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FACT SHEET: Vice President Harris Announces New Initiatives to Strengthen U.S.-Thailand Alliance and to Support Mekong Sub-Region

November 18, 2022

Vice President Kamala Harris’s trip to Thailand is strengthening the U.S.-Thailand strategic partnership and alliance for many years to come. The Vice President is expanding our bilateral cooperation on areas such as the climate crisis and economic development by accelerating the clean energy transition, building climate resilience, and promoting sustainable development.

The United States and Thailand reaffirm our shared interest in a prosperous and resilient Southeast Asia. We are pursuing sustainable, climate-focused economic goals via the Partnership for Global Infrastructure and Investment (PGII) and the Bio-Circular-Green Economy model, and we are strengthening our economic ties, including through the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework (IPEF).

In a demonstration of the United States’ enduring commitment to Thailand, the Mekong Region, and Southeast Asia more broadly, the Vice President is launching the following initiatives.

Addressing the Climate Crisis and Accelerating Clean Energy Transition

The United States and Thailand are committed to continuing to play leading roles in addressing the climate crisis as we raise our climate ambitions to reach our net-zero targets and unlock economic growth. Together we are working to reduce emissions and enhance climate adaptation and resilience.

Through IPEF and the Japan-U.S.-Mekong Power Partnership, the United States and Thailand will expand investment opportunities, spur innovation, and improve the livelihood of citizens. The United States will provide technical assistance on carbon capture, utilization and storage to support Thailand’s development of its legal and regulatory framework, as well as attract private investment.

  • Net Zero World Initiative: The United States welcomes Thailand joining the Net Zero World Initiative, a U.S.-led program launched at COP26 to leverage U.S. government expertise, philanthropy, and partner countries to accelerate the transition to net zero emission energy systems. Together, we will promote cooperation in electric vehicles, solar energy and energy efficiency, to help Thailand meet its future energy demands.
  • FIRST Program Partnership: The Vice President is launching a new clean energy partnership with Thailand to build capacity for the secure and safe deployment of advanced nuclear reactor technologies under the U.S. Foundational Infrastructure for Responsible Use of Small Modular Reactor Technology (FIRST) Program. This partnership builds on almost 50 years of U.S.-Thailand civil nuclear cooperation. The FIRST program will work with experts from government, academia, industry, and national laboratories to explore options to advance Thailand’s goal of Net Zero Emissions by 2065 through deployment of small modular reactors (SMRs) under the highest standards of safety, security and nonproliferation. This partnership will help Thailand take advantage of the unique benefits of SMRs that provide 24/7 reliable power, complement other clean energy sources, use a small land footprint, and incorporate advanced safety features. Cooperation under FIRST will also deepen strategic ties, support clean energy innovation, and advance technical collaboration between the two countries.
  • Assisting Agriculture in Climate-Smart Decisions: The United States will provide $22.5 million toward Food for Progress, which will work with the government of Thailand and its farmers to develop a Regional Climate Hub. The Hub will build the capacity of private and public sector partners to understand, promote, and market climate-smart innovations and associated services. The project will reach 30,000 individuals and improve management practices on 24,000 hectares.
  • YSEALI Enviro-Tech Regional Workshop: Our people-to-people ties are exemplified by the over 30,000 Thai alumni that have participated in a U.S. government-funded or facilitated exchanges including the Fulbright program, International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP), the Young Southeast Asian Leaders Initiative (YSEALI), and other U.S. government exchange programs. YSEALI boasts leaders in areas vital to the future of the U.S.-Thai relationship: education, democracy, economic development, and more. To further enhance these ties, the United States will fund the YSEALI Enviro-Tech Regional Workshop, which seeks to train young people on climate change mitigation and adaptation, including the use of emerging technology, such as AI, clean energy, and biotech, to address environmental challenges in the Mekong sub-region.
  • Creating Climate-Smart Infrastructure, Enhancing Environmental Protection, and Securing Supply Chains: The U.S. Trade and Development Agency (USTDA) announced more than $2 million in new commitments to support climate-smart infrastructure, environmental protection, and secure supply chains in Thailand. These new commitments include a grant to Thailand’s Ministry of Transport that will leverage over $2 billion to strengthen Thailand’s transportation and freight logistics capacity. This project will enhance supply chain networks through key domestic and regional transportation corridors and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, furthering Thailand’s transportation infrastructure and climate goals. USTDA also announced support for a plastic recycling facility that will strengthen Thailand’s waste management efforts and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. This project will advance Thailand’s Bio-Circular-Green economic model for inclusive and sustainable growth. These efforts build on USTDA’s ongoing work to partner with the private sector to increase technical support for electric vehicles and battery storage.

Strengthening Bilateral Cooperation and Economic Development: Telecommunications, Global Health, Cybersecurity, and Trafficking in Persons

