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Asean Affairs 17 December 2012
U.S.-ASEAN Eminent Persons Group Report
By CSIS, Washington DC
CSIS is pleased to release the recommendations made by the ASEAN-United States Eminent Persons Group (EPG). The EPG, a group of 13 distinguished ASEAN and U.S. officials and representatives of the policy and private sector communities formally submitted their recommendations to U.S. and ASEAN leaders on November 19 at the 4th ASEAN-U.S. Leaders’ Meeting in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. The Leaders’ Meeting was co-chaired by President Obama and Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen and attended by the leaders of the other nine ASEAN member states. The EPG drew up its list of recommendations following two consultations in Manila from May 20-21 and in Yangon from September 6-7 this year. The CSIS Chair for Southeast Asia Studies was appointed by the the U.S. Department of State to serve as the secretariat for the EPG. In this role CSIS provided research and technical support to the EPG. The full report is available here.
The ASEAN-U.S. EPG was established at the 1st ASEAN-U.S. Leaders Meeting in Singapore in November 2009 and tasked by the leaders to review ASEAN-U.S. dialogue relations and explore ways to elevate existing cooperation to a long-term strategic partnership. The EPG report submitted November 19 assessed existing cooperative programs across ASEAN’s three political-security, economic, and sociocultural communities and recommended a number of concrete initiatives.
The EPG recommended the negotiation of an ASEAN-U.S. Trade Facilitation Agreement, a Bilateral Investment Treaty, and an Agreement on Information and Communications Technology (ICT) principles, which could serve as chapters of a high-standard trade agreement. The EPG also recommended that the United States and ASEAN support the remaining three ASEAN countries to join APEC, facilitate investment and job creation in the United States and ASEAN, and launch an ASEAN-U.S. trade and environment dialogue. The group urged the United States to establish a taskforce to work closely with the ASEAN Committee on Connectivity
The recommendations were designed to provide technical and other expertise in connection with the eventual assumption of high-standard trade obligations through the launching of an Economic Partnership Initiative (EPI).
The three U.S. Eminent Persons were former U.S. Trade Representative Charlene Barshefsky, Chairman and CEO of The Coca-Cola Company Muhtar Kent, and former three-time U.S. Ambassador to China, Indonesia, and Singapore J. Stapleton Roy
Former USTR Barshefsky said “Government, business, and the American public are becoming aware of ASEAN, which represents a growing region of over 600 million people and $2.2 trillion in economic activity. Our recommendations to the leaders were an acknowledgement of this fact and a challenge for both sides to think creatively to seize this moment of great mutual interest and opportunity.”
Among other initiatives, the EPG recommended that the United States and ASEAN double the number of students studying in each other’s countries by 2015, increase exchanges between officials at the state and municipal levels, institute an annual U.S.-ASEAN Business Summit for U.S. and ASEAN CEOs, and launch a biennial U.S.-ASEAN Youth Games including globally popular sports such as basketball and volleyball as well as traditional Southeast Asian sports such as Thai boxing and sepak takraw. The EPG recommended the Leaders’ Meeting be elevated to the level of a regular, annual summit, an important step toward full strategic partnership.
ASEAN EPG co-chair, Myanmar’s Hla Myint said “ASEAN has been pleased with increased U.S. engagement over the past few years, but there is still much more we can do together. We hope the leaders will consider some of our contributions and take the relationship forward in the coming years.”
In addition to Ambassador Hla Myint, the other ASEAN EPGs included: H.E.Dato Paduka Lim Jock Hoi of Brunei Darussalem, H.E. Soueng Ratchavy of Cambodia, H.E. Immanuel Robert Inkiriwang of Indonesia, H.E. Phanthong Phommahaxay of the Lao PDR, H.E. Tan Sri Ghazzali Sheikh Abdul Khalid of Malaysia, H.E. Rodolfo Severino of the Philippines, H.E. Ong Keng Yong of Singapore, H.E. Chitriya Pinthong of Thailand, and H.E. Le Van Bang of Vietnam.
Courtesy: This post originally appeared on the Center for Strategic and International Studies, Washington D.C. cogitASIA blog