On Friday, February 25, 2011, the World Affairs Council of Charlotte hosted Ambassador David I. Adelman, U.S. Ambassador to Singapore.  The luncheon was sponsored by FedEx Corporation.  The following are key issues addressed during the presentation.

The Potential of the Export Market

For the first time ever, in March of 2010, the United States exported more products and services to China than to Europe.    The driving force of the change is the Association of Southeast Asian Nations’ (ASEAN) buying power of the growing middle class.  One third of the world’s population is located between India and Japan.  Two of the best opportunities to strengthen trade relations with ASEAN are India and Singapore.


India is the world’s largest democracy, established in 1950.  The youth of India’s democracy has yet to define India’s role in the world beyond its borders.  Ambassador Adelman views this youth as an opportunity for the U.S. to step in, build bilateral trade relations and develop a relationship with mutual benefit.


Singapore has been a good friend to the U.S. as military allies and as a center for global business.  Over 20,000 U.S. citizens live and work in Singapore.  Ambassador Adelman recognizes our strong ties with Singapore and how they will open doors with other ASEAN nations.

The United States has experience the worst recession since the Great Depression in the 1930s.  With 95% of the world’s population living outside of the United States, Ambassador Adelman views the U.S. export market as the best way to get the country out of economic instability by doubling the U.S. export market in the next 5 years.

Challenges of ASEAN

Asia is much more fragile than the U.S. is used to.  Europe is much more established in government and global presence. Such issues as North Korea “closed society,” terrorist groups in the Philippines and China’s human rights problems are recognized but have not thwarted the dynamic East Asia system.  Ambassador Adelman assures that the benefits far outweigh the risks.

ASEAN, in N.C.

The opportunities and development of ASEAN can be seen in, here, North Carolina. Ambassador Adelman emphasized North Carolina’s strong position because of business leaders, like those of the World Affairs Council, in Charlotte and in the Research Triangle Park, located in the Raleigh-Durham area.  Charlotte has done a great job diversifying the state as it grows to be more influential in the Southeast.

N.C. has a few figures to improve to get us up to the national level.  North Carolina exports $1 million to ASEAN where the U.S. exports $7 million.  N.C. is the sixth largest trade partner while the U.S. is fourth.  N.C. ranks as the 15th largest trade partner to Singapore whereas the U.S. is tenth.

Giving the potential market, Ambassador Adelman has an optimistic outlook on the relationship between United States and ASEAN and North Carolina’s role in strengthening those relations.

For more information on the WACC Ambassadors Circle Series, visit www.worldaffairscharlotte.org.

Written by Elizabeth Dunbar, UNC Charlotte (International PR major)