Assistant Secretary Daniel Russel Discusses Transatlantic Cooperation on Asia Policy
In this video, Daniel Russel, U.S. assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific affairs explains the importance of transatlantic cooperation on Asia policy.
What is the transatlantic agenda for cooperation in Asia?
Well the starting point for transatlantic cooperation in Asia is the fact that the U.S. is every bit as much an Atlantic country as it is a Pacific country. What we do in one area impacts our interests in any other. But more broadly, there is an overlap in shared interests between Europe and the United States in the Asia Pacific region, which is really a major driver of global economic growth and a huge locus of opportunity for each of us. It’s so important that we can’t afford not to communicate and consult. My presence in Brussels today and the many meetings I’ve had with people in the European Commission and in the EU is testament to the seriousness with which we take cooperation.
What would you say to EU officials who are skeptical of transatlantic cooperation in Asia?
The secret is to look at the practical side. The fact of the matter is that whether the issue is promoting human rights and universal freedoms; whether it’s championing free trade and investment, good commercial rules; growing economies; whether it’s development; whether it’s promoting security; whether it’s helping Asians to develop their own institutions – getting it right in the Asia Pacific region, particularly in light of the transformation underway in economic terms and in demographic terms – getting it right in Asia matters, both to Europe and to the United States.
There are skeptics across the globe on the possibility of cooperation, but I haven’t found skepticism in the interlocutors here in Brussels or in Europe. To the contrary, I’ve found a real commonality of view, a support for the U.S. strategy of rebalancing, an acceptance and appreciation of the fact that the [EU] doesn’t see our investment and engagement in Asia coming at the expense of our Atlantic partnerships, and a willingness to work in practical terms to try to advance our common agendas, whether it’s on the values side, whether it’s on the economics side or whether it’s on the security and economics side.
No one is so skeptical that they doubt that the threat of proliferation, for example, directly affects their interests. No one is so skeptical that they don’t want to see the economic dynamism of the Asia-Pacific region translate into export opportunities and job growth in their own country. I think there’s a strong, optimistic and affirmative view of transatlantic cooperation in the Asia Pacific region, and I think there is an appetite in Asia for a constructive involvement not only from the United States but from Europe as well.
What would the Obama administration like to see from the European Union on Asia policy?
One area where I think Europe may be uniquely positioned to provide help and expertise of real benefit to Asian countries is in the realm of institution building. ASEAN, although it’s just marking its 35th year if not 40th – in other words it’s been around for a long time - ASEAN as an organisation and as an institution is really breaking new ground in expanding its engagement in the political and security realm; in its work to set rules and norms; in promoting humanitarian assistance and disaster relief; working on a range issues. Organizing itself, building up the regional architecture in the institutions that pool resources and interests, that create transnational, supranational elements, formulating a whole that’s greater than the sum of its parts is an ambitious undertaking. The countries in the institutions in the Asia Pacific region still have a long way to go. Obviously they and their neighbors and friends – we in the United States are active in that endeavor – but it’s hard to find a region with more practical experience and a better record of success than Europe. I think it’s to everybody’s interest that know-how and hard-won experience be put fully at the disposal of the Asians.