Posts Tagged ‘ASEAN’


ITA Connects Smart City Technology Exporters to Southeast Asia

April 22, 2020

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By: ITA’s Industry & Analysis Office of Health and Information Technologies

Deputy Chief of Mission at U.S. Embassy Singapore Daniel Bischof (middle), U.S. Department of Commerce staff, presenters, and participants at an ASEAN Smart Cities Third Country Training Program event in Singapore, December 2019.

Deputy Chief of Mission at U.S. Embassy Singapore Daniel Bischof (middle), U.S. Department of Commerce staff, presenters, and participants at an ASEAN Smart Cities Third Country Training Program event in Singapore, December 2019.

Today, nearly 300 million people living in the 10 countries comprising the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) reside in urban areas, and this number is set to increase to more than 500 million by 2050. Like cities in the United States and elsewhere, ASEAN cities are increasingly looking to use digital technologies as part of their smart city efforts to address a wide range of urbanization challenges.

The International Trade Administration (ITA) is spearheading programming that connects U.S. smart city technology providers and experts with ASEAN cities to promote U.S. exports, increase U.S.-ASEAN best practices exchanges, and assist ASEAN cities in their development needs.

ITA’s work is part of the U.S.-ASEAN Smart Cities Partnership announced by Vice President Mike Pence in 2018. This multi-year program is a whole-of-government effort to promote collaboration between the two regions. To date, ITA has organized a variety of events to advocate for trade-enabling policies to connect U.S. technology providers to ASEAN cities.

Best Practices in Smart Cities

In December 2019, the United States and Singapore co-hosted a five-day workshop on Smart Cities in Singapore featuring a range of sessions on smart city planning. Debra Lam, Managing Director for Smart Cities and Inclusive Innovation at the Georgia Institute of Technology, reinforced the idea among the 24 participants that “all cities can be smart because it is a continuous improvement process.” As the former Chief Innovation & Performance Officer for the city of Pittsburgh, she was able to draw on her real-world experience. She encouraged cities to harness the power of emerging technologies rather than prematurely banning them, as blocking new technology can limit opportunities for future growth.

With each participant focused on one priority project that they hoped to develop in their city, ITA and experts from the region led interactive sessions for participants on:

  • planning and tailoring their smart city build-outs;
  • developing strategies to finance and sustainably fund their priority smart city projects;
  • adopting standards and project procurement best practices; and
  • mitigating cybersecurity risk.

Throughout the week, ITA connected ASEAN participants with U.S. industry partners such as Cisco Autodesk, and New York based Xylem to learn about innovative technology solutions to real world problems.

Industry Engagement

This past January, ITA led a delegation of Indonesian municipal officials to DistribuTECH, a leading energy and utilities trade show in San Antonio, Texas. U.S. companies participating and exhibiting at DistribuTECH had an opportunity to meet with key decision makers in Indonesia’s power sector, opening market prospects for technology and solutions critically needed in that nation. During the show, officials from Sumatra and Java discussed best practices with U.S. public and private sector representatives to facilitate development of Indonesia’s smart cities and smart grid infrastructure.

In recent months, ITA has continued extensive industry outreach to raise awareness of Southeast Asian smart city business opportunities and to plan for future programming.

Looking Towards the Future

During the next few years, ITA will continue to organize sector specific smart cities programs at trade shows focused on water, safety and security, transportation, cybersecurity, and waste management, among others. In addition, ITA will lead expert advisor delegations to ASEAN cities to engage with municipal governments on specific challenges they are facing and advocate for U.S. smart cities solutions that address those challenges.

If you are interested in connecting with us on future U.S.-ASEAN Smart Cities programs, please email


Building Stronger Commercial Ties with ASEAN

March 2, 2016

Arun Kumar is ITA’s Assistant Secretary for Global Markets and the Director General of the U.S. and Foreign Commercial Service.

A few weeks ago, President Obama hosted Southeast Asia’s leaders just outside of Los Angeles, California. This summit with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) preceded a Bay Area “roadshow” allowing the countries’ economic ministers to witness innovation and entrepreneurship in action. The historic week helped highlight the launch of the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC), which will combine the 10 regional economies into a single market.


