President Obama and his counterparts from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) announced the U.S.-ASEAN Connectivity Cooperation Initiative, to be implemented by the U.S. Trade and Development Agency (USTDA) in cooperation with the U.S.-ASEAN Business Council and its member companies. By launching this Initiative, USTDA is forming a partnership between the U.S. government and U.S. industry that will play a vital role in accelerating the region's economic integration and strengthening ties between our nations.
The Initiative will expand U.S.-ASEAN cooperation and commercial engagement in three areas: energy, transportation, and information and communications technology (ICT) connectivity across the ASEAN region. Leveraging U.S. private sector resources and expertise, USTDA and ASEAN partners intend to support activities such as reverse trade missions, feasibility studies, technical assistance and workshops that foster effective new partnerships between private sector and government entities to increase connectivity and investment in the three sectors. With a population of approximately 580 million and a combined GDP of $1.5 trillion, ASEAN is the United States' fourth largest export market and a key market to facilitate long-term economic development that is mutually beneficial.
The Connectivity Initiative is designed to support ASEAN's goal of fostering greater connectivity to achieve an economically integrated ASEAN Community by 2015. This vision includes enhancing connectivity in Southeast Asia in three core elements: developing physical infrastructure; streamlining institutions, mechanisms, and processes; and expanding people-to-people ties across the region.
"ASEAN is a critical venue for U.S. exports, and USTDA will continue to promote U.S. export opportunities as well as development of key infrastructure in Southeast Asia by supporting this Initiative," stated USTDA Director Leocadia I. Zak.