At the first ASEAN-U.S. Leaders Meeting on November 15, 2009, President Obama expressed his “strong support for ASEAN’s ambitious goal of creating a community by 2015, including its bold effort to achieve economic integration.”
The joint statement issued at the meeting highlighted support provided through ADVANCE. Managed by Nathan Associates Inc. and jointly funded by USAID and the U.S. Department of State, ADVANCE is the main U.S. program for supporting regional integration among ASEAN Member States. It provides a broad range of technical assistance on a regional, sub-regional, and bilateral level, much of it through the ASEAN-US Technical Assistance and Training Facility, one of four projects under ADVANCE supporting ASEAN integration.
At the meeting, Mr. Abhisit Vejjajiva, Prime Minister of Thailand and ASEAN Chair commended U.S. support for ASEAN community building in a number of areas, ranging from “cooperation on disaster management, trade and investment, and the creation of the economic community in ASEAN.” The Facility has provided technical assistance in all these areas.
Housed at the ASEAN Secretariat since 2004, the Facility has supported a wide variety of ASEAN activities, including the scorecard for the ASEAN Economic Community Blueprint, the roadmaps for four priority integration sectors, the ASEAN Regional Forum, ASEAN’s trade facilitation work program, and standards harmonization. The Facility also supported ASEAN in its response to Cyclone Nargis, delivered training in post-disaster damage assessment and needs analysis, and supported ASEAN’s pandemic preparedness and response program. The Facility is working with the ASEAN Secretariat to establish the region’s first Human Rights Resource Center, develop a repository of migrant labor laws and regulations to promote migrant labor rights in the region, and train customs officials on how to identify and curb cross-border bulk cash smuggling.
The Facility, which prepared Realizing the ASEAN Economic Community—an economic impact assessment released November 14—is currently providing assistance related to human rights, migrant labor rights, trade facilitation, standards harmonization, education, disaster management, anti-money laundering, support for trafficked persons, and pandemic preparedness for avian influenza.