Royal Thai Embassy and American University co-hosted an ASEAN symposium

On 20 November 2019, the Royal Thai Embassy and the ASEAN Studies Initiative of American University’s School of International Service co-hosted “Thailand as the 2019 ASEAN Chair: Advancing Partnership for Sustainable Development” symposium at the Royal Thai Embassy to identify key policy initiatives and collaborative efforts among ASEAN, the U.S., and other East Asian Summit (EAS) member states addressed during the ASEAN-U.S. Summit and the EAS recently held in Thailand. The symposium began with a keynote panel and followed by a panel session to analyse and evaluate the progress achieved during Thailand’s ASEAN Chairmanship regarding ASEAN-U.S. strategic partnership, particularly under the political-security, economic and socio-cultural pillars. Participants include individuals from academic circle, think-tanks, Asia-Pacific-related organisations, and businesses, as well as government officials, college students, and interested persons.

During the keynote panel, Ambassador Thani Thongphakdi, Ambassador of Thailand to the U.S. briefed on Thailand’s accomplishments realised throughout 2019 as the ASEAN Chair before discussed with Ambassador Atul Keshap, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary, Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs, Department of State on successes and challenges of the ASEAN-U.S. cooperation, as well as expectation of further U.S. engagement in the region, while Dr. Satu Limaye, Director of East-West Center was the moderator.

For the panel session, (1) ASEAN-U.S. political and security cooperation represented by Dr. Amitav Acharya, Professor and Chair of ASEAN Studies Initiative, American University and Mr. Walter Lohman, Director of Asian Studies Center, Heritage Foundation; (2) ASEAN-U.S. economic cooperation represented by Mr. Alexander Feldman, President and CEO of U.S.-ASEAN Business Council; and (3) ASEAN-U.S. social and cultural cooperation represented by Mr. John Brandon, Senior Director of International Relations Programs, Asia Foundation, while Dr. Pek Koon Heng, Assistant Professor and Director of ASEAN Studies Initiative, American University, was the moderator. The panelists discussed at length on challenges and opportunities for ASEAN-U.S. cooperation, both during the past year while Thailand is the ASEAN Chair and for the years to come.

Mr. Pham Hung Tam, Deputy Chief of Mission of the Embassy of Vietnam to the U.S. wrapped up the proceedings with a speech on “Looking Ahead: Vietnam as 2020 Incoming ASEAN Chair,” on focuses and priorities, including anticipation on more U.S. engagement in the region next year.

All attendants enjoyed an authentic Thai taste reception hosted by Ambassador Thani at the Royal Thai Embassy after such constructive and fruitful discussions.