The United States is working with Southeast Asian nations to fight COVID-19 and advance economic growth in the region.
So far, the United States has donated more than 23 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines and more than $160 million in emergency health and humanitarian assistance to Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) countries. The United States provides vaccines free of charge with no political or economic strings attached.
ASEAN consists of Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.
During the August 3 annual U.S.-ASEAN Foreign Ministers Meeting, Secretary of State Antony Blinken told ASEAN foreign ministers that the United States is expanding partnerships with ASEAN countries to help end the pandemic and increase economic opportunity.
“The United States is committed to supporting the prosperity of our ASEAN partners and to working with ASEAN to advance peace, prosperity, and security in the Indo-Pacific,” Blinken said in an August 4 statement.
In addition to the foreign ministers meeting, Blinken sought to advance U.S. partnerships with ASEAN in four other meetings held virtually August 2–5: the East Asia Summit, the ASEAN Regional Forum, the Mekong-U.S. Partnership, and the Friends of the Mekong ministerial meetings.
In these meetings, Blinken highlighted how U.S. vaccine donations are helping ASEAN members meet vaccination goals and save lives.
For example, on July 19, the United States donated more than 1 million doses of U.S. producer Johnson & Johnson’s single-shot vaccine to the Lao People’s Democratic Republic, enough to vaccinate 14 percent of the population.
Secretary of Health for the Philippines Francisco T. Duque III said July 19 that America’s donation of vaccine doses would protect the elderly and ease pressure on crowded hospitals. America’s donation totals approximately 6.24 million, delivered through the COVID-19 Vaccines Global Access (COVAX), an international partnership dedicated to equitable global access to vaccines.
U.S. emergency aid is expanding COVID-19 testing capacity in the Philippines and Indonesia and providing medical equipment to Thailand.
Supporting economic growth
Blinken also told ASEAN ministers that the United States is expanding programs that support small- and medium-sized businesses in ASEAN countries and building public-private partnerships that will invest in technology and sustainable economic growth.
As of 2020, the United States has invested $328.5 billion in ASEAN countries, making it ASEAN’s largest economic development partner.
The United States is also bringing more Southeast Asian students to U.S. universities through the Billion Futures Program and continuing to invest in the next generation of ASEAN Leaders through the Young Southeast Asian Leaders Initiative and expanding grant programs that empower civic leaders to advance educational and economic opportunities. Blinken also announced a new program to help ASEAN members fight climate change.
“We have an opportunity to pursue a green recovery that both supports economic growth and puts us on a pathway to achieving our climate goals,” Blinken said August 4. “I am proud of the ways that we are expanding our strong, strategic partnership.”