Economic Ministers from different Asian countries and their delegations meet with ITA’s Arun Kumar during the ASEAN Economic Minister Roadshow.

For the first time, an American president hosted all 10 ASEAN leaders for a stand-alone summit on U.S. soil. President Obama sought to demonstrate our long-term commitment to Southeast Asia, one of the world’s fastest growing and strategically important regions. U.S.-ASEAN relations are stronger than ever, as reflected in the joint decision to establish a Strategic Partnership in November. U.S. Commerce Secretary Pritzker, U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman, and the CEOs from Cisco, IBM, and Microsoft were all on hand with the President to greet ASEAN’s leaders.

The two-day ASEAN economic ministers roadshow kicked off with an outstanding conference in San Francisco organized by the U.S.-ASEAN Business Council with senior officials from government, business, and academia. The conference included several memorable speakers including an opening keynote by Indonesian President Joko Widodo and closing remarks by Tony Fernandes, CEO of Air Asia.

The gathering highlighted the realities and possibilities of the U.S.-ASEAN relationship following the launch of the AEC on December 31, 2015. Why does this economic integration initiative matter for the United States?

The ASEAN region represents 632 million consumers and a collective economy of more than $2.4 trillion. Taken together, it constitutes the world’s seventh largest economy. ASEAN is already our fourth largest trading partner with two-way goods and services trade reaching $254 billion in 2014. That reflects a 55 percent increase since 2009, and most importantly, supports more than 500,000 U.S. jobs.

This young and vibrant market will only continue to grow, as almost 60 percent of the region’s citizens are under 35, and its middle class is likely to double to almost 400 million by 2020. The conference participants acknowledged there is work to do to achieve the AEC’s full potential and even discussed plans to secure further gains over the next 10 years. From the ASEAN region’s perspective, the United States is important because of our vast and comparatively wealthy consumer class, strong rule of law, deep and liquid capital markets, and our robust protection of intellectual property.

At a meeting to assess progress under the U.S. Trade and Investment Framework Arrangement with ASEAN countries, we discussed efforts to further enhance trade and investment ties and promote regional integration. We also discussed the recent announcement of U.S.-ASEAN Connect, a new unified strategic vision for U.S. economic engagement with ASEAN, which will facilitate better access to U.S. information, resources, and insights, and augments the existing, on-the-ground U.S. presence through “Connect Centers” in Jakarta, Singapore, and Bangkok.

The ASEAN’s economic ministers and senior U.S. government officials also met with some of the Bay Area’s leading companies and the San Francisco government to exchange views on how to pursue environmentally sustainable growth and digital innovation – two key areas of U.S.-ASEAN cooperation.

We received technology demonstrations by cutting-edge U.S. innovators such as Autodesk, Silver Spring Networks, and Google, and met with Prospect Silicon Valley, a nonprofit technology incubator in San Jose. Autodesk demonstrated the potential of “generative design” that uses software to enable the creation of optimized designs, which are efficient in energy and material usage. Silver Spring Networks, which sells complex solutions for smart cities and power environments, presented examples of how the Internet of Things is conserving energy and resources. At Google, we saw the game-changing potential of their balloons (“loons”) to extend the Internet to remote areas. They are working to pilot loons in India, Indonesia, and Sri Lanka. These visits provided glimpses of how profoundly “software is eating the world,” to quote Marc Andreessen, co-founder of the leading venture capital firm Andreesen Horowitz.

Overall, it was a great couple of days and really fun to be back in Silicon Valley. The visits provided some powerful examples of American leadership in clean energy, digital infrastructure, and smart cities development, and illuminated the possibilities for greater commercial cooperation between the United States and the critically important ASEAN region.



Burma: An Old Civilization Opens to New Ideas

June 9, 2014

Doug Barry is a Senior International Trade Specialist in the International Trade Administration’s Global Knowledge Center.

Burma could become the next market for your goods and services.

Burma could become the next market for your goods and services.

Burma is opening up as a nation and an economy after decades of isolation. As the nation develops, there are numerous opportunities for U.S. companies to support the nation as it grows, modernizes, and brings in new products and services.

