ASEAN, US look to comprehensive strategic partnership

VOV.VN - ASEAN and the United States have agreed to establish their comprehensive strategic partnership to be unveiled at the 10th ASEAN-US Summit slated for November 2022.

A Joint Vision Statement released at the ASEAN-US special summit between the two sides in Washington DC on May 12-13 describes this partnership as meaningful, substantive and mutually beneficial, and says both sides will early complete necessary preparations for the debut of this partnership later this year.

The statement emphasizes the importance of adhering to key principles, shared values and norms enshrined in the Charter of the United Nations, the ASEAN Charter, the Declaration on Zone of Peace, Freedom and Neutrality (ZOPFAN), the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation in Southeast Asia (TAC), the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), the Treaty on the Southeast Asia Nuclear Weapon-Free Zone (SEANWFZ) and the ASEAN Outlook on the Indo-Pacific (AOIP).

It also emphasizes the importance of creating a peaceful environment for further enhancing cooperation and strengthening the existing bonds of friendship among countries in keeping with the principles of equality, partnership, consultation, and mutual respect, guided by the principles of the East Asia Summit (EAS) Declaration on the Principles for Mutually Beneficial Relations (Bali Principles).

It recognizes that bilateral cooperation has long been indispensable to ASEAN, the US and the broader international community, beginning with their first dialogue in Manila in 1977, and growing with the US’ signing of the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation in Southeast Asia, the establishment of a US Mission to ASEAN, in Jakarta, and the founding of the ASEAN-US Summit.

The statement notes that both the AOIP and the Indo-Pacific Strategy of the US share relevant fundamental principles in promoting an open, inclusive, and rules-based regional architecture, in which ASEAN is central, alongside partners who share in these goals.

It reaffirms both sides’ shared commitment to strengthening and building more comprehensive ASEAN-US Dialogue Relations, which have long been indispensable to ASEAN and the US, as well as the broader region and the international community, in order to continue promoting and maintaining peace, security, stability and prosperity in the region, to ensure that relations remain adaptable to meet new challenges, and to appropriately cooperate in international and regional fora of which ASEAN member states and the US are members.

It further reaffirms both sides’ shared commitment to maintaining and promoting peace, security and stability in the region, as well as to the peaceful resolution of disputes, including full respect for legal and diplomatic processes, without resorting to the threat or use of force, in accordance with international law.

Toward COVID-19 control, better health security, recovery

Both sides support ASEAN’s pandemic recovery and health security efforts by strengthening regional and national health systems and capabilities, such as through the ASEAN-US Health Futures initiative, and commit to adequate, stronger and sustainable global financing for pandemic prevention, preparedness, and response, including supporting ongoing efforts with the World Bank and the World Health Organization.

In welcoming support extended by ASEAN Dialogue Partners through various initiatives, including the Quad Vaccine Partnership, both sides remain committed to facilitating equitable access to safe, affordable and quality medicine and health services. They are also committed to expanding local and regional sustainable manufacturing capacity of essential medical products, including through transfer of knowledge on voluntary and mutually agreed terms and provision of technical assistance.

They are committed to investing in and strengthening health systems through Universal Health Coverage, in particular primary health care and access to essential health services, and expanding and training the health workforce as strong foundations for regional and global health and health security.

Strengthening economic ties and connectivity

The two sides are committed to continuing to advance stronger, more equitable, more inclusive economic growth and sustainable development, including through FINAL 3 the implementation of the ASEAN-US Trade and Investment Framework Arrangement and Expanded Economic Engagement Initiatives Workplan, and through the vital economic participation of the U.S. in the region.

They vow to work closely together to meet the region’s infrastructure needs by catalyzing investment in high-standard, transparent, low-carbon and climate resilient infrastructure projects that advance inclusive and sustainable economic growth that meet applicable international labor standards and environmental protection.

They are committed to continuing to cooperate to promote trade and investment and facilitating resilient global supply chains and seamless regional connectivity, including for essential goods such as medical supplies, medicines, vaccines, food and agricultural products, commodities, high-tech products, and other essential supplies and services, contributing to sustainable economic recovery and resilience in the region

Both parties seek to deepen their collaboration on transport connectivity, including air, land, maritime, and transport facilitation program to advance sustainable infrastructure development and support emerging technologies, including electric vehicles.

They remain committed to and invested in prosperity and development in ASEAN and the US. We will actively partner in the discussions to strengthen regional and global governance systems, and look forward to further strengthening cooperation including through relevant initiatives or frameworks of the US or ASEAN.

