major step forward with the signing of the Declaration of ASEAN Concord. Aimed at promoting cooperative activities in industry, trade, and other fields, this declaration remains the major "constitutional base" for ASEAN cooperation. It also authorized the formation of the ASEAN Secretariat in Jakarta.


Growing Cooperation

The Vietnamese invasion of Cambodia, starting in December 1978, played a key role in furthering ASEAN collaboration. During the 1980s, the ASEAN nations successfully managed passage of yearly UN General Assembly resolutions calling for an end to Vietnamese occupation and were instrumental in the 1991 peace settlement in Cambodia. These accomplishments and the political cooperation thus fostered have been ASEAN's major political achievements.


Diverse economic interests and levels of development have limited the extent of economic cooperation between member nations. However, the collapse of international commodity prices in the mid-1980s and the subsequent downturn in the economies of several ASEAN nations spurred regional leaders to initiate serious economic reforms and trade liberalization plans. The December 1987 ASEAN summit gave new impetus to reducing internal trade barriers and establishing joint industrial projects; it also fostered closer coordination on economic issues by ASEAN governments, particularly in international forums. The 1989 creation of APEC (Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation, an informal economic grouping of the U.S., Canada, Japan, South Korea, Australia, New Zealand, and ASEAN, which expanded in 1991 to include the People's Republic of China, Taiwan, and Hong Kong) has provided an additional important venue in which ASEAN representatives can meet and discuss issues of broader regional importance. ASEAN economic ministers in 1991 agreed to move toward an ASEAN Free Trade Area (AFTA). The decision to create AFTA was taken by ASEAN heads of government at the fourth ASEAN summit in January 1992.




INSTITUTIONS

Since its inception, ASEAN gradually has developed a number of formal, regular consultative meetings and committees, but it has only a very limited permanent structure. Decisions are made by consensus and often are achieved through informal, ad hoc consultations. However, there are several formal bodies that consult and make decisions on various common issues.


Foreign Ministers' Meetings

The periodic meetings of the six foreign ministers constitute the principal decision-making body for ASEAN. In addition to their regular annual sessions in June or July, the foreign ministers gather on other occasions as needed. The venue of the ministerial meetings rotates annually among the six countries.


The foreign ministers' meetings have assumed a prominent role partially as a result of events in Indochina. Recognizing the importance of a unified front on the Cambodia question, ASEAN has used the foreign ministers' consultations to reaffirm their common stand. Periodic meetings of senior officials plan for and supplement the work of the foreign ministers. In addition, an ASEAN Standing Committee, composed of ambassadors resident in the venue of the ministerial meeting and chaired by the foreign minister of the host country, meets as needed.

Economic Ministers' Meetings

The economic ministers usually meet twice a year to discuss common approaches to economic questions and to review cooperative programs. Decisions on economic questions are then referred to the foreign ministers or heads of government for final approval. Various sectoral committees, subcommittees, and working groups have been established to deal with specific economic and social issues. Regular ministerial consultations also are held in such sectors as labor, social welfare, education, energy, and information.


The ASEAN Secretariat

The ASEAN Secretariat is located in Jakarta in a headquarters building provided by the Indonesian Government. The ASEAN states have not favored development of a strong central coordinating authority. The Secretariat is limited in size and is tasked mainly with serving the various ministerial meetings and committees. It has been suggested that the Secretariat might serve as a regional research, information, and statistical center, but this and other roles have not yet been authorized.


Complementing the ASEAN Secretariat, each government maintains its own National Secretariat in its Foreign Ministry; these vary in size and function. The six National Secretariats are responsible to their own governments.


ASEAN Post-Ministerial Conference (PMC)

ASEAN began establishing "Dialogue Partner" relationships in 1977 with countries that have major interests in the region. There are now ten Dialogue Partners. Each July, the ASEAN Foreign Ministers meet with the Dialogue Partners at the Post-Ministerial Conference (PMC), immediately following the ASEAN Ministerial Meeting, thus the name "PMC."


