Mekong-U.S. Partnership Joint Ministerial Statement
OFFICE OF THE SPOKESPERSON
SEPTEMBER 15, 2020
The text of the following statement was released by the Governments of the United States of America, Cambodia, Lao PDR, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam on the occasion of the First Mekong-U.S. Partnership Ministerial Meeting on September 11, 2020.
- We, the Foreign Ministers of Mekong countries and the Secretary of State of the United States of America, on September 11, 2020, launch the Mekong-U.S. Partnership, building on the success of the Lower Mekong Initiative. Present at this First Mekong-U.S. Partnership Ministerial Meeting were the Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of Cambodia H.E. Prak Sokhonn; Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Lao PDR, H.E. Saleumxay Kommasith; Union Minister for International Cooperation of Myanmar H.E. U Kyaw Tin; Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Thailand H.E. Don Pramudwinai; U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Stephen Biegun, representing U.S. Secretary of State Michael Pompeo, and Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Viet Nam H.E. Pham Binh Minh. The ASEAN Secretary-General H.E. Dato Lim Jock Hoi attended the meeting as a guest.
- The Foreign Ministers and the Secretary reaffirm the strong friendship and successful collaboration between the United States and countries in the Mekong region. They also affirm that the Mekong-U.S. Partnership (“Partnership”) expands on over a decade of cooperation under the Lower Mekong Initiative (LMI) and will further strengthen transparency and good governance, and enhance connectivity, economic integration, inclusive and sustainable development, and help narrow the development gap in the region. The new Partnership will broaden and deepen our cooperation and allow for flexibility in addressing emerging issues. The Mekong-U.S. Partnership Foundational Document is included in this joint statement as an attachment.
- The Partnership promotes synergies between the ASEAN Outlook on the Indo-Pacific (AOIP) and the U.S. Indo-Pacific vision as appropriate. The Partnership advances the principles of ASEAN centrality, openness, transparency, good governance, equality, consensus, mutual benefit, respect for sovereignty, non-intervention, rule of law, respect for international law, inclusivity, and rules-based frameworks. The Partnership respects member countries’ domestic laws and regulations and also seeks to promote complementarity with ASEAN, ACMECS (the Ayeyawady-Chao Phraya-Mekong Economic Cooperation Strategy), the Mekong River Commission (MRC), and with other cooperation mechanisms.
- The Foreign Ministers and the Secretary reaffirm the importance of continued cooperation to mitigate the impacts of COVID-19, prevent, detect, and respond to future outbreak and pandemic threats, and facilitate a sustainable post-pandemic recovery. The Foreign Ministers and the Secretary also recognize the need for all to have unhindered timely access to quality, safe, efficacious and affordable diagnostics, therapeutics, medicines, and vaccines to combat the disease. The Foreign Ministers note with appreciation the $52 million in COVID-19 assistance from the United States to countries in the Mekong region to date this year. The Foreign Ministers and the Secretary also reaffirm their commitment to strengthen responses to and control of zoonotic diseases, including by adopting measures to mitigate the risks associated with wildlife markets.
- The Foreign Ministers and the Secretary welcome efforts to promote synergies and complementarities between the work of ASEAN and sub-regional cooperation frameworks in the region to advance regional integration and community-building efforts, and to elevate the profile of sub-regional development. They emphasize the importance of the Mekong region as an integral part of ASEAN. The prosperity of ASEAN’s sub-regions, including the Mekong, is essential to achieving the goals of ASEAN Community Building and to implementing our shared vision for promoting cooperation in the Indo-Pacific region. The Secretary of State also notes that the Mekong region’s growing importance is reflected in the United States’ increased engagement and assistance to the region.
