The United States and the Mekong partner countries launched the Mekong-U.S. Partnership with a Joint Statement identifying Partnership priorities. This Joint Statement includes a Mekong-U.S. Partnership Foundational Document and references the Japan-U.S. Joint Statement on the Japan-U.S.-Mekong Power Partnership for future energy sector collaboration.
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
Mekong-U.S. Partnership Foundational Document
September 11, 2020
The Mekong-U.S. Partnership (hereafter referred to as “The Partnership”) promotes the stability, peace, prosperity, and sustainable development of the Mekong sub-region and cooperation in addressing transboundary challenges among Mekong countries and the United States. It further reinforces the strong and longstanding relationship among the United States, Cambodia, Lao PDR, Myanmar, Thailand, and Viet Nam. The Partnership builds upon 11 years of cooperation and progress through the Lower Mekong Initiative (LMI) to expand collaboration in the face of new challenges and opportunities. The Partnership supports the implementation of the ASEAN Community Vision 2025 and is an integral part of support and cooperation between the United States and ASEAN.
Context: At the 10th anniversary of the LMI Ministerial Meeting on August 1, 2019, the foreign ministers of Mekong countries and the U.S. Secretary of State reviewed LMI’s concrete achievements over the previous decade and affirmed the partnership between countries of the Mekong sub-region and the United States should effectively respond to new challenges and opportunities facing the region. Following the LMI Ministerial Meeting, the United States and Mekong countries expressed their intent to upgrade and evolve their framework of sub-regional cooperation to encompass new areas that complement the existing cooperation areas implemented under the rubric of LMI, and to reflect a desire to make that framework more strategic, focused, and effective.
Principles: 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, and rule of law, and respect for international law, inclusivity, and rules-based frameworks The Partnership respects member countries’ domestic laws and regulations and also seeks to promote complementarity and coordination with ACMECS, MRC, ASEAN, and other Mekong development partners and cooperation mechanisms.
Objectives: The Partnership serves as a platform for high-level cooperation on strategic challenges and policy making in the Mekong sub-region, and as an impetus for the full spectrum of collaboration on shared priorities between the United States and Mekong countries. Partnership activities aim to promote peace, stability, and prosperity, and to support the achievement of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Activities also promote inclusive economic growth and sustainable development of the member countries through connectivity, narrowing the development gap, digital economy and human resource development, transparent, rules-based approaches to addressing the region’s development challenges, regional integration and innovative capacity building, and strengthening friendship and partnership among the Mekong countries and the United States. The Partnership also assists member countries in addressing shared challenges, such as transnational crime, natural disasters, and health security; promoting climate change adaptation and mitigation, water-food-energy security, and effective natural resource management.
Areas of Cooperation: The Partnership intends to promote cooperation on shared priorities. In addition to the LMI’s priorities, the expanded priority areas of cooperation to be encouraged through the Partnership include but are not limited to:
- Economic Connectivity, including support for quality infrastructure, national electricity market development, cross-border energy trade, Micro-Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) development, agriculture, transportation, trade and investment facilitation, and digital infrastructure and economy.
- Sustainable Water, Natural Resources Management, and Environmental Conservation and Protection, including support for a technically sound, well-coordinated and consensus-based approach to managing the shared bounty of the Mekong River Basin, and support for the Mekong River Commission (MRC)’s mandate and role in promoting cooperation for the sustainable development of the Mekong River Basin; also, support for environmental conservation and protection in the Mekong sub-region and to enhance member countries’ capacity in the sustainable conservation and management of natural resources.
- Non-Traditional Security, including countering transnational crime (including the illicit trafficking of drugs, wildlife, timber, and trafficking in persons); health security, including emergency preparedness and response for pandemics and epidemics; cyber security; disaster response and preparedness and humanitarian assistance/for disaster relief (HADR).
- Human Resource Development, including support for human capital development through education, vocational training, youth empowerment, women’s economic empowerment, university cooperation, and education/student and professional exchanges.
Cooperation in priority areas is expected to be implemented through a project-based approach and policy dialogues. To carry out the areas of cooperation, the Partnership shall develop a medium-/long-term plan, of which the existing LMI be incorporated. Funding mechanism to support the Partnership’s activities should also be clearly elaborated.
Structure and Schedule of Meetings: Partnership meetings are expected to be co-chaired by the United States and one of the five Mekong member countries, rotating annually and in alphabetical order. Each year, the Partnership plans to organize a Ministerial meeting in conjunction with the ASEAN Ministerial Meeting (AMM) in August and may culminate in a Leaders’ Meeting. The annual calendar of Partnership meetings are as follows:
- Policy Dialogue (January/February timeframe): Held at Deputy Director General level, this meeting is intended as an exchange of views on shared annual priorities for the Partnership, and to inform SOM leaders. Additional working-level meetings may be held as necessary.
