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Nov 12, 2022 / 21:51

US-ASEAN relations upgraded to Comprehensive Strategic Partnership

The White House said US President Joe Biden has overseen an unprecedented expansion in US-ASEAN relations.

The relations between the US and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) have been upgraded to top-level Comprehensive Strategic Partnership (CSP) today [November 12] at the ongoing ASEAN Summits taking place in Cambodia.

The elevation of the ties was announced a few hours after US President Joe Biden arrived in Phnom Penh for the 10th annual US-ASEAN Summit and the annual East Asia Summit, further demonstrating the US prioritization of the Indo-Pacific and the ASEAN-led regional architecture.

At both summits, President Biden reaffirmed the United States' strong support for ASEAN centrality and the ASEAN Outlook on the Indo-Pacific.

Regarding financial support, the US has provided more than US$860 million in assistance through the Department of State and the US Agency for International Development (USAID) to its ASEAN partners in 2022, according to the White House.

This assistance is supporting climate ambition and the clean energy transition, access to education, strengthened health systems, security modernization efforts, rule of law and human rights, and more.

The Comprehensive Strategic Partnership promotes connectivity, helps achieve sustainable development goals, advances economic cooperation, and expands maritime cooperation.

 US President Joe Biden at the US-ASEAN Summit in Cambodia on Nov 12. Photo: MCI

Leaders’ Statement

The two sides issued the ASEAN-US Leaders’ Statement on the establishment of the Comprehensive Strategic Partnership.

It reaffirmed 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).

The statement noted that both the AOIP and the Indo-Pacific Strategy of the United States share relevant fundamental principles in promoting an open, inclusive, and rules-based regional architecture, in which ASEAN is central.

They emphasized that the Plan of Action to Implement the ASEAN-US Strategic Partnership (2021-2025) outlines shared commitments under ASEAN’s political-security, economic, and socio-cultural pillars.

The two sides reaffirmed steadfast support for an open, transparent, resilient, inclusive, and rules-based ASEAN-centered regional architecture at the heart of the Indo-Pacific region that promotes ASEAN’s strong, unified, and constructive role in addressing regional issues of common concern.

Notably, they promote maritime cooperation through ASEAN-led mechanisms by upholding freedom of navigation and overflight, peaceful resolution of disputes in accordance with universally recognized principles of international law, including the UNCLOS.

Their priority includes building people-to-people connectivity within the region and beyond by enhancing economic and socio-cultural cooperation including through ASEAN-led mechanisms, focusing on good governance and the rule of law, and investing in human capital development.

In addition, they further promote 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 MPAC 2025, in support of ASEAN Centrality and unity in promoting ASEAN’s sub-regional development.