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  • Author: Brian Eyler, Courtney Weatherby
  • Publication Date: 10-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: East-West Center
  • Abstract: On September 11, 2020 the United States, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand, Vietnam, and the ASEAN Secretariat launched the Mekong-US Partnership, a regional cooperation framework which upgrades the Obama-era Lower Mekong Initiative (LMI). The U.S. Department of State says the Partnership will expand on the success of the LMI “by strengthening the autonomy, economic independence, and sustainable development of the Mekong partner countries and promote a transparent, rules-based approach to transboundary challenges.” The new Partnership comes with an initial pledge of more than $150 million of U.S. funded programming to support COVID-19 recovery, counter transnational crimes, develop efficient energy markets, and counter trafficking in persons. A revitalization and upscaling of U.S. engagement in the Mekong is long overdue, particularly given China’s increasing engagement in the region and the economic challenges that Mekong countries will struggle with as a result of the coronavirus pandemic and chronic drought conditions. While the Partnership is still in its formative stages, there are several actions that would go a long way towards bolstering its effectiveness.
  • Topic: International Relations, Development, Partnerships, ASEAN
  • Political Geography: Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand, Southeast Asia, Laos, Myanmar, United States of America, Mekong River