In recent years, ASEAN has been struggling to redefine the PMC and find a useful place for it between the ARF with its security portfolio and APEC with its economic agenda. The last several PMCs focused increasingly on international economic and political issues and on transnational issues, such as crime, narcotics, trafficking in persons, environment, and health. This year, however, transnational issues were omitted from the PMC agenda.


The U.S. feels that the PMC has an important role in ASEAN's relations with the rest of the Asia-Pacific region. We believe it could most usefully serve as a forum for discussing transnational issues and political issues outside the region, subjects not covered by either ARF or APEC. Transnational issues are threats common to all PMC participants. ASEAN identified them as priority concerns for the ASEAN region in its own 1998 Hanoi Plan of Action (HPA). We hope the PMC will return to a discussion of transnational issues next year.


ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF)

The ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) draws together 23 countries involved in the security of the Asia-Pacific region. The ARF, which first met in 1994, provides a forum in which members can discuss regional political and security issues and develop cooperative measures to contribute to the maintenance of peace and security and the avoidance of conflict.

ARF meetings are held at the Foreign Minister level, annually in late July, in conjunction with the ASEAN Post Ministerial Conference (PMC). Chairmanship of the ARF is in line with the annual rotation of the Chairmanship of ASEAN. The principal formal ARF document is the ARF Chairman's Statement issued after every ARF ministerial meeting. The Senior Officials Meeting (SOM) and the Inter-Sessional Support Group on Confidence Building Measures (ISG/CBMs) support the work of Ministers.

The ARF is characterized by minimal institutionalization and consensus decision-making. Participants have agreed on a three-stage evolution of confidence-building, preventive diplomacy and, in the longer term, approaches to conflict resolution. The ARF's work program includes encouragement and development of confidence-building measures, such as promoting participation in international arms control and non-proliferation regimes and the production of Annual Security Outlooks by participating states. Since 2000, the ARF has begun to develop its preventive diplomacy function, focusing on concepts and principles of preventive diplomacy as a framework for ARF activities. Specific tools are foreseen in efforts to enhance the role of the ARF Chair develop an experts/eminent persons register.


The 23 members of ASEAN Regional Forum include the ten members of ASEAN plus Russia, Mongolia, Japan, North Korea, South Korea, China, India, Papua New Guinea, Australia, New Zealand, the United States, Canada, and the European Union.


The U.S. strongly supports the ARF and has sponsored or co-sponsored several confidence-building measures and ARF workshops, notably on preventive diplomacy. Development of multilateral approaches to regional concerns will enhance regional peace, security, and stability and promote improved relations between and among states of the Asia-Pacific region and their partners from outside the region.




ECONOMY

The ASEAN region is one of the world's economic success stories in agriculture, industry, and trade. The economies range from resource-rich but still largely agricultural Indonesia, to the highly industrialized city-state of Singapore. The ASEAN nations are mainly committed to market- and export-oriented economic growth strategies. Their dynamic economies averaged annual GDP growth of about 7% during the 1970s but experienced stagnation or recession in the mid-1980s due to slackening world trade and deteriorating commodity and oil prices. Since the late 1980s, growth rates have increased steadily and in 1990 ranged from 2.1% for the Philippines to 12% for Thailand; the combined ASEAN economies grew 7.6% in 1990.

Except for Singapore and Brunei, the ASEAN economies are still largely agricultural, producing commodities such as rubber, palm oil, rice, copra, and coffee for export, though manufacturing sectors in Malaysia, Thailand, and Indonesia are of increasing importance in each economy. Singapore has a highly diversified commercial and industrial economy, with growing emphasis on the service sector. Commercialized cultivation and processing of primary agricultural products are important industries in Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, and the Philippines. ASEAN accounts for 72% of world exports of rubber and is the world's largest source of tropical timber. Mineral resources include 26% of the world's tin exports and significant amounts of copper, coal, nickel, and tungsten. Indonesia, Malaysia, and Brunei are important energy exporters, producing most of East Asia's petroleum and natural gas.



