Brunei Darussalam is known as the Abode of Peace, so it was particularly fitting that U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton's historical first visit to the country promoted U.S.-ASEAN cooperation in general, as well as specifically through the launch of the U.S.-Brunei English Language Enrichment Project for ASEAN.
Located on the island of Borneo in Southeast Asia and known for its lush jungles and wildlife, Brunei will serve as the Chair of ASEAN in 2013. The value Secretary Clinton places on ASEAN is self evident when one realizes she has traveled to all ten ASEAN member countries to meet personally with high-level officials on a wide range of issues. Brunei is no exception.
His Majesty the Sultan of Brunei and Her Majesty the Queen warmly welcomed Secretary Clinton to their home, the Royal Palace Istana Nurul Iman, for dinner with the Royal Family. The Royal Palace was beautifully lit up with thousands of twinkling lights, lending a festive air to the evening. After dinner, His Majesty offered the Secretary a tour of Istana Nurul Iman, which is the largest residential palace in the world.
The following morning, the Secretary held bilateral meetings with the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade His Royal Highness Prince Mohamed. The United States and Brunei cooperate in multiple areas of shared interest including trade, education, and security.
For example, commercial ties have been deepening, with U.S. goods exports to Brunei up from USD 100 million in 2009 to USD 184 million in 2011. Two-way trade for the first half of 2012 is nearly $86 million. And trade is expected to grow even more once the TransPacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations reach a successful conclusion.
The Secretary joined Prince Mohamed and Minister of Education Pehin Abu Bakar at Universiti Brunei Darussalam (UBD) in the launching of the Brunei-U.S. English Language Enrichment Project for ASEAN. The Project, which is being implemented by the East-West Center and UBD, aims to strengthen ASEAN's global engagement through improved English-language capacity. Among other programs under the initiative, ASEAN countries will send government officials and English-language teachers to Brunei and Hawaii. The first cohort of 60 students begins its training on September 24. Over the course of three months, they will work together on an intensive training program to help improve their English and develop their professional skills. While training together, participants will boost their ability to communicate and cooperate among other participants from the many diverse nations of ASEAN.