Strategic Goal 2: Objective 2.2 - Rebalance to the Asia-Pacific through Enhanced Diplomacy, Security Cooperation, and Development

Bureau of Budget and Planning
April 2, 2014

Objective Overview

The United States "rebalance" to the Asia-Pacific reflects the recognition that the future security and prosperity of our nation will be significantly defined by events and developments in that region. The United States must enhance and deepen its strategic engagement and leadership role to influence and benefit from a rising Asia-Pacific. At a time when the region is building a more mature security and economic architecture to promote stability and prosperity, sustained, active U.S. engagement is essential. U.S. leadership will help strengthen that architecture and pay dividends for our security and prosperity well into this century. The U.S. goal in the Asia-Pacific is to establish a stable security environment, an open and transparent economic environment, and a political environment that respects universal rights and freedoms. Our efforts will yield benefits for the region and increase the economic prosperity and security of the United States.

Maintaining peace and security across the Asia-Pacific is central to global progress, whether through halting North Korea's proliferation activities, defending freedom of navigation and managing growing tensions over territorial disputes, or ensuring transparency in the region's military activities. Supporting trade liberalization and economic development in the region stands at the center of American economic and strategic interests, and is a key U.S. priority. U.S. economic vitality depends, in part, on the extent to which our private sector can access the opportunities offered by the Asia-Pacific's growing consumer base. Open markets in the region provide the United States unprecedented opportunities for commercial engagement and expansion of trade and investment ties. Adherence to our nation's values - in particular, our steadfast support for democracy and human rights - greatly enhances our credibility, stature, and authority. Strengthening and deepening people-to-people ties across the region underpins the goals of the rebalance.

While the Asia-Pacific is widely recognized as a region of economic dynamism, it is also home to 29 percent of the world's poor and the site of 60 percent of the globe's natural disasters. Many countries in the region face challenges associated with weak institutions, inadequate rule of law, and rising inequality. The United States seeks to help our partners in the region ensure that, as economies grow, the benefits of this growth are shared by those who are most in need.

Strategies for Achieving the Objective

Call-out stating: The Asia-Pacific is widely recognized as a region of economic dynamism, it is also home to 29 percent of the world's poor and the site of 60 percent of the globe's natural disasters.The United States is modernizing our alliances to provide the flexibility to respond to traditional and non-traditional security challenges. These treaty alliances, with Japan, the Republic of Korea, Australia, the Philippines, and Thailand, form the cornerstone of our strategic position in the Asia-Pacific. To meet transnational threats of terrorism, violent extremism, cybercrime, and nuclear, chemical, and biological proliferation, the United States is supporting Asia-Pacific countries as they adopt internationally recognized legal and policy frameworks aligned with the United States, and build their capacity to deter and mitigate these pressing threats. In cooperation with the Department of Defense and other national security agencies, our diplomats and programs are helping to maintain peace and security across the Asia-Pacific through efforts to achieve verifiable denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, halt North Korea's proliferation activities, maintain freedom of navigation, discourage aggressive acts, and promote increased transparency in military activities.

The United States has set a strong, comprehensive economic agenda for the region that combines expansion of trade and investment with greater regional economic integration. Our trade and investment ties with the Asia-Pacific region constitute the bedrock of our relations across the region, and underpin our nation's prosperity and influence. Our aim is to promote development of a rules-based regional economic and trade framework that provides an open, fair, and transparent commercial environment. Negotiation of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement remains the centerpiece of our economic strategy in the region. The TPP, with 12 members spanning the Pacific Rim that unites Asia and the Western Hemisphere, will foster economic growth and serve as a basis for regional economic integration as membership expands. In collaboration with other U.S. government agencies and the private sector, the State Department also will build on past successes within APEC to foster trade and investment liberalization and strengthen regional economic integration, with the goal of achieving a Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific. We will also seek opportunities to promote prosperity and stability through an Indo-Pacific Economic Corridor linking India and other countries of South Asia with Southeast Asia. We will increase U.S. development assistance that fosters trade ties, entrepreneurial activity, cleaner and more secure energy, food security, and economic empowerment of women in the region.

Call-out stating: Treaty alliances with Japan, the Republic of Korea, Australia, the Philippines, and Thailand, form the cornerstone of our strategic position in the Asia-Pacific.

The United States seeks to strengthen partner capabilities and policies to address shared challenges and bolster a rules-based order that operates in accordance with international laws, norms, and standards. Strengthened partnerships with China, Indonesia, and India - and with other emerging partners, including Vietnam and Burma - contribute to regional stability and prosperity. Building a cooperative partnership with China will be critical if U.S. engagement in the region is to continue to strengthen U.S. national security, promote trade and economic growth, and address transnational challenges. Our engagement with India has the potential to play an important role in ensuring economic and political diversification. The United States and India have common interests across a range of issues, and can work together to tackle security challenges, reinforce global norms, and expand trade. Indonesia is another important emerging power in Asia, and will play a central role in strengthening the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). Our engagement with Burma will support and encourage its political and economic reforms and national reconciliation. Vietnam, Mongolia, New Zealand, and Pacific Island countries also serve as important partners through their UN votes, peacekeeping activities, and efforts that align with our international economic and security priorities. Our people-to-people activities, including continued outreach to international exchange alumni, will play a critical role in building support within these countries for sustained U.S. cooperative partnerships.

The United States will advance our economic, political, and security interests by engaging regional political and economic institutions and fora to support these bodies as they become more effective organizations. Enhanced and multifaceted engagement with regional groupings such as ASEAN, the ASEAN Regional Forum, East Asia Summit, APEC, Lower Mekong Initiative, and the Pacific Islands Forum reinforces our bilateral relationships and provides additional venues to pursue cooperation with regional allies and partners. U.S. engagement with these bodies will help them establish, adopt, and promote rules and norms in line with the international norms needed for peace and stability, spur greater economic growth, and respond more effectively to regional security threats and manage crises.

Across the Asia-Pacific, the United States will join with its partners to promote democratic practices and improved governance, quality health and education, food security, strengthened disaster preparedness/emergency response, and improved environmental stewardship. This cooperation will contribute to greater civilian security, stability, and prosperity and stronger ties throughout the region. Democratic development is essential to regional prosperity and security. Only strong democratic institutions and responsive governments provide the framework that paves the way for solid economic growth, improved health outcomes, greater food security, quality education, strengthened emergency response, adaptability to climate change, and stronger livelihoods overall.

Performance Goal 2.2.1 - Strengthen Regional Economic Integration

Performance Goal Statement. By September 30, 2017, U.S. diplomatic engagement and assistance will achieve key steps toward achieving trade and investment liberalization and regional economic integration in the Asia-Pacific, including through the Trans-Pacific Partnership, ASEAN economic community, the Lower Mekong Initiative, and APEC.