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ASEAN – US Conference: Foundation for future cooperation

ASEAN - US Conference: Foundation for future cooperation - Photo 1.

Special ASEAN-US Summit on May 13 in Washington, DC, USA – Photo: DUONG GIANG

Since the 2016 ASEAN-US Special Summit, the growing relationship between the US and Southeast Asia has been increasingly challenged by external geopolitical changes, as well as by changes in external geopolitics. major internal changes in some countries.

Economic component be interested

Perspectives on major geopolitical developments have increasingly become a driver of closer ties between the US and ASEAN. This ASEAN-US summit is also seen as an effort by the Biden administration to show that despite all global challenges, the US remains as focused and committed to Southeast Asia as this administration is. frequently emphasized in policy documents.

President Biden wants to prove it’s not just words after the US has regularly faced criticism for not engaging enough with the region.

In fact, this meeting is President Biden’s first in-person regional-focused meeting with an ASEAN leader since he took office in January 2021.

This conference is also a test of the US Indo-Pacific Strategy, especially its new economic element.

Since the US withdrew from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), both the previous Trump administration and the current Biden administration have often been criticized for not having a strong enough economic strategy, especially when it comes to Southeast Asia.

The Indo-Pacific Economic Framework (IPEF), which the Biden administration launched with the aim of being a ready-made replacement for the TPP (now CPTPP), does not appear to include every ASEAN country, nor does it appear to cover all ASEAN countries. is a real game changer.

IPEF aims to facilitate trade, focusing on standards for the digital economy and technology, supply chain resilience, zero carbon and clean energy, infrastructure…

However, the full details of IPEF and the benefits it brings to the parties have not really been realized.

For longtime observers, public opinion and conference statements were unimpressive.

If the US is really serious about shaking the hearts and minds of Southeast Asia, it probably needs to do more, and not just financially, but surely more engagement will follow. conference.

Positive points

While there were still some areas of unsatisfactoriness, there were some positives from the leaders’ meeting. First and foremost, it is a direct relationship between President Biden and Southeast Asian leaders that has been established, making future engagement easier.

The joint statement also reflects strong discussion, focusing on shared interests such as COVID-19 recovery and public health, climate change, and digitalisation. The United States and ASEAN also reaffirmed their common concern over the Myanmar crisis, reaffirming their sovereignty, political independence, and territorial integrity when it comes to Ukraine.

Particularly important for Vietnam is the fact that the parties have focused on maritime safety, preventing illegal, undeclared and unregulated (IUU) fishing, recognizing the importance of the Convention. United Nations on the Law of the Sea 1982 (UNCLOS 1982).

It is also the commitment to reduce risks in the East Sea, the importance of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the East Sea (DOC) and the signing of the Code of Conduct in the East Sea (COC), as well as commitments in the East Sea. supporting infrastructure development, including in the Mekong sub-region.

The leaders also decided to upgrade the relationship to a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership in November 2022 on the 45th anniversary of ASEAN-US relations.

While this meeting is a much-needed endorsement of ASEAN multilateralism, the Biden administration has shown it is still leaning towards small-scale bilateral or multilateral relations, such as the Selective cooperation of the QUAD Quartet including: USA, Australia, Japan and India or the AUKUS mechanism including: UK, Australia and USA.

Another example is the selective presence of certain countries in the summits on climate change or democracy initiated by President Biden.

In addition to the ASEAN-US Special Summit, Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh also has a series of meetings to further promote bilateral relations and US investments in Vietnam. There is a lot of interest in the American business community in Vietnam and the potential to diversify the global supply chain.

Dr. LE THU HONG (Senior Analyst at the Australian Institute of Strategy and Policy) – Transliterated: DUY LINH

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