Commerce Secretary Pritzker completed a commercial diplomacy trip to Burma and other members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) along with a delegation of U.S. CEOs and the U.S.-ASEAN Business Council to solidify the commercial relationship between the United States and the region.

The International Trade Administration’s Commercial Service is also opening an office in Rangoon to support U.S. businesses looking for opportunities in this new market. Our staff will help companies understand market trends, navigate Burmese regulations, and find qualified business partners.

Commercial Officer Mike McGee is based in Thailand, but has worked with companies doing business in Burma for years. He spoke about the U.S.-Burma commercial relationship and path forward with Doug Barry of ITA’s Global Knowledge Center.

Barry: You commute regularly between Bangkok and Rangoon. Since we spoke a year ago about the easing of sanctions and the opening of the country to U.S. investment, in what ways have things changed?

McGee: Burma still has a wealth of need. After more than 50 years of stagnation and isolation, the country and its people need just about everything—from consumer goods to housing to a functioning electrical grid. So there is a huge opportunity, and there’s almost no sector that does not have tremendous need for bringing in new companies and products.

Barry: There is great internal and external pressure to open up more and to reform. How’s the government doing?

McGee: It depends on who you ask. I think it’s accurate to say that a lot of progress has been made in a short time, but much more needs to be done. We feel strongly that there can be a commercial connection to further recognition of human rights, and that will be a key focus of our work here going forward.

U.S. companies that are on the ground now fully support this approach. They are not here to extract and leave. They want to help the Burmese prosper, be free, and contribute to the well-being of the entire region. We are in this for the long haul, and much patience and engagement on every level is needed.

Barry: How do political and business leaders in Burma view the United States?

McGee: Very positively. We hear over and over again how the United States is the “Gold Standard” for just about everything.

In the area of energy production, especially electrical, the government invites greater participation by the U.S. private sector. They’re also interested in our LNG and wind power technology. Some earlier energy contracts have gone to UK and Chinese companies, but in future contracting rounds I think we’ll see much more U.S. participation.

Barry: U.S. economic sanctions have eased but not disappeared.

McGee: That’s true. If the reforms backslide or don’t continue forward, there needs to be consequences. The government is in uncharted waters, and there is much that we don’t understand about its workings.

That said, the United States is engaging with the Burmese on a variety of fronts. The U.S. Agency for International Development has programs in economic development and creating a civil society. The Peace Corps is setting up shop. Treasury and Agriculture people are here. The U.S. Commercial Service will open an office soon to help U.S. businesses spot opportunities and find buyers.

Barry: Burma is not a rich country, and “grinding” is an apt word to describe the poverty in the countryside where most Burmese live.

McGee: It’s not rich, yet. Burma is one of the most underdeveloped countries in the world, so it’s very difficult to try to introduce new technologies and new programs, partly because of the lack of a regulatory infrastructure, a legal infrastructure in place, but also just the poverty that exists.

The good news is that this is in many ways, a very wealthy country. It is very rich in resources and will have huge bearing for many years in the Southeast Asia and East Asia Pacific.

Barry: It’s a pretty exciting prospect for U.S. companies to get in on the ground floor.

McGee: Yes. What we have been largely advising is that companies find distributors and begin to get their products into the country. We can help, and will be even more helpful when the Commercial Service office opens in the U.S. Embassy later this year.

Barry: How do you help U.S. companies find partners?

McGee: We help with the due diligence process because there still is a fairly sizeable list of people who are prohibited for us to do business with. We offer a service called International Company Profile in which we make sure that their intended partners are the best choice in every sense of the phrase.

Increasingly, there are traders who are looking for the best businesspeople with the best price on the products the people need and want in the country. One of the things that I’ve been very surprised at is how vibrant the commercial environment is despite all of the prohibitions, despite all of the obstacles.

The Burmese are very resourceful, and they are very kind and friendly people.


Understanding Business Opportunities in Vietnam

June 3, 2014

Peggy Keshishian is the Acting Senior Commercial Officer in the International Trade Administration’s Foreign Commercial Service Team in Vietnam.

Secretary Pritzker met with leaders from the American Chamber of Commerce in Vietnam.

Secretary Pritzker met with leaders from the American Chamber of Commerce in Vietnam.

It was an honor to host Commerce Secretary Pritzker here in Vietnam. She and the visiting delegation of U.S. CEOs and the U.S.-ASEAN Business Council are absolutely right to prioritize the Vietnam market and their visit to the country will do nothing but help solidify a promising commercial relationship.

Here’s what I know about Vietnam: Despite some potential pitfalls, it is a hotbed of opportunity for U.S. businesses.

There are two important reasons Vietnam is a promising market:

  1. The country is modernizing, meaning there are numerous needs for infrastructure development. Improvements of transportation systems — including subways, highways, and airports — not only mean opportunities for U.S. firms, but also an improved business environment in the country.
  2. The population is also young; 70 percent of Vietnamese citizens are under 40 years old. That means there is tremendous opportunity for developing brand loyalty among consumers. Vietnamese citizens recognize the quality of U.S. products, and incomes in the country are rising. That helps create a promising environment for U.S. goods and services.

That said, it’s important to recognize there are some risks in the Vietnamese market.

Much of the money being injected into the economy comes from foreign sources, and is often provided by nations that expect their companies to receive a leg-up when it comes to competing for state contracts. You need to aware of how projects are financed so that you don’t end up spinning your wheels competing for a contract your business is unlikely to win.

This is something Secretary Pritzker addressed in several meetings with Vietnamese leaders, and I believe the country is taking important steps to increase transparency and fairness.

Our Foreign Commercial Service team works hard to make sure any American company looking to enter this market knows how to succeed. We work with our Commercial Service colleagues in the United States to support U.S. businesses with services like market research, finding the most qualified local partners, and discovering the best opportunities available.

We’ll remain here on the ground, continuing to support U.S. businesses and building off the success of the Secretary’s visit.

If you’re interested in opportunities in Vietnam – or in any other market – you should contact your nearest Export Assistance Center to get started.


An Infrastructure Trade Mission to Two Developing Markets

December 4, 2012

Adam S. Wilczewski serves as the Chief of Staff of the International Trade Administration.

Under Secretary of Commerce for International Trade Francisco Sanchez (L) speaks on a panel in Hanoi, Vietnam on November 14, 2012 with (L-R) Ambassador David B, Shear, Leocadia Zak of the U.S. Trade Development Agency and John Moran from the Overseas Private Investment Corporation.

Under Secretary of Commerce for International Trade Francisco Sanchez (L) speaks on a panel in Hanoi, Vietnam on November 14, 2012 with (L-R) Ambassador David B, Shear, Leocadia Zak of the U.S. Trade Development Agency and John Moran from the Overseas Private Investment Corporation.

Asia is home to many of the world’s fastest-growing economies. Countries like China and India readily come to mind. The impressive development of other Asian nations, however, should not be overlooked.

Two countries that have made big economic strides in recent years are Indonesia and Vietnam. They are among the fastest growing countries in the region, with growth rates of 6.5 and 5.9 percent, respectively, in 2011.

Both are members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), the bloc of 10 states that forms the United States’ fourth-largest trading partner, making Indonesia and Vietnam important to the U.S economy.

For this reason, the U.S. government is committed to further improving trade relations with both of them.  Under Secretary for International Trade, Francisco Sánchez, recently led an Infrastructure Trade Mission there, underscoring these countries importance.  This trip marked Sánchez’s third visit to Vietnam in 20 months.  Our U.S. Government partners at the U.S. Trade Development Agency and Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) joined the ITA on this trip for a true whole-of-government effort.

Eight U.S. infrastructure companies – Black and Veatch, Cisco Systems, General Electric Company, Honeywell International, Inc., Oshkosh Corporation, The Shaw Group, Westinghouse Electric Company, and WorleyParsons, LLC – took the opportunity to explore these two foreign markets. Both countries have pressing infrastructure needs due to their high growth rate, offering exciting prospects for U.S companies in that field.

While in Jakarta, Indonesia – our first stop – the delegation met with public and private sector leaders to discuss opportunities that would be mutually beneficial to both of our economies.

Here, OPIC signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Indonesian Infrastructure Guarantee Fund (IIGF). The organizations pledged to work more closely together to promote private sector infrastructure investment in the world’s fourth most populous country.  A supportive Under Secretary Sánchez stated that “increased investment in infrastructure supported by OPIC will help to accelerate Indonesia’s already-rapid economic growth.”