U.S.-ASEAN RELATIONS

ASEAN Cooperation Plan

Secretary Powell announced the ASEAN Cooperation Plan (ACP) in Brunei on August 1, 2002. The purpose of the ACP is to enhance U.S. relations with ASEAN, the key institution fostering stability and development in Southeast Asia. In close consultation with ASEAN, the U.S. will develop a program of cooperation in three areas:

Support for ASEAN Integration. ASEAN's future depends on its success in integrating its less developed newer members with its more developed older members. In consultation with Congress, the U.S. Government would seek to expand assistance to ASEAN, especially its newer members, on economic development and investment, good governance, rule of law, democratization, and civil society.


Cooperation on Transnational Issues. ASEAN has requested U.S. assistance in addressing transnational challenges -- particularly narcotics, terrorism, piracy, the environment, HIV/AIDS, and trafficking in persons. These are also high priority issues for the U.S.


Strengthen ASEAN Secretariat. A strengthened Secretariat could better support the Chair and provide ASEAN with needed expertise and continuity. The U.S. would work with ASEAN to assist in building the Secretariat's capabilities to serve the Chair and the ASEAN member nations.

ASEAN

Members:

Brunei, Burma (Myanmar), Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam.


Regional Forum (ARF) Members:

The ten members of ASEAN plus Russia, Mongolia, Japan, North Korea, South Korea, China, India, Papua New Guinea, Australia, New Zealand, the United States, Canada, and the European Union.




Senior ASEAN and U.S. government officials have discussed initial cooperation in the fields of biotechnology, health and infectious diseases, trafficking in persons, disaster response and management, and information and communications technology. Specific activities in these fields will include training, personnel exchanges, policy dialogues, and communications support for ASEAN and the ASEAN Secretariat. The first activities under the ACP will begin in early 2003.


The ACP is coordinated by the Department of State with participation by a number of Departments and agencies of the U.S. government. It complements the Enterprise for ASEAN Initiative (EAI), announced by President Bush on October 26, 2002, which is designed to enhance U.S. commercial relations with ASEAN and its members. Cooperative activities under the ACP may also include state and local governments interested in ASEAN, business associations, private business, nongovernmental organizations, other governments, and international organizations. Through the ACP, the United States intends to deepen its relations with Southeast Asia, a region of growing international importance, and its flagship, ASEAN. ASEAN members are partners in the global war on terrorism and other security issues. ASEAN has a population of 500 million and is an increasingly integrated market with which U.S. two-way trade rose to nearly $120 billion in 2001, making it our third largest overseas market.

Enterprise for ASEAN Initiative (EAI)

In October 2002, President George W. Bush announced an important new trade initiative with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) - the Enterprise for ASEAN Initiative (EAI) - designed to enhance already close U.S. ties with ASEAN.


The EAI offers the prospect of bilateral free trade agreements (FTAs) between the United States and ASEAN countries that are committed to economic reforms and openness. The goal is to create a network of bilateral FTAs, which will increase trade and investment, tying more closely together our economies and our futures. The EAI initiative will encourage both bilateral and regional liberalization, and help APEC reach the Bogor goals for achieving free and open trade and investment in the Asia Pacific region.


This initiative will generate significant benefits for both the United States and ASEAN. The ASEAN countries are anticipating solid economic growth in the years ahead and, with ASEAN's population of 500 million, the opportunities for U.S. companies are enormous:

Two-way trade reached nearly $120 billion in 2001, making ASEAN the United States' third largest overseas market.


U.S.-ASEAN two-way trade in services totaled $16 billion in 2000, up 55% since the WTO was established, and holds significant growth potential.


With relatively high tariffs on agricultural products (averaging 25% to 48%) and tariff-rate quotas on products of interest to the United States, current U.S. agricultural exports to ASEAN countries of $2.6 billion could expand significantly.


