Marking an important pivot in U.S. policy toward the East Asia and Pacific Region, the Administration in 2011 articulated a new strategy to lock in substantially increased investment in "America's Pacific Century." This new strategy for Asia will guide such U.S. Government activities from reinvigorating already strong relations with treaty allies, building new partnerships with emerging powers in the region, engaging with multilateral institutions, expanding trade and investment, forging a broad based military presence, and advancing democracy, human rights and the rule of law.
The region accounts for nearly one-third of the earth's population and 25 percent of global gross domestic product. It contains five of the United States' top 15 trading partners and is home to long-standing allies as well as security relationships. As such, the Asia-Pacific region plays a central role in shaping the course of the world's economy, maintaining international peace and stability, and addressing key transnational issues such as energy, environment and climate change, infectious diseases, and nonproliferation.
Burma: The United States is unwavering in its support of a peaceful, prosperous, and democratic Burma. During her historic trip to Burma in December 2011, Secretary Clinton, the first Secretary of State to visit Burma in over 50 years, assessed incremental signs of nascent political opening in Burma that followed our policy of principled engagement and maintaining appropriate pressure to bring about democratic reform and national reconciliation. While newly-confirmed U.S. Special Representative and Policy Coordinator for Burma, Ambassador Derek Mitchell, led diplomatic efforts in FY 2011 to strengthen key partnerships with non-governmental groups and engage with key players in the Burmese Government, USAID led development efforts supporting vulnerable populations and key civil society actors. For example, USAID's Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance (OFDA) worked with organizations operating in Burma to deliver life-saving assistance in response to Cyclone Giri, including relief supplies that benefitted nearly 15,000 individuals. Additionally, USAID has initiated a five-year humanitarian assistance program in Burma to provide microfinance, maternal and child health and water and sanitation to disadvantaged communities in the Dry Zone. The United States remains committed to providing further support as reforms proceed and progress is made toward realizing the democratic aspirations of the Burmese people. We continue to call for the release of all political prisoners, a halt to hostilities in ethnic areas and an inclusive dialogue with ethnic minorities toward national reconciliation, space for all political parties to freely compete in by-elections scheduled for April 1, 2012, and full implementation of legislation to protect universal freedoms of expression, assembly, and association.
Japan: Japan and the U.S. share a strong and vibrant partnership. Our alliance helps safeguard regional security and is the cornerstone of U.S. strategic engagement throughout the Asia Pacific. Immediately following the disaster of unprecedented scale resulting from the earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear accident in March 2011, USAID/OFDA activated a Response Management Team in Washington, D.C., and deployed a Disaster Assistance Response Team (DART) to Japan. In cooperation with the Government of Japan (GoJ), civil society, and the private sector, the Department and USAID have supported Japan's recovery and worked to renew business interest in the region. During the nascent recovery process in April, Secretary Clinton and then-Foreign Minister Matsumoto, with the support of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the Keidanren business federation, announced a public-private Partnership for Reconstruction which has been bolstered by visits to Japan by Vice President Biden and other senior officials. Public and private contributions, both large and small, from communities around the United States have directly aided relief and recovery efforts in the spirit of the Partnership for Reconstruction. Within the Partnership, and echoing our early rescue and relief efforts in Operation Tomodachi conducted alongside Japanese authorities, Embassy Tokyo and the U.S. Japan Council are spearheading the Tomodachi Initiative, whose education, business, sports, and arts programs seek to harness the energy of Japan's young leaders and entrepreneurs.
Philippines: The Philippines is a key U.S. treaty ally. The U.S. Government's primary goal in the Philippines is to help the country become a stable, prosperous, and well-governed nation. Towards this end, during her November 2011 visit to Manila, Secretary Clinton signed a Joint Statement of Principles with her Philippines counterpart, officially launching the U.S.-Philippines Partnership for Growth (PFG). The five-year program is the signature inter-agency effort of President Barack Obama's Presidential Policy Directive on Global Development which elevates economic growth in countries committed to good governance as a core priority for U.S. development efforts. Through the Partnership for Growth (PFG), the U.S. Government coordinated with the Government of the Philippines (GPH) to devise a comprehensive strategy to accelerate the country's path to sustainable, inclusive economic growth and development. We worked together to identify key priorities for PFG programming in the Philippines that would: (i) improve regulatory quality; (ii) strengthen the rule of law and anti-corruption enforcement; and (iii) expand fiscal space. The Philippines PFG not only represents strong diplomatic engagement with the GPH, but it also demonstrates unprecedented interagency collaboration to maximize development outcomes in the Philippines. Several U.S. Government agencies, in addition to State and USAID, continue to demonstrate successful cooperation and are actively engaged as key implementing PFG partners.