The Mekong-U.S. Partnership (MUSP) (hereafter referred to as “The Partnership”) promotes the stability, peace, prosperity, and sustainable development of the Mekong sub-region through cooperation between Mekong-region countries and the United States in addressing transboundary challenges. It further reinforces the strong and longstanding relationships among the United States, Cambodia, Lao PDR, Myanmar, Thailand, and Vietnam.
The Partnership strengthens our cooperation and dialogue and expands collaboration on new challenges and opportunities. The Partnership, which complements the ASEAN-U.S. Strategic Partnership, supports the implementation of the ASEAN Community Vision 2025, the ASEAN Comprehensive Recovery Framework, and the ASEAN Outlook on the Indo-Pacific, which aims to safeguard and preserve ASEAN centrality and to maintain peace, security, and prosperity for the peoples in Southeast Asia as well as in the Indo-Pacific region. In addition, the Partnership seeks to promote complementarity with the Ayeyawady-Chao Phraya-Mekong Economic Cooperation Strategy (ACMECS), the Mekong River Commission (MRC), and other Mekong cooperation mechanisms.
This Plan of Action is guided by the Partnership’s Foundational Document and Joint Ministerial Statement, which were approved by the Partners on September 11, 2020, at the first Partnership Ministerial meeting and by the Friends of the Mekong Policy Dialogue on January 12, 2021. The Plan outlines unique opportunities for U.S. engagement with Mekong communities, government decision makers, and international partners, including scientists, academia, development partners, and other stakeholders.
The United States and Mekong countries intend for the Partnership to serve as a platform for high-level cooperation on strategic challenges and policy-making in the Mekong sub-region on shared priorities between the United States and Mekong countries. By implementing this Plan of Action, Partners endeavor to strengthen transparency and good governance; enhance connectivity, economic integration, and inclusive and sustainable development; and help narrow the development gap in the region.
Areas of Cooperation:
The Partnership expands on more than 11 years of cooperation through the Lower Mekong Initiative (LMI) with a comprehensive approach to emerging challenges, including but not limited to: (1) economic connectivity; (2) sustainable water use, natural resources management, and environmental conservation and protection; (3) non-traditional security issues including trafficking in persons, trafficking in narcotics, wildlife and timber, health security, cybersecurity, and disaster response and preparedness; and (4) human resource development. This Plan of Action and the activities listed in its Annexes promote collaborative approaches to regional challenges and opportunities.
Partners will cooperate through various means and mechanisms, and report progress at least annually. Partnership activities aim to promote peace, stability, and prosperity, promote respect for international law and member countries’ domestic laws and regulations, and support the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Activities promote inclusive economic growth and sustainable development 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; innovative capacity building; and strengthening friendship and partnership among the Mekong countries and the United States. Activities also assist Partners to address shared challenges, such as transnational crime, natural disasters, and health security, and promote climate change adaptation and mitigation, water-food-energy security, and effective sustainable natural resource management, including in fisheries resources.
Information Sharing on Partnership Activities:
All partners will share developments of all activities under this Plan of Action openly and transparently through Policy Dialogues and Senior Officials Meetings (SOM).
Friends of the Mekong:
Mekong countries, the United States, Australia, the European Union, India (invited), Japan, New Zealand, the Republic of Korea, the Asian Development Bank, the Mekong River Commission Secretariat, and the World Bank coordinate their priorities for the development of the Mekong region as the Friends of the Mekong (FOM). The FOM are committed to the shared principles of the Mekong-U.S. Partnership, including values that have underpinned peace and prosperity across the Indo-Pacific region for decades, and to respect the principles of transparency, inclusivity, good governance, ASEAN centrality, multilateralism and the UN-centered international system, a rules-based order with respect for international law, and complementarity with existing cooperation frameworks.
Structure and Schedule of Meetings:
Partnership meetings are co-chaired by the United States and one of the five Mekong member countries, rotating annually in alphabetical order. Friends of the Mekong meetings may be scheduled together with these meetings or individually.
Track 1.5 Dialogue Series:
Implemented by the Stimson Center and the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, a series of seven in-depth dialogues that are scheduled to take place from 2021 – 2023 to explore solutions to key policy and sustainability challenges facing the Mekong region. Partnership Track 1.5 Dialogues bring together experts from MUSP member countries, experts from other dialogue partner countries, private sector experts, and others. Each Dialogue will publish a report to inform Partnership Senior Officials and the public and to assist in MUSP program development.
Held at the Deputy Director General level, this meeting is intended as an exchange of views on shared annual priorities for the Partnership, provide an annual update on progress of Partnership activities and to inform Senior Officials. Additional working-level meetings may be held, as necessary, to coordinate responses to and projects addressing specific regional challenges identified by the Partners.
Senior Officials’ Meetings (SOM):
Including the MUSP Senior Officials’ Meeting and the FOM Senior Officials’ Meeting, held concurrent with ASEAN SOM meetings and/or when necessary, senior officials will exchange views on shared priorities in the region, and prepare for the MUSP/FOM Ministerial Meetings.
Held concurrent with ASEAN + series of Foreign Ministers’ Meetings, the Ministerial Meetings are intended to be the premier annual diplomatic engagement of the Partnership and the Friends of the Mekong.
By agreement of the Partners, may be scheduled with the ASEAN – U.S. Summit. (Annex I and II of the Plan of Action can be found in the gallery below)