U.S. exports to ASEAN countries support nearly 800,000 high-paying American jobs from Alaska to Florida.

Editor's Update
April 2004

A report on important events that have taken place since the last State Department revision of these notes.


ASEAN held its ninth summit since 1976 in October 2003 in Bali, Indonesia. ASEAN members pledged to continue efforts to meet the objectives of ASEAN Vision 2020, outlined in 1997. ASEAN aims to create a community by 2020 that rests on three pillars: a security community, an economic community, and a socio-cultural community. ASEAN members plan to deepen regional economic integration and to protect the region's stability and security from external interference.


At the ninth summit, ASEAN members agreed to intensify efforts to prevent, counter, and suppress the activities of terrorist groups in the region. The summit leaders also welcomed what were regarded as positive developments in Burma (Myanmar) and its government's pledge to bring about a transition to democracy. The leaders agreed that sanctions on Burma would not be helpful in promoting the peace and stability essential for democracy to take root.

As well, ASEAN members recognized that developments in Iraq and the Middle East remained a cause for great concern. ASEAN believes the United Nations must play a central role in the reconstruction and rehabilitation of Iraq. The organization supports the "road map" for peace designed to end violence between Israel and the Palestinians and to create a viable Palestinian state.

ASEAN also held a summit on SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome) in April 2003 after the outbreak of the disease in China in November 2002. SARS spread throughout Southeast Asia and as far as South Africa and Canada. By July 2003, the World Health Organization reported the SARS epidemic had been contained. But over 800 people had died from the disease and over 8,400 had become infected by that date. ASEAN member states pledged to strengthen cooperation among health agencies to share information and strengthen early warning systems to deal with and prevent the spread of SARS and other communicable diseases.




For ASEAN, this initiative will help boost trade and redirect investment back to the ASEAN region.

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ASEAN

ASEAN

Official Name:
Association of Southeast Asian Nations


Editor's note: The information in this article has been compiled and edited from the 1992 and 2001 ASEAN Background Notes and Fact Sheets made available in 2001 and 2002 from the Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs of the U.S. Department of State.



PROFILE

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) was formed in 1967 by Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, and Thailand to promote political and economic cooperation and regional stability. U.S. relations with ASEAN have been excellent since its inception.

The ASEAN chairmanship rotates annually on an alphabetical basis. The current chair is Vietnam.

The ASEAN Declaration in 1976, considered ASEAN's foundation document, formalized the principles of peace and cooperation to which ASEAN is dedicated.

Brunei joined in 1984, shortly after its independence from the United Kingdom, and Vietnam joined ASEAN as its seventh member in 1995. Laos and Burma were admitted into full membership in July 1997 as ASEAN celebrated its 30th anniversary. Cambodia became ASEAN's tenth member in 1999.

The Association commands far greater influence on Asia-Pacific trade, political, and security issues than its members could achieve individually. ASEAN's success has been based largely on its use of consultation, consensus, and cooperation.

ASEAN took the first steps toward an ASEAN Free Trade Area (AFTA) in 1993, when it agreed to eliminate most tariffs on manufactured goods between members over the following decade.

Every year following the ASEAN Ministerial Meeting in July, ASEAN holds its Post-Ministerial Conference (PMC), where it meets with its ten Dialogue Partners. These are Australia, Canada, China, European Union, India, Japan, Republic of Korea, New Zealand, Russia, and the United States. The Secretary participated in the July 2000 meeting in Bangkok.

In 1994, ASEAN took the lead in establishing the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF), which now has 23 members and meets each year at the ministerial level just before the PMC. The ARF is the only region-wide governmental security forum. Its goal is to promote regional stability and peace, and it is now looking at the overlap between confidence building measures, where it has been active, and preventive diplomacy.


GEOGRAPHY

Located in Southeast Asia on the Malay Peninsula and the islands to the south and east in the South China Sea, the ten ASEAN states adjoin some of the most important sea lanes in the world. The ASEAN states lie astride the Equator and extend from roughly 1,600 kilometers (1,000 mi.) north to 800 kilometers (500 mi.) south.


