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Cablegate: Donors Propose Collective Action to Strengthen Asean

VZCZCXRO7748
RR RUEHCHI RUEHCN RUEHDT RUEHHM
DE RUEHJA #1927/01 2910436
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 170436Z OCT 08
FM AMEMBASSY JAKARTA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 0347
INFO RUEHZS/ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHEAST ASIAN NATIONS
RUEHKO/AMEMBASSY TOKYO 2612
RUEHPF/AMEMBASSY PHNOM PENH 0533
RUEHML/AMEMBASSY MANILA 3262
RUEHHI/AMEMBASSY HANOI 0630
RUEHBK/AMEMBASSY BANGKOK 8544
RUEHNE/AMEMBASSY NEW DELHI 2332
RUEHBY/AMEMBASSY CANBERRA 3168
RUEHWL/AMEMBASSY WELLINGTON 3171
RUEHGP/AMEMBASSY SINGAPORE 6346
RUCPDOC/DEPT OF COMMERCE WASHINGTON DC
RUEATRS/DEPT OF TREASURY WASHINGTON DC

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 JAKARTA 001927

SIPDIS
SENSITIVE

DEPT FOR EAP, EAP/RSP, EAP/MTS, EAP/MLS, EAP/EP
DEPT FOR EB/IFD/OMA
DEPT ALSO FOR OES/IET AND OES/ETC/TED
USAID FOR ASIA/ELLIS AND JENNINGS
BANGKOK FOR USAID/KISSINGER
CAMBODIA FOR USAID
MANILA FOR USAID
HANOI FOR USAID
SINGAPORE FOR BAKER
STATE PASS USTR FOR EHLERS

E.O. 12598: N/A
TAGS: ECON PHUM PREL PGOV KDEM ID BM
SUBJECT: DONORS PROPOSE COLLECTIVE ACTION TO STRENGTHEN ASEAN
SECRETARIAT

REF: Jakarta 1830

1.(SBU) Summary. Representatives from the Delegation of the European
Commission, AusAID, the Asian Development Bank, the Japanese
Embassy, USAID's Regional Mission in Bangkok and Embassy Jakarta met
on October 14 to discuss ASEAN donor coordination and communication.
The group shared common concerns regarding the ability of the ASEAN
Secretariat to utilize effectively increased levels of donor
funding. The group discussed the need for ASEAN to assume greater
ownership in setting priorities for donor activities and in the
financial management of ASEAN activities. The group also discussed
sending a collective letter to ASEAN Secretary General Surin
Pitsuwan requesting a meeting in early 2009 to discuss donor
concerns. At a dinner to thank donors for their support of ASEAN on
October 15, Secretary General Surin remarked that he is open to
suggestions from donors on how to maximize the benefit of donor
assistance. Mexican Ambassador to Indonesia, Melba Pria, met with
Embassy to discuss benefits of becoming an official ASEAN Dialogue
Partner. End Summary.

Donors Urge Greater Ownership by ASEAN
-------------------------------------

2. (SBU) Representatives from the Delegation of the European
Commission (EC), AusAID, the Asian Development Bank, the Japanese
Embassy, USAID's Regional Mission in Bangkok and Embassy Jakarta met
on October 14 to discuss ASEAN donor coordination and communication.
The group raised concerns that member countries have failed to
empower the ASEAN Secretariat to make decisions about ASEAN's
increasing number of goals, activities and donor programs (reftel).
The group noted that the ASEAN Charter does not provide significant
new funding streams or staff levels for the ASEAN Secretariat,
creating skepticism about the ability of the ASEAN Secretariat to
achieve its policy goals and effectively utilize increased donor
funding. All participants expressed a desire for greater budgetary
transparency on the part of ASEAN. Donors present at the meeting
worried that ASEAN's lack of ownership of its own funding structure
or project priorities will create a long-term dependence on donors.


Donors Propose Joint Letter to Secretary General
--------------------------------------------- ---
3. (SBU) The meeting participants discussed mechanisms by which
dialogue partners could collectively encourage greater transparency
and increased prioritization of policy goals by ASEAN. The EC
proposed that dialogue partners jointly request a meeting on
strengthening the ASEAN Secretariat and improving ASEAN's
transparency with the incoming ASEAN member country Permanent
Representatives in early 2009. [Note: Each of the ten member
countries will assign a Permanent Representative to the ASEAN
Secretariat in January 2009, if all ten member countries ratify the
ASEAN Charter before the ASEAN Summit in December. End Note.] The
meeting participants agreed to work jointly on a draft letter to
Secretary General Surin outlining our concerns and calling for the
Permanent Representative meeting to discuss donor issues. Each
donor country will circulate the draft among its government agencies
for clearance. The donors also agreed to work on a single document
outlining donor activities and funding levels to improve the flow of
information on donor programs.

Secretary General Hosts Informal Dinner for Donors
--------------------------------------------- -----
4. (SBU) Secretary General Surin hosted an informal dinner for donor
project implementation teams in Jakarta on October 15. Surin
stressed the importance of donor communication with the ASEAN
Secretariat to maximize the impact of donor contributions. He also
encouraged implementation teams to share information with other
donors to avoid redundancy across their programs. Surin is open to

JAKARTA 00001927 002 OF 002


suggestions from donors on how to strengthen the ASEAN Secretariat
and improve the effectiveness of donor assistance. Surin asserted
that ASEAN is on the verge of shifting toward a rules based
organization, which will improve the organization's ability to
enforce agreements and implement policy goals. Surin thanked donors
for their ongoing efforts to train and support ASEAN Secretariat
staff. In his view, a strong ASEAN Secretariat is critical to
achieving ASEAN integration and to maintaining a unified ASEAN
Community.

Mexico Expresses Interest in Formal ASEAN Ties
--------------------------------------------- -
5. (SBU) Mexican Ambassador to Indonesia Melba Pria met with the
Embassy recently to discuss the US experience as formal ASEAN
dialogue partner. Mexico hopes to become an ASEAN dialogue partner
in the near future, although Ambassador Pria noted that ASEAN has
been slow to respond to her request for formal discussions. Mexico
is seeking closer ties with Southeast Asia in an effort to diversify
its trade relationship. External trade with the United States
currently accounts for over 90 percent of total Mexican trade,
according to Ambassador Pria.

HUME

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