The leaders are committed to improving cybersecurity capabilities, promoting digital literacy and inclusion, and strengthening frameworks and policies that foster efficiency, innovation, communication, safe and equitable use of the internet and economic prosperity while exchanging views and experiences on cyber threats and on regulatory framework and technical standards that protect personal data in light of emerging technologies and their vulnerabilities.

Promoting maritime cooperation

ASEAN and the US reaffirm that the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) sets out the legal framework FINAL 4 within which all activities in the oceans and seas must be carried out and is of strategic importance as the basis for national, regional and global action and cooperation in the marine sector, and that its integrity needs to be maintained.

They are committed to advancing cooperation in the maritime domain through ASEAN-led mechanisms. They plan to forge new ties as well as to promote cooperation and coordination among their relevant agencies, including maritime law enforcement agencies, to collaborate to improve maritime domain awareness, search and rescue, maritime security, and to curb illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing through sharing of information, best practices and expertise, as well as technical assistance, which will complement, and not duplicate the existing mechanisms. They also commit to continuing efforts to protect, restore, and sustainably manage the marine environment.

They are dedicated to maintaining peace, security, and stability in the region, and to ensuring maritime security and safety, as well as freedom of navigation and overflight and other lawful uses of the seas as described in the 1982 UNCLOS, and unimpeded lawful maritime commerce as well as nonmilitarization and self-restraint in the conduct of activities

Both sides recognise the benefits of having the South China Sea as a sea of peace, stability, and prosperity. They emphasise the importance of practical measures that could reduce tensions and the risk of accidents, misunderstandings, and miscalculation. They stressed the importance of undertaking confidence building and preventive measures to enhance, among others, trust and confidence amongst parties. They further reaffirm the need to pursue peaceful resolution of disputes in accordance with universally recognized principles of international law, including the 1982 UNCLOS.

They underscore the importance of the full and effective implementation of the 2002 Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC) in its entirety. They emphasize the need to maintain and promote an environment conducive to the Code of Conduct in the South China Sea (COC) negotiations. They welcome further progress towards the early conclusion of an effective and substantive COC consistent with international law, including the 1982 UNCLOS.

Enhancing People-to-people connectivity

Both ASEAN and the US are committed to investing in human capital development, empowering youth and vulnerable or marginalized groups, and strengthening the connections between their peoples, among others, support for English language, digital skills, Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) and Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) trainings in the region, including through the Billion Futures Program and the Young Southeast Asian Leaders Initiative (YSEALI).

They commit to working with partners, including companies and universities, to increase access to education while fostering collaboration and exchanges among their students and workers. Furthermore, they are committed to empowering women and girls and promoting gender equity and equality through enhanced engagement in ASEAN-led mechanisms, including through support for ASEAN’s gender programs and initiatives. They also commit to advancing the rights of persons with disabilities through supporting implementation of the ASEAN Enabling Masterplan on Mainstreaming the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

Supporting Sub-regional Development

Both ASEAN and the US are committed to supporting ASEAN Centrality and unity in promoting ASEAN’s sub-regional development. They further commit to promoting the stability, peace, prosperity, and sustainable development of the Mekong subregion through shared initiatives under the Mekong-US Partnership (MUSP), which complements the Friends of the Mekong, and supports the implementation of the Master Plan on ASEAN Connectivity (MPAC) 2025 and the Initiative for ASEAN Integration (IAI) Work Plan IV (2021-2025).

They support ASEAN’s efforts in promoting equitable development, including in the fields of energy transition, transportation, environmental protection, regional resources management, and water data sharing in accordance with the Mekong River Commission’s Procedures for Data and Information Exchange and Sharing (PDIES), by aligning sub-regional growth with the comprehensive development of ASEAN, and to promote complementarity and synergy among ASEAN, MUSP and other existing Mekong cooperation mechanisms.

Leveraging technologies and promoting innovation

Both ASEAN and the US are committed to further exploring cooperation in areas of mutual benefit such as smart manufacturing, blockchain applications, trade facilitation, digital connectivity, digitalisation and e-commerce of MSMEs, e-services, digital financial services and regional payment connectivity, new and emerging technologies in line with relevant ASEAN agreements and frameworks, as well as increasing technical assistance for ASEAN member states to promote innovation, and capacity building on digital skills.

They are committed to supporting the development of ASEAN’s digital infrastructure, promoting the development of peaceful, secure, open, interoperable, reliable, inclusive, and resilient Information and Communications Technology (ICT) ecosystems and 5G networks, and exploring ways to strengthen cooperation on digital economy, smart, sustainable city development and emerging technologies, including through the U.S.-ASEAN Smart Cities Partnership (USASCP).