HISTORY

ASEAN was founded officially on August 8, 1967, with the signing of the Bangkok Declaration by the foreign ministers of the original five members. The organization was created to strengthen regional cohesion and self-reliance through economic, social, and cultural cooperation. It developed slowly during its first decade, partly because of diverse economic interests, varied historical experience, and the initially fragile political ties among the five original states.

Brunei Darussalam, formerly a British protectorate, joined ASEAN as its sixth member state in January 1984, shortly after attainment of full independence.

To curb external interference, in 1971 the ASEAN nations set as their goal the establishment of a zone of peace, freedom, and neutrality (ZOPFAN) for Southeast Asia, and this was included in the Bali Declaration signed by the ASEAN heads of government in 1976. This concept remains a long-term objective. The fall of the Republic of Vietnam in 1975 led to a new phase of ASEAN relations.

In 1976, the first ASEAN summit conference was convened in Bali, Indonesia, and collaboration among ASEAN states took a major step forward with the signing of the Declaration of ASEAN Concord. Aimed at promoting cooperative activities in industry, trade, and other fields, this declaration remains the major "constitutional base" for ASEAN cooperation. It also authorized the formation of the ASEAN Secretariat in Jakarta.

Growing Cooperation

The Vietnamese invasion of Cambodia, starting in December 1978, played a key role in furthering ASEAN collaboration. During the 1980s, the ASEAN nations successfully managed passage of yearly UN General Assembly resolutions calling for an end to Vietnamese occupation and were instrumental in the 1991 peace settlement in Cambodia. These accomplishments and the political cooperation thus fostered have been ASEAN's major political achievements.

Diverse economic interests and levels of development have limited the extent of economic cooperation between member nations. However, the collapse of international commodity prices in the mid-1980s and the subsequent downturn in the economies of several ASEAN nations spurred regional leaders to initiate serious economic reforms and trade liberalization plans. The December 1987 ASEAN summit gave new impetus to reducing internal trade barriers and establishing joint industrial projects; it also fostered closer coordination on economic issues by ASEAN governments, particularly in international forums. The 1989 creation of APEC (Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation, an informal economic grouping of the U.S., Canada, Japan, South Korea, Australia, New Zealand, and ASEAN, which expanded in 1991 to include the People's Republic of China, Taiwan, and Hong Kong) has provided an additional important venue in which ASEAN representatives can meet and discuss issues of broader regional importance. ASEAN economic ministers in 1991 agreed to move toward an ASEAN Free Trade Area (AFTA). The decision to create AFTA was taken by ASEAN heads of government at the fourth ASEAN summit in January 1992.


INSTITUTIONS

Since its inception, ASEAN gradually has developed a number of formal, regular consultative meetings and committees, but it has only a very limited permanent structure. Decisions are made by consensus and often are achieved through informal, ad hoc consultations. However, there are several formal bodies that consult and make decisions on various common issues.

Foreign Ministers' Meetings

The periodic meetings of the six foreign ministers constitute the principal decision-making body for ASEAN. In addition to their regular annual sessions in June or July, the foreign ministers gather on other occasions as needed. The venue of the ministerial meetings rotates annually among the six countries.

The foreign ministers' meetings have assumed a prominent role partially as a result of events in Indochina. Recognizing the importance of a unified front on the Cambodia question, ASEAN has used the foreign ministers' consultations to reaffirm their common stand. Periodic meetings of senior officials plan for and supplement the work of the foreign ministers. In addition, an ASEAN Standing Committee, composed of ambassadors resident in the venue of the ministerial meeting and chaired by the foreign minister of the host country, meets as needed.