- The Foreign Ministers and the Secretary commit to expanding areas of cooperation for the Mekong-U.S. Partnership, including but not limited to: 1) economic connectivity; 2) sustainable water, natural resources management, and environmental conservation and protection; 3) non-traditional security, including collaboration on emerging threats in health security, pandemic response, countering transnational crime, cyber security, and countering illicit trafficking in persons, in drugs, and in restricted and endangered wildlife species, and timber and 4) human resource development, including education and women’s empowerment.
- The Foreign Ministers and the Secretary note the one-year anniversary of the Japan-U.S.-Mekong Power Partnership (JUMPP) and welcome the 2020 Japan-U.S. Joint Ministerial Statement on the Japan-U.S.-Mekong Power Partnership (JUMPP) adopted on September 8. They also look forward to advancing diplomatic and technical partnerships that promote more sustainable power sectors, electricity trade, and high-quality energy infrastructure development that meets the needs of people in the Mekong region. The Ministers acknowledge the strong potential in energy production and reaffirm the value of transparency; free and fair competition, optimal mix of electricity supplies and advancing multilateral power trade in the Mekong sub-region, which is vital to promote regional stability, prosperity, and the region’s sustainable development. The Ministers and the Secretary commit to broaden and deepen cooperation to promote regional energy integration and market development through maintenance and expansion of flexible and competitive markets that mobilize private investment in diverse energy technologies. The Ministers of Mekong countries welcome the announcement of the U.S. and Japanese governments regarding new technical assistance in support of JUMPP and Mekong sub-regional energy security.
- The Foreign Ministers and the Secretary recognize the importance of water data sharing in accordance with the Mekong River Commission’s Procedures for Data and Information Exchange and Sharing (PDIES) and strengthening the role of the Mekong River Commission to achieve mutually beneficial, sustainable, cooperative river management. The Foreign Ministers and the Secretary believe that transparency and good governance in the Mekong River basin are more important than ever in the context of recent record droughts and other increasing challenges in the region. The Ministers share the view that transparent and cooperative river management would improve coordination especially when dealing with any potential natural disasters that arise, such as flood and drought. The Foreign Ministers and the Secretary note with appreciation a year of progress since the launch of MekongWater.org under the Mekong Water Data Initiative and the Sustainable Infrastructure Partnership, including opportunities for collaboration and innovation identified at the December 2019 Mekong Research Symposium.
- The Foreign Ministers and the Secretary reaffirm the importance of aligning the efforts of the Mekong-U.S. Partnership with those of other development partners, namely Japan, Australia, the ROK, and other Friends of the Mekong and agree to hold a Friends of the Mekong Ministerial Meeting in 2021.
- Under the Mekong-U.S. Partnership, the United States announces $6 million for new efforts and programs to advance shared interests in the Mekong region, including:
- Building on the $1 billion the U.S. International Development Finance Corporation (DFC) has already invested in Southeast Asia, the DFC aims to invest and catalyze billions more in Mekong infrastructure in the coming years. The Mekong countries will continue to improve their respective business climates to facilitate two-way trade and investment in support of sustainable, inclusive and innovative, high-quality, private sector-driven economic development.
- Coordinating an expanded Disaster Relief Exercise and Engagement (DREE).
- Committing $55 million in new funding to support countries in the Mekong region to combat transnational crime, in alignment with Australia.
- Directing $1.8 million in new funding to support the Mekong River Commission and its goals to strengthen and expand access to water data for science-based policy planning.
- Organizing a policy dialogue series on evolving opportunities and challenges in the Mekong region, to engage policy makers, business communities, and other stakeholders.
Heads of Delegation:
His Excellency Prak Sokhonn, the Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of Cambodia
His Excellency Saleumxay Kommasith, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Lao PDR
His Excellency U Kyaw Tin, the Union Minister for International Cooperation of Myanmar
His Excellency Don Pramudwinai, the Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Thailand
His Excellency Pham Binh Minh, the Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Viet Nam
The Honorable Stephen Biegun, the Deputy Secretary of State of the United States of America
His Excellency Dato Lim Jock Hoi, the Secretary-General of ASEAN