They vow to enhance collaboration in biotechnology, smart farming, both precision agriculture and climate-smart agriculture (CSA), food science, meteorology, microelectronics, marine science, energy, and space.

Addressing climate change

The leaders are further committed to working together to advance their respective nationally determined contributions (NDC). They affirm the key role that subnational actors play in advancing climate action, and intend to collaborate together in the clean energy transition, including through financing and technology. They recognize the importance of taking strong action to reduce methane emissions globally, including through efforts underway such as the Global Methane Pledge.

They are committed to intensifying their partnership to bolster ASEAN’s capacity to enhance disaster resiliency and adapt to the effects of climate change, such as rising sea levels, more frequent flooding, drought and other extreme weather events, heightened risk of water-energy-food insecurity, and ever-more-destructive storms.

They resolve to enhance energy transition and resilience in an inclusive and just manner through the facilitation of clean and renewable energy FINAL 7 development, the promotion of public-private collaboration to address transition financing needs, including through blended finance, and the deployment of advanced and emerging low-carbon energy technologies in supporting increased access to energy services and energy security, including ongoing efforts, such as elements of the ASEAN Plan of Action for Energy Cooperation (APAEC) that support the acceleration of energy transition and strengthening of energy resilience in ASEAN, particularly the ASEAN Power Grid.

Both sides resolve to work together to conserve ASEAN’s rich biodiversity and its natural capital, including through preventing, halting and reversing deforestation, and the degradation of ecosystems, as well as the restoration of critical ecosystems including forests, and wetlands, coastal and marine ecosystems, and the continued collaboration with the ASEAN Centre for Biodiversity (ACB).

Preserving Peace, Building Trust

Both sides support ASEAN’s efforts to preserve the Southeast Asian region as a Nuclear Weapon-Free Zone and free of all other weapons of mass destruction, as enshrined in the Treaty on the Southeast Asia Nuclear Weapon-Free Zone (SEANWFZ Treaty) and the ASEAN Charter to strengthen the nuclear nonproliferation regime, and to nuclear disarmament as stipulated in Article VI of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT), and peaceful uses of nuclear energy as set forth in NPT Article IV.

They remain committed to universalization of the IAEA additional protocol, and support full implementation of the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, Stockpiling and Use of Chemical Weapons and on their Destruction (CWC) and the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, and Stockpiling of Bacteriological (Biological) and Toxin Weapons and on their Destruction (BTWC).

They reaffirm a shared commitment to the goal of the complete denuclearization and the establishment of a permanent peace on the Korean Peninsula. They continue to call on the DPRK to fully comply with the relevant UN Security Council resolutions, taking into account the international community’s call for diplomacy and in the interest of maintaining peace and security in the region.

The leaders remain deeply concerned over the crisis in Myanmar. They highlight Myanmar’s commitment to the ASEAN Five-Point Consensus during the ASEAN Leaders’ Meeting on 24 April 2021 and urge the timely and complete implementation of the Five-Point Consensus. They voice continued support for ASEAN’s efforts to facilitate a peaceful solution in the interest of the people of Myanmar, including through the work of the Special Envoy of the ASEAN Chair on Myanmar, in building confidence and trust with full access to all parties concerned, and effective delivery of humanitarian assistance to the people of Myanmar, including those who are the most in need, without discrimination.

They reiterate their commitment to peace and stability in the region and continue to call for the immediate cessation of violence in Myanmar and for the release of all political detainees, including foreigners. They will redouble their collective efforts towards a peaceful solution in Myanmar that also reflects a continued commitment to human rights and fundamental freedoms, as outlined in the ASEAN Charter. We welcome close coordination between the Special Envoy of the ASEAN Chair on Myanmar and the Special Envoy of the UN Secretary-General on Myanmar to ensure synergy in this important endeavor.

With regard to Ukraine, as for all nations, ASEAN and the US continue to reaffirm their respect for sovereignty, political independence, and territorial integrity. They reiterate their call for compliance with the UN Charter and international law. They underline the importance of an immediate cessation of hostilities and creating an enabling environment for peaceful resolution. They support the efforts of the UN Secretary-General in the search for a peaceful solution. They also call for the facilitation of rapid, safe and unhindered access to humanitarian assistance for those in need in Ukraine, and for the protection of civilians, humanitarian personnel, and persons in vulnerable situations.