Economic Ministers' Meetings

The economic ministers usually meet twice a year to discuss common approaches to economic questions and to review cooperative programs. Decisions on economic questions are then referred to the foreign ministers or heads of government for final approval. Various sectoral committees, subcommittees, and working groups have been established to deal with specific economic and social issues. Regular ministerial consultations also are held in such sectors as labor, social welfare, education, energy, and information.

The ASEAN Secretariat

The ASEAN Secretariat is located in Jakarta in a headquarters building provided by the Indonesian Government. The ASEAN states have not favored development of a strong central coordinating authority. The Secretariat is limited in size and is tasked mainly with serving the various ministerial meetings and committees. It has been suggested that the Secretariat might serve as a regional research, information, and statistical center, but this and other roles have not yet been authorized.

Complementing the ASEAN Secretariat, each government maintains its own National Secretariat in its Foreign Ministry; these vary in size and function. The six National Secretariats are responsible to their own governments.

ASEAN

Members:
Brunei, Burma (Myanmar), Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam.

Regional Forum (ARF) Members:
The ten members of ASEAN plus Russia, Mongolia, Japan, North Korea, South Korea, China, India, Papua New Guinea, Australia, New Zealand, the United States, Canada, and the European Union.

ASEAN Post-Ministerial Conference (PMC)

ASEAN began establishing "Dialogue Partner" relationships in 1977 with

countries that have major interests in the region. There are now ten Dialogue Partners. Each July, the ASEAN Foreign Ministers meet with the Dialogue Partners at the Post-Ministerial Conference (PMC), immediately following the ASEAN Ministerial Meeting, thus the name "PMC."

In recent years, ASEAN has been struggling to redefine the PMC and find a useful place for it between the ARF with its security portfolio and APEC with its economic agenda. The last several PMCs focused increasingly on international economic and political issues and on transnational issues, such as crime, narcotics, trafficking in persons, environment, and health.

This year, however, transnational issues were omitted from the PMC agenda.

The U.S. feels that the PMC has an important role in ASEAN's relations with the rest of the Asia-Pacific region. We believe it could most usefully serve as a forum for discussing transnational issues and political issues outside the region, subjects not covered by either ARF or APEC. Transnational issues are threats common to all PMC participants. ASEAN identified them as priority concerns for the ASEAN region in its own 1998 Hanoi Plan of Action (HPA). We hope the PMC will return to a discussion of transnational issues next year.

ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF)

The ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) draws together 23 countries involved in the security of the Asia-Pacific region. The ARF, which first met in 1994, provides a forum in which members can discuss regional political and security issues and develop cooperative measures to contribute to the maintenance of peace and security and the avoidance of conflict.

ARF meetings are held at the Foreign Minister level, annually in late July, in conjunction with the ASEAN Post Ministerial Conference (PMC). Chairmanship of the ARF is in line with the annual rotation of the Chairmanship of ASEAN. The principal formal ARF document is the ARF Chairman's Statement issued after every ARF ministerial meeting. The Senior Officials Meeting (SOM) and the Inter-Sessional Support Group on Confidence Building Measures (ISG/CBMs) support the work of Ministers.

The ARF is characterized by minimal institutionalization and consensus decision-making. Participants have agreed on a three-stage evolution of confidence-building, preventive diplomacy and, in the longer term, approaches to conflict resolution.

The ARF's work program includes encouragement and development of confidence-building measures, such as promoting participation in international arms control and non-proliferation regimes and the production of Annual Security Outlooks by participating states.

Since 2000, the ARF has begun to develop its preventive diplomacy function, focusing on concepts and principles of preventive diplomacy as a framework for ARF activities. Specific tools are foreseen in efforts to enhance the role of the ARF Chair develop an experts/eminent persons register.

The 23 members of ASEAN Regional Forum include the ten members of ASEAN plus Russia, Mongolia, Japan, North Korea, South Korea, China, India, Papua New Guinea, Australia, New Zealand, the United States, Canada, and the European Union.

Editor's Update     March 2005

A report on important events that have taken place since the last State Department revision of these notes.

