More than 620 million people of the member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations mark the 47th anniversary of the founding of ASEAN this week. ASEAN was formed in 1967 by Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, and Thailand and expanded over the decades to include Brunei, Vietnam, Laos, Burma, and Cambodia. Today, ASEAN serves as a critical multilateral institution that promotes political and economic cooperation and regional stability in Asia.
As Secretary Kerry said, “So much of the history of the 21st century will be written in Asia, and the longest chapters of that history will be driven by what happens in Southeast Asia. That’s why our engagement in this strategically vital region is constant and comprehensive.”
Since the United States began its dialogue with ASEAN almost 37 years ago, our relationship has developed into a mature partnership. Today, ASEAN represents the United States’ fourth largest trading partner, and its institutions address all the issues of shared concern to us and the countries of the region. We’re taking on big challenges and seizing even bigger opportunities together – from maritime security and transnational crime, to humanitarian assistance, disaster relief, economic engagement, clean energy, education, people-to-people exchanges, rule of law, and development in the Lower Mekong sub-region.
Secretary Kerry has met several times already, since he's taken office, with the ASEAN foreign ministers. On August 9, Secretary Kerry will arrive in Burma to attend the U.S.-ASEAN, Lower Mekong Initiative, Friends of the Lower Mekong Initiative, ASEAN Regional Forum, and East Asia Summit ministerial meetings and to meet Burmese government leader. You can follow his trip by visiting www.state.gov/secretary and following @StateDept and @JohnKerry on Twitter. You can also learn more about our engagement with ASEAN by visiting www.asean.usmission.gov and following @USMission2ASEAN on Twitter.
Engaging the region’s multilateral institutions, such as AEAN, is one of the key aspects of U.S. commitment in Asia to promote peace, stability, and prosperity.
The United States celebrates the anniversary of the founding of ASEAN, and we look forward to strengthening our partnership in the region.
About the Author: Michael Fuchs serves as Deputy Assistant Secretaryof State for Strategy and Mulitlateral Affairs in the Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs.