The U.S. Department of State, in collaboration with Arizona State University (ASU), proudly inaugurated the U.S.-ASEAN Center in Washington, D.C. The event was marked by insightful remarks from Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs, Liz Allen, who emphasized the Center’s pivotal role in fortifying the U.S.-ASEAN relationship.
The ceremony featured additional remarks from prominent figures, including ASU Chief Operating Officer Christopher B. Howard, Embassy of Indonesia Chargé d’affaires Ida Bagus Made Bimantara, U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth, and U.S. Representative Joaquin Castro. Their contributions further emphasized the wide-ranging support for this collaborative initiative.
We know that in the modern world, foreign policy is about relationships. And as some of you know, I’m fond of saying that it’s not just about government-to-government relationships, but about people-to people relationships. This U.S.-ASEAN center is going to be a key initiative to keep building those relationships and understanding between the people of the U.S. and the people across ASEAN.– Under Secretary Allen at the opening of the U.S.-ASEAN Center in Washington D.C. (December 14, 2023)
Announced during the 2023 U.S.-ASEAN Summit by Vice President Kamala Harris, the Center is poised to become a vital hub for fostering engagement between the United States and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). Designed to amplify support for U.S. economic and cultural ties with Southeast Asia, the Center will serve as a nexus connecting private sector entities, academic institutions, and civil society.
Under Secretary Allen underscored the enduring strength of the U.S.-ASEAN partnership, emphasizing the extensive cooperation established since the initiation of their dialogue partnership in 1977. With the United States being the largest source of foreign direct investment in Southeast Asia, the economic collaboration has resulted in a record $520.3 billion in total trade in 2022, creating over 625,000 jobs in the U.S. and 1 million jobs throughout Southeast Asia.
The U.S. -ASEAN Center’s activities will contribute to the joint efforts of the United States and ASEAN in promoting an open, connected, prosperous, resilient, and secure Indo-Pacific region. Recognizing the importance of people-to-people engagements, Under Secretary Allen highlighted her recent work in Indonesia, expanding the Fulbright program to religious schools and advocating for increased student exchanges.
In her remarks, Under Secretary Allen expressed gratitude to ASU for its enduring partnership, acknowledging its commitment to academic programs and studies focused on Southeast Asia and the broader Indo-Pacific region. The establishment of the U.S.-ASEAN Center marks a further significant step in strengthening bilateral ties and fostering lasting collaboration in the relationship between the United States and the ASEAN nations, which was elevated to a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership when President Biden attended the 2022 ASEAN Summits in Phnom Penh. The Department looks forward to the continued success of this initiative in the years to come.