In Vietnam, the participants met with numerous government officials and representatives from the private sector. Highlights on the agenda included an encounter with the Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung and an American Chamber of Commerce hosted lunch in Hanoi.

Most discussions during the trade mission focused on the potential for collaboration on infrastructure projects in areas such as energy, aviation, environmental technology, architecture, construction and engineering.

This Infrastructure Trade Mission is another example of how the U.S. government is working to meet the National Export Initiative’s goal of doubling U.S. exports by the end of 2014.

Southeast Asia is an export market with great potential for U.S. businesses. This growing economic and political importance was underscored by the fact that President Obama chose to visit the region in November directly following his reelection.

Together, working in partnership with the U.S. business community, the International Trade Administration and the entire U.S. Government hope to continue to make progress in meeting infrastructure needs abroad in order to support good-paying jobs here at home.


U.S. Exporters Learn About Opportunities in Southeast Asia at Baltimore Event

December 7, 2011

U.S. companies looking to export to Southeast Asia were recently able to get a detailed look at opportunities in the region thanks to a two-day event in Baltimore, Maryland. It served as a prelude to a trade mission to the region that the Department of Commerce is leading in May 2012.

Paul Matino is an international trade specialist, and Christopher Goudey an intern, in the U.S. Export Assistance Center in Baltimore, Maryland.

A recent visit to Indonesia by President Barack Obama was a clear indication of the economic importance of Southeast Asia. The region, which includes 10 countries that are members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), is the United States’ fourth largest export market. Overall, it is the world’s ninth largest economy.

In order to help U.S. companies tap into this burgeoning market, the U.S. and Foreign Commercial Service (USFCS), a unit of the International Trade Administration, is organizing a trade mission to Southeast Asia on May 14–22, 2012. Called “Trade Winds—Asia,” the nine-day program will enable U.S. companies to meet with USFCS representatives from 14 different Asian markets, as well as conduct business-to-business meetings in Thailand, Vietnam, Singapore, Malaysia, and Indonesia.

The Trade Winds -- Asia highlights 14 different Asian markets. (Photo courtesy istock/PeskyMonkey)

The Trade Winds — Asia highlights 14 different Asian markets. (Photo courtesy istock/PeskyMonkey)

Two-day Preview

To offer a preview to companies contemplating participating in Trade Winds—Asia, the USFCS recently welcomed more than 75 companies to the “Southeast Asia Now Business Conference” that was held November 9–10 in Baltimore, Maryland. The two-day event was hosted by the Baltimore Export Assistance Center and attracted participants from throughout the Mid-Atlantic region. It featured nearly 30 speakers representing government agencies, the private sector, and trade associations.

Among the presenters was the keynote speaker, Marc Mealy of the U.S.-ASEAN Business Council. Other featured speakers at the event included current and former USFCS commercial officers in Vietnam, Singapore, and Thailand.

Aside from presentations, conference attendees were able to participate in interactive Exportech workshops, which assessed export readiness and helped provide guidance to exporters with respect to decisions about market suitability. They were also able to take part in one-on-one consultations with export counselors to discuss immediate export opportunities and financing options.

Realities of Doing Business

Attendee Gary Hall of Immediate Response Technologies of Glenn Dale, Maryland, found that the event was an excellent opportunity to learn about the realities of doing business in Southeast Asia. “The information was extremely helpful in providing me [with] pertinent facts on many Southeast Asia countries where our company is looking to expand our business. The economic facts and cultural nuances presented will be extremely valuable to [us] as we move forward.”

Southeast Asia Now was organized with the support of a number of other organizations, including the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, the U.S. Trade and Development Agency, the Export-Import Bank of the United States, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, the U.S. Small Business Administration, the Maryland-D.C. District Export Council, and the World Trade Center Institute.

For More Information

Trade Winds—Asia is a nine-day trade mission that will make stops in five countries in Southeast Asia. It will be led by a senior Department of Commerce official. Applications to participate will be accepted until March 30, 2012. Visit the Trade Winds forum for complete information regarding the application process, fees, and itinerary.