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U.S. Businesses Engage ASEAN Economic Ministers, Offer Support for Continued Regional Integration

(Manila) The US-ASEAN Business Council concluded its business mission to the 49th ASEAN Economic Ministers (AEM) Meeting today, with 11 U.S. companies engaging key economic officials on regional and bilateral trade and investment issues.

This year marks the Council’s 18th annual meeting with all ten ASEAN Economic Ministers. Barbara Weisel, Assistant U.S. Trade Representative for Southeast Asia and the Pacific, chaired the consultation as part of the AEM-USTR Dialogue. The Council presented highlights from its annual AEM White Paper, entitled “ASEAN Integration: U.S. Business Recommendations in Support of AEC Blueprint 2025 Goals,” a sector-by-sector analysis of challenges, opportunities, and recommendations for implementing the ASEAN Economic Community and improving the business-enabling environment.

The delegation was co-led by Ambassador Michael Michalak, the Council’s Senior Vice President and Regional Managing Director; Elizabeth Dugan, the Council’s Vice President – Operations; and Iain McLaughlin, President of the Coca-Cola Company’s ASEAN Business Unit and Chair of the Council’s ASEAN Committee.

“Since the launch of the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) in 2015, ASEAN has made great strides towards regional economic integration, and to maintain momentum in harnessing its incredible potential, the U.S. business community offers its full support,” said Ambassador Michael Michalak. “Our annual AEM White Paper draws upon the experience of our 150+ member companies to identify issues that, if addressed, will lead to increased prosperity throughout ASEAN.”

The Council also offered updates on its activities to mark the 50th anniversary of ASEAN and the 40th anniversary of U.S.-ASEAN relations, and presented a report on the accomplishments of the US-ASEAN Business Alliance for Competitive SMEs, a partnership between the US-ASEAN Business Council Institute and USAID.

“The 40th anniversary of U.S.-ASEAN relations offers an occasion to consider all that we have accomplished together over the course of our partnership,” said Iain McLaughlin of Coca-Cola. “It also compels us to look forward to the next era of U.S.-ASEAN relations, and to think strategically about how we can continue working together to realize the enormous potential of the region. The Council has been working to raise the profile of ASEAN in Washington, DC and around the world.”

“Since its launch in 2014, the Council’s SME program has reached more than 5,500 entrepreneurs in all ten ASEAN countries,” said Elizabeth Dugan, who serves as President of the US-ASEAN Business Council Institute, which manages the program. “Since the 2016 AEM, Council members have participated in trainings in Laos, Indonesia, Myanmar, Thailand, and Vietnam, with a focus on digital tools for small businesses. We appreciate the support of the AEMs in continuing this important program.”

The delegation also held bilateral meetings with ASEAN Secretary-General Le Luong Minh; U.S. Mission to ASEAN Charg? d'affaires Daniel Shields; U.S. Ambassador to the Philippines Sung Kim; Assistant USTR Barbara Weisel; Cambodia Minister of Commerce Pan Sorasak; Indonesia Minister of Trade Enggartiasto Lukita; Myanmar Minister of Planning and Finance U Kyaw Win; Philippines Secretary of Trade and Industry Ramon Lopez; Brunei Permanent Secretary for Foreign Affairs and Trade Dato Paduka Lim Jock Hoi; Malaysian Ministry of Trade and Industry Secretary-General Datuk Jayasiri Jayasena; and members of the ASEAN Business Advisory Council (ASEAN BAC) Philippines.

Companies participating on the delegation included Access Partnership, Coca-Cola, Citi, FedEx, Ford, Google, PayPal, Pfizer, Time Warner, UPS, and Visa.


For more than 30 years, the US-ASEAN Business Council has been the premier advocacy organization for US corporations operating within the dynamic Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). Worldwide, the Council's 150+ membership generates over $6 trillion in revenue and employ more than 13 million people. Members include the largest US companies conducting business in ASEAN, and range from newcomers to the region to companies that have been working in Southeast Asia for over 100 years. The Council has offices in: Washington, DC; New York, NY; Bangkok, Thailand; Hanoi, Vietnam; Jakarta, Indonesia; Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia; Manila, Philippines; and Singapore.

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It is commonplace in journalism to write two types of articles at the transition point between the year that has passed and the New Year. As this writer qualifies as an “old hand” in observing Thailand with a track record dating back 14 years, it is time take a shot at what may unfold in Thailand in 2011.

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