- Senior Officials Meetings (SOM) (April/May timeframe): Held concurrent with ASEAN-related SOM meetings (e.g. East Asia Summit SOM, ARF SOM), this meeting is intended as an exchange of views on shared priorities in the region, and to prepare for a successful Ministerial Meeting. Also includes a Friends of the Lower Mekong (to be renamed Friends of the Mekong) SOM.
- Ministerial Meeting: Held each August concurrent with ASEAN-related Foreign Ministers’ Meetings (e.g. Post Ministerial Conference +1 [PMC+1] with the U.S., EAS Ministerial, ARF Ministerial), the Ministerial Meeting is intended to be the premier annual diplomatic engagement of the Partnership. A Friends of the Lower Mekong Ministerial Meeting may be held, as appropriate, in the same timeframe.
- Leaders’ Meeting: May be held back-to-back with ASEAN – U.S. Summit when necessary by agreement of all parties.
Japan-U.S. Joint Ministerial Statement on Japan-U.S.-Mekong Power Partnership (JUMPP)
- The Governments of the United States of America and Japan, on the occasion of the one-year anniversary of the Japan-U.S.-Mekong Power Partnership (JUMPP);
- Underscoring our shared objective of sustainable and inclusive economic growth and prosperity through promoting, inter alia, fair and reciprocal energy trade and access to affordable, reliable, and secure energy;
- Sharing the firm belief that energy sector resilience is critical to economic growth, political stability, and that universal access to modern energy services is a prerequisite for social and economic development;
- Reaffirming the strong potential in energy production and the value of transparency; free and fair competition; diversification of energy sources, suppliers and routes; the sovereign right of states to partner economically with countries and entities of their choosing in developing their energy resources; and the unfettered flow of energy supplies in the Indo-Pacific region, including the Mekong sub-region, which is vital to regional stability, prosperity, and development;
- Renewing our pledge to advance partnerships that promote a more sustainable energy sector and quality energy infrastructure development that meets the needs of people in the Mekong sub-region, in accordance with the international standards of quality infrastructure investment such as those mentioned in the “G20 Principles for Quality Infrastructure Investment,” including openness, transparency, economic efficiency and debt stability;
- Acknowledging electricity demand in Mekong partner countries is projected to increase by 6 to 7 percent per year and the urgent need to meet this rising demand with secure, accessible, affordable, and reliable electricity and high-quality, sustainable power sector investment
- Recognizing that governments in the Mekong sub-region are seeking to increase their use of diverse and variable renewable energy resources, which present opportunities and challenges for modernizing policy and regulatory frameworks, increasing electricity trade, and improving power system operations;
- Recognizing that increased power trade and, in the long term, an integrated electricity market will better prepare the Mekong sub-region to meet demand growth, maximize use of existing power infrastructure, and optimize each country’s potential while encouraging renewable energy resource development and the power sector reforms necessary to attract private sector investment;
- Reflecting upon the development trajectory of the Mekong sub-region’s power sector, the need for sustainable utility-scale hydropower installations, the connectedness of water and energy security in the Mekong sub-region, and the urgent need for regional coordination to advance diversified, resilient, and sustainable power systems moving forward;
- Acknowledging that a global energy transition is underway, increasing in pace and complexity, and expanding the deployment of new, advanced energy technologies posing challenges to traditional models of energy governance, electrical grid architecture, and market structures;
- Promoting enhanced bilateral and regional power trade for energy security and economic integration, and cognizant that regional electricity trade mutually benefits electricity importers and exporters through market integration, the expansion of market size and increasing access to affordable, sustainable, and modern power, and enhancing energy connectivity;
- Affirming the important role of the Japan-U.S.-Mekong Power Partnership (JUMPP) toward achieving the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), in particular Goal 7: “Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy;” and acknowledging JUMPP’s important and initial contributions during its inaugural year, including projects listed in the annex;
- Recognizing JUMPP forms part of the enduring economic and energy cooperation partnership between our countries, and welcoming the expanded partnerships the United States and Japanese governments have established with the Mekong partner countries to build stronger, more competitive, and more interconnected electricity markets and infrastructure;
- Noting ongoing cooperation under the Mekong-U.S. Partnership, Mekong-Japan cooperation, and the ASEAN-U.S. Strategic Partnership; and the implementation of regional initiatives such as the Asia Enhancing Development and Growth through Energy (Asia EDGE) and the Japan-U.S. Strategic Energy Partnership (JUSEP);
- Recalling the stated objectives of the Ayeyawady-Chao Phraya-Mekong Economic Cooperation Strategy (ACMECS) and its Master Plan (2019-2023), the Master Plan on ASEAN Connectivity (MPAC) 2025, and the “Tokyo Strategy 2018” adopted at the 10th Mekong-Japan Summit, and recognizing the importance of aligning our cooperation on energy under JUMPP with those strategies and plans;
- Decide to broaden and deepen our cooperation to promote regional energy integration and market development through maintenance and expansion of flexible, transparent, and competitive markets for energy commodities and technologies;
- Identify opportunities for JUMPP to accelerate Mekong sub-regional infrastructure connectivity as a shared objective to expand energy access, better harness the Mekong sub-region’s natural resources, mobilize private investment, improve energy services, and to better respond to energy shocks and disruptions;