  • Supporting Enhanced 5G Security: The U.S. Telecommunications Training Institute plans to host a regional workshop in Thailand on connectivity and 5G applications. The workshop will bring international experts to Thailand to advise policy makers on how to deploy next generation information communications technologies efficiently and securely. USTDA will also host a 5G Ecosystem Reverse Trade Mission to familiarize senior Thai officials and business executives with U.S. technologies and use cases for 5G wireless networks with the goal of accelerating Thailand’s 5G rollout.
  • World Class Oncology Center: The U.S. Trade and Development Agency (USTDA) will provide nearly $600,000 to support a new oncology center located in Thailand’s Eastern Economic Corridor within Chonburi Province, Thailand. USTDA will help develop a master planning document for the oncology center buildout, ranging from economic and financial fundamentals to a detailed equipment list and staffing requirements. The project will advance Thailand’s goal of providing access to world-class cancer treatment to hundreds of thousands of people across the Lower Mekong Region.
  • Bolstering the Resilience of Critical Information Networks: The U.S. Department of State will continue to provide capacity building and technical assistance to the National Cybersecurity Agency (NCSA). This assistance will include further support for the National Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT), assistance in developing a Cyber Incident Response Plan, and support for the National Coordination Center. We plan to partner with NCSA to support private sector efforts to develop new sectoral CERTs for key critical infrastructure sectors. These efforts will help Thailand develop a more secure and resilient cyber ecosystem.
  • Supporting Cybersecurity Collaboration with Private Sector Stakeholders: The U.S. Department of State will partner with Thailand’s NCSA to host a table-top exercise bringing together cybersecurity experts, national security policy makers, and business executives to facilitate contingency planning for potential future cybersecurity threats. The exercise will both help identify areas where further investment may be necessary and build bridges between cybersecurity policy makers and business executives from Critical Information Infrastructure sectors.
  • Establishing a Cybercrime Mentoring Program: The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) will establish a 90-day Temporary Duty assignment for Cyber Special Agents to work with the Royal Thai Police’s (RTP) Cyber Crime Investigation Bureau. This will provide mentorship and assessment of cyber investigation capabilities, cybersecurity, and cyber forensic needs.
  • Collaborating to Combat Trafficking in Persons (TIP): The United States and Thailand are committed to eliminating human trafficking. The United States acknowledges the increasing efforts Thailand has made to combat trafficking, resulting in a Tier 2 ranking in the 2022 TIP Report. The United States will continue to work with Thailand to elevate counter-trafficking efforts. Through a grant from the State Department, the International Justice Mission is assisting Thailand’s efforts to protect victims of human trafficking by helping to train frontline officials on implementing Thailand’s human trafficking laws, including those on forced labor.

Supporting the Mekong Region

The United States and Thailand reaffirm our partnership in the Mekong sub-region and agree to deepen our engagement to promote inclusive economic development, entrepreneurship, environmental protection, and non-traditional security.

Supporting Communities in the Mekong

  • Supporting Women Entrepreneurs - (WE) Inspire Program: The United States will provide more than $700,000 to support women entrepreneurs through the WE Inspire program. This program builds financial literacy, business and networking skills of marginalized women living in the Mekong sub-region and facilitates female-owned micro, small, and medium enterprises access to micro-insurance and financial products to help prioritize business and health needs. Working with finance, insurance, and local partners in Mekong countries, WE Inspire will empower women to grow their businesses, enhance their economic stability, and engage in positive health-seeking behavior that will enable them to support their families.
  • Mekong One Health Innovation Program: The United States will provide more than $700,000 to the Mekong One Health Innovation Program, which is designed to foster stronger and sustained relationships between U.S. and Mekong sub-regional researchers, creating a vibrant network to carry out research projects on the human, animal, and environment nexus through the One Health approach. The Mekong One Health Innovation Program assists Mekong sub-regional health experts as they design and lead projects relating to the identification of and response to emerging infectious diseases. After working with U.S. experts to access and operate health tools, Mekong sub-regional researchers and scientists receive funds and mentoring to conduct their own research project.
  • Mekong NextGen Scientists: The United States is committing more than $500,000 to Mekong NextGen Scientists, which promotes sustainable growth and water security across the Lower Mekong River Basin by building capacity and exchanging knowledge with early career professionals. This program focuses on innovative approaches to the complex multilateral challenges faced within the Mekong sub-region by: 1) supporting short-term fellowships for Mekong-region young scientists and early career professionals with ongoing U.S.-funded research; 2) enabling participation in regional events and trainings such as the Mekong Research Symposium; and 3) facilitating attendance and presentations at relevant international meetings and conferences. This program also emphasizes the participation of young women scientists, who often face disproportionate barriers to educational and professional opportunities.
  • Mekong-Mississippi Sister Rivers Partnership: The United States is committing $500,000 to the Mekong-Mississippi Sisters Partnership, which promotes transboundary cooperation through: 1) sharing strategies and examples based on U.S. and international experiences for effective and transparent stakeholder engagement and public participation; 2) building political will to support best practices in river basin management and governance; 3) promoting tools and techniques, for collaboration to reduce conflict over shared water resources; and 4) enhancing capacity in operations and management of cascading dams or dam safety.

Non-Traditional Security Capacity Building

  • Border Management in the Lower Mekong Sub-Region to Address Drugs and Precursor Trafficking: Organized crime groups in Southeast Asia move drugs and precursor chemicals in Southeast Asia, but seizures of controlled chemicals have remained low across the region. The United States is providing $4.5 million to improve capacity in countries in the lower Mekong region, using pre-existing infrastructure laid by United Nations-supported Border Liaison Offices. To ensure a comprehensive and sustainable approach, the project will also engage policymakers to advance regional responsiveness to cross-border trafficking of synthetic drugs.
  • Enhanced Asset Recovery: The United States will help enhance the Thai Anti-Money Laundering Organization’s capabilities to trace, seize, and manage proceeds of crime in response to recommendations in the most recent Financial Action Task Force Mutual Evaluation of Thailand. The United States is committing approximately $1.2 million to provide technical assistance and training to strengthen asset recovery and management to address existing and emerging criminal threats. To ensure a comprehensive and sustainable approach, the project will also engage law enforcement, prosecutors, and the private sector.
  • Partnering with Law Enforcement: The United States will support the Royal Thai Marine Police’s ability to patrol the Mekong River and address related criminal threats through the donation of 12 rigid-hull inflatable boats with engines and trailers.

Kamala Harris, FACT SHEET: Vice President Harris Announces New Initiatives to Strengthen U.S.-Thailand Alliance and to Support Mekong Sub-Region Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/358861

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