American companies take foreign private sector lead in supporting ASEAN market integration

The US-ASEAN Business Council has expanded its commitment to South East Asia by establishing its first official ASEAN Working Committee during the US-ABC's annual delegation to the 43rd ASEAN Economic Ministers' Meeting (AEM) and in Manado, Indonesia.

The US-ABC is the only US-based organization which attends the ASEAN Economic Ministers Meeting every year.

The new committee, chaired by Sam Kim of Procter & Gamble, will channel US private sector support for ASEAN economic integration and capacity building for ASEAN and its member states.

"This is a crucial moment for ASEAN," said Kim. "The ASEAN member states have recognised the work they need to do to break down barriers to trade in the region, and have laid some impressive groundwork. The key now is for ASEAN to continue successfully implementing its plans for greater integration, which includes executing the ASEAN Single Window, the Logistics Roadmap, and harmonizing standards throughout the region. The US-ASEAN Business Council's ASEAN Committee will organize the US private sector's support for these efforts."

He added that "The US investments in ASEAN also help create conducive environment for the small- and medium-size enterprises (SMEs), too."

Indonesia's Trade Minister Mari Elka Pangestu, this year's AEM chair, informed the representatives of the council that the AEM and the US Trade Representatives (USTR) have agreed to organise a road show to the US to promote ASEAN to the US business community, as well as an ASEAN-US Business Forum next year.

"It is crucial to include both government and business sectors in such initiatives to strengthen and deepen economic integration between ASEAN and the United States," she said.

Secretary-General of ASEAN Surin Pitsuwan said at least six companies of 20 US companies based in ASEAN have established ASEAN department or business units. This underscores the importance of ASEAN to the US companies. Surin also urged the US companies to share their success stories in doing business in ASEAN and promote them through media.

"The Council has been working with ASEAN for 26 years, but in the intensification of economic integration, this is the perfect time to step up our engagement," said its President, Alexander Feldman.

"ASEAN is on the verge of becoming a global household name, and the US private sector is committed to supporting ASEAN's growth, through capacity building for SMEs and initiatives focused on key growth sectors like infrastructure, consumer products, health care, defense, and ICT," he said.

The Council's 12-company delegation to the 43rd AEM Meeting and Related Meetings this year consists of Procter & Gamble, Hewlett-Packard, Johnson & Johnson, Cargill, FedEx Express, GE, Google, Intel, Microsoft, Syngenta, UPS, and White & Case.