ASEAN held its ninth summit since 1976 in October 2003 in Bali, Indonesia. ASEAN members pledged to continue efforts to meet the objectives of ASEAN Vision 2020, outlined in 1997. ASEAN aims to create a community by 2020 that rests on three pillars: a security community, an economic community, and a socio-cultural community. ASEAN members plan to deepen regional economic integration and to protect the region's stability and security from external interference.

At the ninth summit, ASEAN members agreed to intensify efforts to prevent, counter, and suppress the activities of terrorist groups in the region. The summit leaders also welcomed what were regarded as positive developments in Burma (Myanmar) and its government's pledge to bring about a transition to democracy. The leaders agreed that sanctions on Burma would not be helpful in promoting the peace and stability essential for democracy to take root.

As well, ASEAN members recognized that developments in Iraq and the Middle East remained a cause for great concern. ASEAN believes the United Nations must play a central role in the reconstruction and rehabilitation of Iraq. The organization supports the "road map" for peace designed to end violence between Israel and the Palestinians and to create a viable Palestinian state.

ASEAN also held a summit on SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome) in April 2003 after the outbreak of the disease in China in November 2002. SARS spread throughout Southeast Asia and as far as South Africa and Canada. By July 2003, the World Health Organization reported the SARS epidemic had been contained. But over 800 people had died from the disease and over 8,400 had become infected by that date. ASEAN member states pledged to strengthen cooperation among health agencies to share information and strengthen early warning systems to deal with and prevent the spread of SARS and other communicable diseases.

At the 10th summit held in Vientiane, Laos, in November 2004, ASEAN leaders pledged to continue efforts to achieve the objectives of Vision 2020. The leaders also signed a six-year Vientiane Action Programme to realize Vision 2020. In 2004-05, ASEAN was confronted with out breaks of avian flu in the region, and its ASEAN disease surveillance network pro vided information on that disease and others, including SARS.

ASEAN was also confronted with the death and destruction caused by a major tsunami resulting from a massive earth quake in the Indian Ocean on December 26, 2004. The tsunami devastated the shores of Indonesia, Sri Lanka, South India, Thailand, and other countries. Any where from 225,000 to over 300,000 people are thought to have died as a result of the tsunami, although by March 2005 bodies were still being found.

A widespread humanitarian response to the disaster helped avert further deaths from starvation and the spread of diseases such as cholera, diphtheria, dysentery, and typhoid. The after-effects of the tsunami will impact the long-term economic and environmental health of the ASEAN region, in addition to the psychological harm it has done to residents.

The U.S. strongly supports the ARF and has sponsored or co-sponsored several confidence-building measures and ARF workshops, notably on preventive diplomacy. Development of multilateral approaches to regional concerns will enhance regional peace, security, and stability and promote improved relations between and among states of the Asia-Pacific region and their partners from outside the region.


ECONOMY

The ASEAN region is one of the world's economic success stories in agriculture, industry, and trade. The economies range from resource-rich but still largely agricultural Indonesia, to the highly industrialized city-state of Singapore.

The ASEAN nations are mainly committed to market- and export-oriented economic growth strategies. Their dynamic economies averaged annual GDP growth of about 7% during the 1970s but experienced stagnation or recession in the mid-1980s due to slackening world trade and deteriorating commodity and oil prices. Since the late 1980s, growth rates have increased steadily and in 1990 ranged from 2.1% for the Philippines to 12% for Thailand; the combined ASEAN economies grew 7.6% in 1990.

Except for Singapore and Brunei, the ASEAN economies are still largely agricultural, producing commodities such as rubber, palm oil, rice, copra, and coffee for export, though manufacturing sectors in Malaysia, Thailand, and Indonesia are of increasing importance in each economy. Singapore has a highly diversified commercial and industrial economy, with growing emphasis on the service sector. Commercialized cultivation and processing of primary agricultural products are important industries in Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, and the Philippines.

