THE HABIBIE CENTER DISCUSSION REPORT. 1 st Ambassador Seminar Series. U.S. Foreign Policy towards ASEAN

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1 THE HABIBIE CENTER DISCUSSION REPORT 1 st Ambassador Seminar Series U.S. Foreign Policy towards ASEAN The Habibie Center, Jakarta January 20, 2016

2 INTRODUCTION JAKARTA On Wednesday, 20 January 2016, The Habibie Center held its 1 st Ambassador Seminar Series dialogue titled, U.S. Foreign Policy towards ASEAN at The Habibie Center Building in Jakarta. This particular Ambassador Seminar Series featured H.E. Amb. Nina Hachigian (Ambassador of U.S. Mission to ASEAN) as a Keynote Speaker, H.E. Amb. Rahmat Pramono (Permanent Representative of Indonesia to ASEAN) and H.E. Amb. Dato Hasnudin Hamzah (Permanent Representative of Malaysia to ASEAN) as discussants, with Dr. Rudi Sukandar (Senior Researcher, The Habibie Center) moderating. The objectives of this Ambassador Seminar Series were to: (a) discuss the state of ASEAN-US relations, especially in terms of challenges and opportunities that will come from the elevated ASEAN-US Strategic Partnership; (b) explore the possible impact of the ASEAN-U.S Strategic Partnership on the geostrategic environment of the Asia-Pacific; and (c) identify recommendations to ensure the ASEAN-U.S. Strategic Partnership withstand the changeable nature of government-to-government relations and can build effective people-to-people and business-to-business linkages in support of the realization of the ASEAN Community This discussion report summarizes the key points of each speaker as well as the question and answer session that followed. Talking ASEAN Series across ASEAN region is supported by the U.S. Government through the ASEAN-U.S. PROGRESS (Partnership for Good Governance, Equitable and Sustainable Development and Security).

3 SPEAKERS PRESENTATION H.E. Amb. Nina Hachigian Advisory Council (BAC) also worked together to further enhance cooperation among businessmen and to support economic development. H.E. Amb. Nina Hachigian - Ambassador of U.S. Mission to ASEAN as a Keynote Speaker As the keynote speaker, Amb. Hachigian started her speech by underlining the fact that the U.S. has been a strong supporter of ASEAN for many years. President Obama had mentioned that the U.S. would have an intense engagement with ASEAN memberstates (AMS) as part of its rebalancing policy towards Asia. As such, the U.S. was the first among ASEAN s Dialogue Partners to establish a dedicated Mission to ASEAN. Last November, the U.S. and ASEAN elevated their cooperation and updated the name into ASEAN-US Strategic Partnership. Moreover, President Obama has also invited ASEAN Leaders to attend an U.S- ASEAN Summit in February 2016 in the U.S. This was the first summit with ASEAN as a community. Second, ASEAN was a strategic partner in dealing with transnational challenges, namely marine conservation, cyber security, and climate change. The recent attack in Jakarta showed that more could be done with the Indonesian government to combat terrorist. Moreover, the U.S and ASEAN could also enhance its cooperation on environmental issues as Southeast Asia was home to much marine and biodiversity. There was a need to balance between trade policy and environment policy. Third, ASEAN is geopolitically stabilizing as it has strategic independence. ASEAN formed a stable center in a region with multiple big powers. As such, ASEAN has helped preserve stability in the region. Fourth, ASEAN convened Asia. The U.S. would engage constructively with ASEAN in economics, finance, and security, cultural issues. Fifth, ASEAN played a vital role in promoting a rules-based order in the Asia-Pacific. ASEAN connected 10 countries and people. It was done through rules and norms. ASEAN also respected international law since rules and norms would create predictability and create habits. Her Excellency also explained that ASEAN had managed to create trust among themselves to continue to promote peace. Her Excellency also assured that the U.S. would continue to engage with ASEAN into the future due to five reasons. First, ASEAN was a rapidly growing region thus there would be more jobs creation in Southeast Asia. This was good for U.S. businesses. U.S. companies had been in the region for decades and their investment had created many jobs for ASEAN member-states. For example, Citibank was the third largest employer in Singapore. In terms of trade, ASEAN was the U.S. s 4 th largest trading partner. In addition, the U.S. and ASEAN-Business 1

