Indo-Pacific in the News: Tremendous Opportunity Awaits Exporters

June 17, 2022

Pamela Phan is ITA’s Deputy Assistant Secretary for Asia

Families who immigrate to America sometimes do so under the most dire of circumstances. I would consider my family’s journey to achieve the American Dream to fall into that category. More than 40 years ago, my family witnessed the ravages of war and had to make the difficult decision to leave behind a country that was in tatters, forced to rebuild from the ground up. I was very young – a mere child refugee fleeing Vietnam – when this happened, but my family’s heart-wrenching journey has inspired my career in international relations, and ultimately, to public service to help countries like Vietnam set sights on a brighter future.

Last week, I had the opportunity to return to Vietnam – this time, as head of a U.S. government-led trade mission aimed at building bridges between the U.S. and Vietnamese governments and businesses in the area of clean energy. Like many other countries in the Indo-Pacific region, Vietnam is looking ahead and embracing bold new initiatives to ready itself for the global economy of the future. Nowhere is this more apparent than in its plans for a clean energy transition and for smart, sustainable development.

ITA Deputy Assistant Secretary for Asia Pamela Phan sits at a conference tables alongside participants of the U.S. Clean EDGE Asia Trade Mission. On the table is a placard with her name, and she is speaking with members of the People's Committee of Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.
Pamela Phan, ITA’s Deputy Assistant Secretary for Asia, speaks with the People’s Committee of Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, about collaboration opportunities with the U.S. public and private sector.

Southeast Asia’s energy challenges and ITA’s mission to help

Within the Indo-Pacific region, Southeast Asia is home to some of the fastest growth in the world, which drives increasing energy demands from active customers, as well as from 65 million people who are waiting for access to electricity. Over the next five years, electricity demand is expected to grow more than five percent annually. By 2040, the International Energy Agency estimates more than $2.7 trillion will be required for cumulative energy investment in Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) member states.

These are the drivers that led ITA to organize a trade mission under the banner of Clean EDGE Asia, a whole-of-government effort to advance U.S. clean energy interests in the Indo-Pacific region. Through Clean EDGE Asia, the U.S. government seeks to mobilize private sector investment in clean energy, accelerate regional decarbonization efforts, and support energy security and access through the adoption of clean energy solutions. This trade mission focused on three countries: Vietnam, one of Asia’s fastest growing energy markets; Indonesia, where plans are underway for the green, smart, and sustainable new capital city of Nusantara; and the Philippines, where an increasing population (currently 110 million), an infrastructure boom, and some of the highest electricity costs in Southeast Asia have all converged to present formidable energy challenges.

ITA brings U.S. companies to the table

Because of climate change, all three countries struggle with rising sea levels, soil salinization, and extreme weather, which profoundly affect their communities. To build the infrastructure necessary to maintain growth and assist with energy transition, while accounting for the costs of climate change mitigation and adaptation, all three countries urgently need additional support and investment. Our trade mission was there at the right time, in all the right places, to offer cutting-edge U.S. solutions from 11 industry-leading organizations in the sectors of renewable energy and fuels, energy storage, hydrogen, smart grid, nuclear energy, and liquefied natural gas.

The companies that joined us on this trade mission met with foreign buyers, distributors, investors, industry organizations, and government leaders in the four booming cities of Jakarta, Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, and Manila. Industry and market specialists from ITA and our U.S. Foreign and Commercial Service arranged for customized business-to-business matchmaking meetings, individualized country briefings, market data presentations, and important dialogues with influential foreign government and policy leaders.

Skyline of Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, was the third city visited on the Clean EDGE Asia Business Development Mission.

More trade missions to come

This trade mission was the U.S. Government’s first to the region since last month’s launch of the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework for Prosperity (IPEF). IPEF is designed to tackle 21st century economic challenges that include managing energy transition and investing in quality, modern infrastructure. Through IPEF, the United States is partnering with 13 economies that represent around 40 percent of world GDP, span two oceans from India to Fiji, and include advanced democracies, developing nations, and a diversity of history, culture, and opportunity — all with the shared goals of creating good-paying jobs, competing in the global economy, and being good stewards to our environment.

If you have a business invested or interested in trade with the Indo-Pacific region, now is an exciting and important time to follow the progress we are making through IPEF and our other regional initiatives. In September, we’ll be returning to the region for a Healthcare Sector Business Development Mission to Thailand, Vietnam, and Malaysia. This will be followed one month later by our Advanced Manufacturing Trade Mission to Indonesia and Singapore, with an optional stop in Japan. Finally, please mark your calendars for March 2023 for Trade Winds ASEAN in Bangkok, Thailand, which is the U.S. government’s largest trade mission and business development forum. Businesses of all shapes and sizes in the United States and Asia will convene at Trade Winds ASEAN to explore new markets, build international networks, and achieve success while supporting businesses, communities, and nations.

There is much to look forward to in the months ahead, for communities and businesses on both sides the Pacific. We hope that your company’s journey with us will begin now.

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