ASEAN accounts for 72% of world exports of rubber and is the world's largest source of tropical timber. Mineral resources include 26% of the world's tin exports and significant amounts of copper, coal, nickel, and tungsten. Indonesia, Malaysia, and Brunei are important energy exporters, producing most of East Asia's petroleum and natural gas.


U.S.-ASEAN RELATIONS

ASEAN Cooperation Plan

Secretary Powell announced the ASEAN Cooperation Plan (ACP) in Brunei on August 1, 2002. The purpose of the ACP is to enhance U.S. relations with ASEAN, the key institution fostering stability and development in Southeast Asia. In close consultation with ASEAN, the U.S. will develop a program of cooperation in three areas.

Support for ASEAN Integration. ASEAN's future depends on its success in integrating its less developed newer members with its more developed older members. In consultation with Congress, the U.S. Government would seek to expand assistance to ASEAN, especially its newer members, on economic development and investment, good governance, rule of law, democratization, and civil society.

Cooperation on Transnational Issues. ASEAN has requested U.S. assistance in addressing transnational challenges—particularly narcotics, terrorism, piracy, the environment, HIV/AIDS, and trafficking in persons. These are also high priority issues for the U.S.

Strengthen ASEAN Secretariat. A strengthened Secretariat could better support the Chair and provide ASEAN with needed expertise and continuity. The U.S. would work with ASEAN to assist in building the Secretariat's capabilities to serve the Chair and the ASEAN member nations.

Senior ASEAN and U.S. government officials have discussed initial cooperation in the fields of biotechnology, health and infectious diseases, trafficking in persons, disaster response and management, and information and communications technology. Specific activities in these fields will include training, personnel exchanges, policy dialogues, and communications support for ASEAN and the ASEAN Secretariat. The first activities under the ACP will begin in early 2003.

The ACP is coordinated by the Department of State with participation by a number of Departments and agencies of the U.S. government. It complements the Enterprise for ASEAN Initiative (EAI), announced by President Bush on October 26, 2002, which is designed to enhance U.S. commercial relations with ASEAN and its members.

Cooperative activities under the ACP may also include state and local governments interested in ASEAN, business associations, private business, non-governmental organizations, other governments, and international organizations.

Through the ACP, the United States intends to deepen its relations with Southeast Asia, a region of growing international importance, and its flagship, ASEAN. ASEAN members are partners in the global war on terrorism and other security issues. ASEAN has a population of 500 million and is an increasingly integrated market with which U.S. two-way trade rose to nearly $120 billion in 2001, making it our third largest overseas market.

Enterprise for ASEAN Initiative (EAI)

In October 2002, President George W. Bush announced an important new trade initiative with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN)-the Enterprise for ASEAN Initiative (EAI)-designed to enhance already close U.S. ties with ASEAN.

The EAI offers the prospect of bilateral free trade agreements (FTAs) between the United States and ASEAN countries that are committed to economic reforms and openness. The goal is to create a network of bilateral FTAs, which will increase trade and investment, tying more closely together our economies and our futures. The EAI initiative will encourage both bilateral and regional liberalization, and help APEC reach the Bogor goals for achieving free and open trade and investment in the Asia Pacific region.

This initiative will generate significant benefits for both the United States and ASEAN. The ASEAN countries are anticipating solid economic growth in the years ahead and, with ASEAN's population of 500 million, the opportunities for U.S. companies are enormous:

Two-way trade reached nearly $120 billion in 2001, making ASEAN the United States' third largest overseas market.

U.S.-ASEAN two-way trade in services totaled $16 billion in 2000, up 55% since the WTO was established, and holds significant growth potential.

With relatively high tariffs on agricultural products (averaging 25% to 48%) and tariff-rate quotas on products of interest to the United States, current U.S. agricultural exports to ASEAN countries of $2.6 billion could expand significantly. U.S. exports to ASEAN countries support nearly 800,000 high-paying American jobs from Alaska to Florida. For ASEAN, this initiative will help boost trade and redirect investment back to the ASEAN region.

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