4 SPEAKERS PRESENTATION H.E. Amb. Rahmat Pramono First, through a new level of partnership. As Amb. Hachigian mentioned, there were five areas of cooperation and a Plan of Action to support the ASEAN Community in the three pillars. The issues in which the U.S. and ASEAN could work together among other were narrowing the development gap issues and youth entrepreneurship. Second, maximize the potential of economic engagement. Statistics from the ASEAN Secretariat showed that the total two way trade grew. The U.S. was the 4 th largest ASEAN s trading partner. There was still a room to improve and to grow U.S. business in the region. Elevation of partnership to a strategic partnership and closer economic integration were expected from both side. H.E. Amb. Rahmat Pramono - Permanent Representative of Indonesia as a discussant Amb. Pramono started his comments by explaining the development of ASEAN - U.S relations, which started in 1977 and was followed by an enhanced partnership in ASEAN-U.S Leaders held their first leaders meeting in Now, the ASEAN - U.S relations had been elevated to a new level of strategic partnership with a New Plan of Action However, there were two challenges that remained in the ASEAN - U.S relations. First, the absence of an ASEAN-U.S Free Trade Agreement (FTA). ASEAN s experience with FTAs was always positive as it had made significant contributions to economic growth and prosperity. ASEAN and its six dialogue partners are also involved in the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) agreement. However, ASEAN still did not have an FTA with the U.S. which posed a challenge to ASEAN-US relations. Second, continuity of the U.S. policy post-obama towards Asia. U.S. officials, including Amb. Hachigian had reiterated that the U.S. would continue to engage with ASEAN even after Obama s administration. However, Amb. Pramono said we obviously still needed to wait for the new elected president to know whether the new president s administration would continue the policy. As ways forward, Amb. Pramono proposed two recommendations. First, new plan of action consists of a wide range of issues that covered the interest of both sides. Therefore, full and serious implementation of the action plan would make the U.S. and ASEAN relations better. In addition, commitment was needed to deepen cooperation between the U.S. and ASEAN. Second, synergize ASEAN-led economic initiative with U.S.-led initiatives. With regards to the current trade agreement which were the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and Regional Comprehensive Economic Agreement (RCEP), Amb. Pramono suggested to synergize both initiatives. He noted that we did not want to collide with one another, particularly when there were some ASEAN member-states in the TPP while others did not join it. Amb. Pramono also mentioned that there were two opportunities to elevate ASEAN-U.S relations. 2

5 SPEAKERS PRESENTATION H.E. Amb. Dato Hasnudin Hamzah ASEAN and the U.S. could also work together in the area of economic, trade, and investment. These issues were important and would guarantee long term cooperation. Amb. Hamzah encouraged the U.S. to invest in ASEAN to get benefits from the ASEAN Economic Community. Investors from the U.S. indeed brought more high quality investment in the region. H.E. Amb. Dato Hasnudin Hamzah - Permanent Representative of Malaysia to ASEAN The last discussant was H.E. Amb. Dato Hasnudin Hamzah. Amb. Hamzah explained that there were a lot of similarities between ASEAN and the U.S. Since there was a mutual interest, ASEAN and the U.S. could work closely together in strengthening cooperation to ensure political and economic gains. As such, we wanted to have a clear roadmap to ensure durability and a win-win solution. Efforts to maintain stability in the region should be the priority. The U.S. contribution to the region needed to be further emphasized and should continue to give focus beyond Regarding the TPP, the conclusion of the TPP was encouraging. It would be realized and implemented as soon as possible. According to President Obama, TPP was going to be important for others nevertheless it was also important for the U.S. as it would bring investment and create more jobs. In the years to come, jobs creation did not only happen in the U.S. but also in other TPP members. Amb. Hamzah ended his comments by stating that the U.S. needed to share its expertise with ASEAN member-states. Both ASEAN and the U.S. should commit to strengthen our cooperation as we had common interest to work together. In the context of regional architecture, ASEAN expected the U.S. to be actively engagement. Strategic partnership could contribute to regional stability. Efforts needed to be strengthened to overcome transnational crime such as growing extremism. Both ASEAN and the U.S. should coordinate policies and strategies to counter terrorism by exchanging experts and sharing information. On the issue of South China Sea, the U.S. needed to manage its relations with China through dialogue. It was important to continue to deal with the issue especially in a constructive manner to ensure peace and stability in the region. 3