- Decide to expand capacity-building and technical assistance, including on-the-job training, amongst JUMPP partners to improve institutional and regulatory frameworks, strengthen energy sector governance, help unlock private investment in Mekong partner countries’ power sectors, and grow cross-border energy trade;
- Support advancement of key enablers of electricity market integration, including cross border power trade for more efficient power and to optimize the use of energy resources in the region; development of a functional regional grid code; improvement of efficiency and utilization rates for existing transmission capacity to expand cross-border power trade; development of regional legal and regulatory roadmaps to facilitate regional trade expansion; promotion of bankable, standardized power purchase agreements to drive private investment; promotion of bankable projects; enhanced deployment of wind, solar, natural gas, and advanced power generation technologies to diversify the region’s electricity mix; and progress on competitive market reforms and institutions;
- Promote a nexus approach to water-food-energy security to ensure that the construction and operation of energy projects in the region will reduce, mitigate, or eliminate negative impacts on the environment and affected communities in the development of the Mekong river basin;
- Intend to strive for enhanced coordination amongst ASEAN Member States, Heads of ASEAN Power Utilities and Authorities, Asian Development Bank, World Bank, United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific, International Energy Agency, and other partners that support regional electricity integration and promote the international standards of quality infrastructure investment mentioned in the newly endorsed “G20 Principles for Quality Infrastructure Investment;”
- Decide to formulate a JUMPP action plan within one year and to hold an annual meeting of JUMPP diplomatic representatives and technical experts on the margins of the annual Mekong-U.S. Partnership and Friends of the Lower Mekong Senior Officials Meetings to establish time-bound objectives and benchmarks, review progress, address barriers to integration, and to facilitate intercessional communications amongst JUMPP partners.
Annex: List of projects supported by JUMPP in 2019-2020
- Supporting Thailand’s electric utility, Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand (EGAT), in establishing an energy-trading company that would improve utilization of existing electricity generation assets while facilitating expansion of cross-border electricity flows by enabling domestic and regional power exchange;
- Supporting EGAT preparations for third-party access to the national transmission network, which would allow independent and small power producers to sell excess renewable power– a key enabler for expanded regional power trade;
- Advising EGAT on available technologies for grid modernization and digitalization to facilitate increased use of variable renewable energy;
- Supporting Thailand’s Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) to open the domestic gas market and build a competitive regulatory framework to attract private investment;
- Supporting Thailand’s ERC on creating regulatory incentives and tools to facilitate distributed energy resources, as well as enhance sector transparency through the implementation of the U.S. Uniform System of Accounting;
- Advising Vietnam’s regulator on ongoing wholesale and retail electricity competitive market development progress, as well as development of an ancillary services market to provide additional economic value and system stability and competitiveness to Vietnam’s electricity market;
- Helping Vietnamese Electricity (EVN) and power system and market operator NLDC reliably integrate over 4,500 MW of new solar generation, and build technical capacity to better integrate high levels of wind and solar power penetration in the upcoming time, including advisory support on whether to establish a Renewable Energy Control Center;
- Attracting investment in renewable energy projects to meet ASEAN objectives for regional renewable energy targets and to proliferate viable commercial models for deployment of clean energy;
- Building regional capacity for all Mekong partner countries by bringing energy ministries, regulators, and electric utilities together to train with U.S. experts on cross-border electricity trade, renewable energy integration, and the benefits of transparent, competitive procurement;
- Engaging with the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) Public Private Partnership team to jointly identify potential projects for JICA’s Private Sector Investment Finance (PSIF), which builds upon on Japan’s “Initiative on Overseas Loan and Investment for ASEAN”, announced by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in November 2019, aimed at expanding and greening infrastructure investments in the region;
- Employing Japan’s Initiative on Overseas Loan and Investment for ASEAN to build and operate a combined cycle gas turbine power plant in the RojanaRayong 2 Industrial Park of Thailand and a solar power plant in Tây Ninh Province in Vietnam;
- Sharing regional best practices to showcase state-of-the-art management of distributed energy resources (DER) and cross-border power trade through the Clean Power Asia program, a USAID-JICA partnership to highlight best practices to a regional audience, most recently through the ADB virtual event “Asia Clean Energy Forum 2020;”
- Delivery of JICA’s Power Network System Master Plan for Lao PDR;
- USAID and JICA’s partnership to develop an Integrated Resource and Resilience Plan for Lao PDR;
- Supporting power quality improvements through grid code enforcement and the use of JICA advisory teams dispatched to the Lao PDR Ministry of Energy and Mining (MEM); and
- Supporting the Power Sector Development in Myanmar through the partnership with JICA for Technical Cooperation Programs and funding the Projects with Grants and ODA Loans.