Beyond Borders

This session brings together a panel of Ambassadors in the region, The Honorable Kamala Shirin Lakhdhir, U.S. Ambassador to Malaysia, The Honorable Sung Kim, Ambassador to the Philippines,

The Honorable Kurt Tong, Consul General to Hong Kong and Macau and The Honorable Stephanie Syptak-Ramnath, Charge d’Affaires to Singapore moderated by Siobhan Das, AMCHAM Executive Director.

How American companies can help the US government move forward in this Asean region? It calls for understanding the unintended consequences of government changes and presenting it back to the government.

Besides the commitment to ensure a fair and reciprocal relationship between the US and other countries, concerns were also raised about trade deficits, sanctions on North Korea and challenges in the US-China relations which is leading to a trade war. The panelists provided insights into their respective country’s perspective, strengths and weaknesses and recognised that they will be operating in a competitive environment. Perseverance and patience are part of the solutions advocated besides raising the standards to maintain U.S.’s lead position in the world and working together to bring back the message to Washington.

Ambassador Kamala, who has been here for 14 months, said, “The most important thing she received from US firms here has been information and perspective.” She urged for comments to be forwarded as soon as possible as it takes time to assist and engage with the government.

Ambassador Sung, had the opportunity to work with the AMCHAM Korea, Tokyo and the Philippines and experienced tremendous coordination, cooperation and communications between the AMCHAMs and the embassy.

Ambassador Kurt, believes that two-way street communication is absolutely important and has an extraordinary close relationship with AMCHAM in Hong Kong (HK). According to Kurt, US is the largest and best economy in the world, the best people, most diverse, best technology but it is challenging environment out there. So, we need to raise our game and push really hard with strong ideas in an increasingly competitive world.

When the Americans first came to this region, it was not the consuls and ambassadors who led the way. It was the traders who came and sold ice to the region. American businesses have always led the way for us to this region, said Stephanie Syptak-Ramnath.

The narrative is as we go into the future, we are working together, the government and the private sector, to continue to chart a future for American presence in the ASEAN region.