Dr. Surin Pitsuwan, ASEAN Secretary-General (left)
and Scot Marciel, the U.S. Deputy Assistant of State for East Asia and the Pacific (right
)

The U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) today announced a multi-sector development assistance program to help the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) reach its goal of establishing a peaceful, prosperous and stable community of nations – the ASEAN Community – by 2015.  The contract underscores the U.S. Government’s commitment to ASEAN and the region and will run for eight years to match ASEAN’s time frame for achieving the ASEAN Community.  It was funded at $7 million in 2007 and will continue to be funded on a yearly basis.

Dr. Surin Pitsuwan, the Secretary-General of ASEAN, today joined Scot Marciel, the U.S. Deputy Assistant of State for East Asia and the Pacific, and Olivier Carduner, USAID’s Regional Mission Director, to make the announcement.

The ASEAN Development Vision to Advance National Cooperation and Economic Integration, or ADVANCE, will be developed and funded over the next eight years to support ASEAN’s implementation of its Blueprint for the Economic Community and, when completed, the blueprints for ASEAN’s Political-Security and Socio-Cultural pillars.

“We welcome ADVANCE, which reflects the strong commitment of the US to vibrant ASEAN-US dialogue,” Dr. Surin said.  “It will provide useful expertise and necessary support for ASEAN integration. In particular, it will help to enhance the capacity and capabilities of the ASEAN Secretariat in its facilitation and implementation of ASEAN integration towards becoming the ASEAN Community by 2015.”

ADVANCE is the cornerstone of USAID’s regional assistance program to ASEAN, said Carduner of USAID. “It is designed to strengthen the ASEAN Secretariat as an institution, provide assistance to selected ASEAN sub-regions and member nations, and facilitate greater economic integration and improved governance within the region,” Carduner noted.

ADVANCE is the main U.S. Government mechanism for achieving the developmental goals established under the ASEAN-US Enhanced Partnership Plan of Action and signed by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice in July 2006.  It will complement the ASEAN-U.S. Trade and Investment Framework Arrangement (TIFA) signed by U.S. Trade Representative Susan Schwab in August 2006.

During the joint press conference announcing the launch of ADVANCE
Scot Marciel (far left), Dr. Surin Pitsuwan (center),
Olivier Carduner, USAID’s Regional Mission Director (right)

Deputy Assistant Secretary Marciel emphasized the U.S. Government’s support of ASEAN.  “The Joint Vision Statement of the ASEAN-U.S. Enhanced Partnership announced by President George W. Bush and ASEAN leaders in 2005 demonstrates the commitment of the U.S. and our friends and allies in Southeast Asia to work together.  We have a strong record of cooperation with ASEAN, and ADVANCE will deepen our engagement in the region.”

USAID recently launched three regional programs under ADVANCE:

  • The ASEAN-US Technical Assistance and Training Facility to deliver policy studies, assessments, training, technical assistance, and other activities grouped in 15 activity streams.
  • The ASEAN Single Window Program to support the development and implementation of a clearance system that will enable the single submission and processing of customs data and a single point of decision-making in clearance.
  • The Regional Supply Chain/Competitiveness Program to promote regional market integration for the development of the ASEAN region as a unified, competitive market able to attract increased foreign and domestic investment.

Details about these programs can be found on the attached fact sheet.