December 07, 2022

House Foreign Affairs Committee Advances Rep. Castro’s PARTNER with ASEAN Act

WASHINGTON – Today, the House Foreign Affairs Committee advanced the bipartisan Providing Appropriate Recognition and Treatment Needed to Enhance Relations (PARTNER) with ASEAN Act, legislation introduced by Reps. Joaquin Castro (TX-20) and Steve Chabot (OH-01) that would strengthen relations between the United States and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) by authorizing ASEAN to be designated as an international organization with diplomatic privileges and immunities consistent with the International Organization Immunities Act (IOIA). The IOIA, enacted in 1945, is how the United States provides international organizations with the rights and treatment generally accorded to embassies of countries that have diplomatic relations with the United States.

“Despite the longstanding, bipartisan U.S. consensus on ASEAN’s vital role in the Indo-Pacific, the United States has yet to accord ASEAN the routine diplomatic privileges and immunities it deserves,” said Congressman Castro. “My PARTNER with ASEAN Act would send an important message about U.S. respect for ASEAN centrality and would open the door to a more productive and efficient relationship between the U.S. and ASEAN nations. As co-chair of the ASEAN Caucus, I’m glad to see the House Foreign Affairs Committee advance this important legislation, and I urge Congress to heed President Biden’s call to send the PARTNER with ASEAN Act to his desk for signature.”

During the November 2022 U.S.-ASEAN Summit, the White House released a fact sheet on the U.S.-ASEAN Comprehensive Strategic Partnership that called for the passage of the PARTNER with ASEAN Act. To view the full fact sheet, click here.

Rep. Castro, chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on International Development, International Organizations, and Global Corporate Social Impact, has introduced several pieces of legislation in recent years to strengthen the relationship between the United States and ASEAN nations, including:

  • H. Res. 1106, expressing congressional support for the U.S.-ASEAN Special Summit in May 2022 and for upgrading the U.S.-ASEAN relationship to a “comprehensive strategic partnership.”
  • The Young Southeast Asian Leaders Initiative (YSEALI) Act, which would promote people-to-people exchanges between the United States and Southeast Asia and establish the existing YSEALI program in law. (Advanced from the House Foreign Affairs Committee in September 2022)
  • The Southeast Asia Strategy Act, which directs the Department of State to submit to Congress a strategy for engagement with Southeast Asia and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Sponsored by Rep. Ann Wagner)
  • H.Res.311, recognizing the 50th anniversary of the establishment of ASEAN and expressing Congressional support for the 40 years of U.S.-ASEAN relations and the shared pursuit of economic growth and regional security in Southeast Asia. (Passed in September 2017)