6 Q&A SESSION Comment No. 1 How will the TPP affect the region? Comment No. 2 With regards to confidence building in the region, how do you see the linkage between the U.S.-ASEAN relations in the evolving regional architecture, such as the ASEAN Summit and the East Asia Summit (EAS)? As we know, there is a growing importance of EAS. Comment No. 3 Regarding the U.S. presidential election and the U.S. foreign policy towards ASEAN, we are encouraged that the U.S. foreign policy will remain the same even after President Obama s administration. Another concern that I would like to raise is on the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), a multilateral bank initiated by China. As we know, three big economies in the world, namely the U.S., Canada, and Japan do not join the bank. Is there any indication whether the U.S. will join the AIIB or not? H.E. Amb. Nina Hachigian According to economists, the TPP and the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) are fully compatible. Some areas of cooperation that are not addressed in the AEC, are addressed in the TPP. We understand that there are four ASEAN member-states negotiating right now and three other ASEAN member-states that have expressed their interest. TPP is indeed a 21 st century trade agreement as it manages to address issues that have never been discussed before, such as high labor standards and avoiding environment degradation. The U.S. is fully committed to it. The TPP is also quite compatible with the RCEP. Although the RCEP does indeed have different standards, both trade pacts can increase trade flows in the region. Regarding the EAS, I think that EAS is important for the region to address political and security issues. Regarding the U.S. foreign policy towards ASEAN, U.S.-ASEAN relations will continue. Our relationship is based on U.S. interest. I do not see it rapidly changing. We have important bilateral relations here and the fundamental reasons are not going to change. With regards to the AIIB, the U.S. understands the need of increasing infrastructure investment in the region. There is a concern about standards regarding environment and corruption. The U.S. has tried to build rules as a guidance for not doing harm to the environment in this process. I do not have comments on the U.S. participation on the AIIB bank as this should be a decision made by higher level. However, we welcome the initiative and we are ready to cooperate with other institutions. H.E. Amb. Dato Hasnudin Hamzah If re recall, during President Obama s administration, the relationship between ASEAN and the U.S took on a stronger relationship. Prior to that, we missed a lot of opportunities. There is indeed a concern whether the situation will repeat or not after the election. However, I wish it will not happen. We want to have a durable and long lasting relationship to ensure political and economic gain. H.E. Amb. Rahmat Pramono I agree with Amb. Hamzah, we missed a lot of opportunities. It used to be hard to manage U.S.-ASEAN relations, especially when there was the Myanmar issue. We were concerned about how the U.S. would treat Myanmar s delegation whenever we had meetings with the U.S.. It was difficult to strengthen relations back in the day. However, during President Obama s administration, we are able to speed up our relationship. 4

7 Q&A SESSION Comment No. 4 ASEAN has already had some strategic partnership with other Dialogue Partners. What are the major differences between the U.S. strategic partnership and other Dialogue Partners, such as China? In addition to that, what do you expect from the summit that will be held in February with the ASEAN Leaders? Comment No. 5 ASEAN is not united yet. We still show some disagreements in some cases. How to make sure that the continued and sustained engagement of the U.S. in ASEAN region would be done in a manner that it is helpful to the agenda of unifying ASEAN member-states for a broader integration rather than to fuel the dispute? Comment No. 6 The ASEAN Secretariat is mainly doing administrative matters, not like the European Union. How do you deal with the complexities in ASEAN? H.E. Amb. Nina Hachigian Representatives (CPR) is in Jakarta, we can meet frequently to discuss so many things with them. In the end, we are able to work closely together. H.E. Amb. Dato Hasnudin Hamzah There is a need to appreciate each other. Appreciating the differences and similarities is important. We can move forward in reducing trust deficit. In the South China Sea issue, we cannot solve it in one night. We have to move in tandem to move forward together. Comment No. 7 Regarding the importance of human rights and ASEAN, has the U.S. tried to emphasize human right issues in the region? H.E. Amb. Nina Hachigian Yes, we have not changed our stance on the issue. The Mission has worked together with ASEAN member-states particularly on the issue of rights of women and domestic violence in ten countries. We work closely together. Strategic partnership with Dialogue Partners is not a zero sum game. We have deep relations and are very engaged with China. We welcome the rise of a strong China. At the same time, we have intense cooperation with ASEAN. I believe ASEAN relations with China are also beneficial. Regarding the U.S. and ASEAN Summit, we will discuss a broad range of issues and we expect to have some specific outcomes. ASEAN is indeed very diverse in many ways. It is completely natural to have disagreements. ASEAN should play a strong role and be united to overcome disagreements. The U.S. will help and support that and always encourage ASEAN to do so. ASEAN is a complex organization but since the ASEAN Committee of Permanent 5

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9 PROJECT SUPERVISOR: Rahimah Abdulrahim (Executive Director) Hadi Kuntjara (Deputy Director for Operations) HEAD OF ASEAN STUDIES PROGRAM: A. Ibrahim Almuttaqi RESEARCHERS: Fina Astriana Muhamad Arif Askabea Fadhilla HEAD OF INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS: Wirya Adiwena FINANCE & ADMINISTRATION: Mila Oktaviani Layout and Design by Rahma Simamora ASEAN Studies Program - The Habibie Center The Habibie Center Building Jl. Kemang Selatan No.98, Jakarta Tel: Fax:

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