November 02, 2023

Castro, Issa Introduce U.S.-ASEAN Center Act to Strengthen Trade, Investment, and Cultural Exchange Between U.S. and ASEAN

WASHINGTON – Today, Congressman Joaquin Castro (TX-20) and Congressman Darrell Issa (CA-48), senior members of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, introduced the U.S.-ASEAN Center Act, bipartisan legislation that would allow the United States to establish a U.S.-ASEAN Center focused on strengthening trade, investment, and people-to-people relationships between the United States and member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

In September, the leaders of ASEAN and the United States announced their intent to establish a U.S.-ASEAN Center in Washington D.C. The bill introduced today would provide official authorization to move forward with establishing that center. Senators Chris Van Hollen (MD) and Mitt Romney (UT) have introduced a version of the U.S.-ASEAN Center Act in the Senate.

“For decades, U.S. lawmakers from both political parties have recognized the importance of a strong relationship with ASEAN for Indo-Pacific security and prosperity. As the Biden administration makes historic investments in Southeast Asia, my U.S.-ASEAN Center Act will kickstart new efforts to expand U.S.-ASEAN cooperation and deepen trade and trust between our regions. I thank Rep. Issa for his co-sponsorship of this bill and look forward to working with Senator Van Hollen and Senator Romney to pass the U.S-ASEAN Center Act this year,” said Congressman Castro.

“As a block of key trading partners, security relationships, and emerging markets, ASEAN is fundamentally important to America’s national interest – and at a critical juncture in our vital competition with China,” said Congressman Issa. “A US-ASEAN Center is a meaningful measure of our relationship with ASEAN and its member states, I’m proud to help lead this legislation, and look forward to seeing the difference we know it can make in the future. I want to thank my colleague, Congressman Castro, for working with me in a bipartisan manner to strengthen and advance this important effort.”

Under this legislation, the U.S.-ASEAN Center would be authorized to:

  • Provide grants to universities or non-governmental institutions for research to support and elevate the importance of the U.S.-ASEAN partnership.
  • Facilitate activities to strengthen U.S.-ASEAN trade and investment.
  • Expand economic and technological relationships between ASEAN countries and the United States into new areas of cooperation.
  • Provide training to United States citizens and citizens of ASEAN countries that improve people-to-people ties.
  • Develop educational programs to increase awareness for the United States and ASEAN countries on the importance of relations between the United States and ASEAN countries.

For the full bill text of the U.S.-ASEAN Center Act, click here.