Romney, Colleagues Introduce Bipartisan Legislation to Strengthen U.S.-ASEAN Relations

WASHINGTON—U.S. Senator Mitt Romney (R-UT) today joined Senators Bob Menendez (D-NJ) and Jim Risch (R-ID), Chairman and Ranking Member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) in introducing the Providing Appropriate Recognition and Treatment Needed to Enhance Relations (PARTNER) with ASEAN Act, bipartisan legislation to strengthen relations between the United States and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). By authorizing ASEAN’s formal designation as an international organization with diplomatic privileges and immunitiesthe PARTNER with ASEAN Act would afford ASEAN secretariat personnel the same treatment in the United States as diplomats associated with other multilateral missions, paving the way for the creation of a permanent ASEAN U.S. mission.

“In order to compete with China, the U.S. must be present in Southeast Asia—which means working with our ASEAN partners to continue promoting a free, open, and resilient Indo-Pacific region,” said Senator Romney. “I’m proud to join my colleagues in introducing this legislation, which reaffirms the United States’ commitment to our friends in Southeast Asia through ASEAN.”

“The United States’ close relationship with ASEAN is core to our Indo-Pacific policy and has not only proven critical to our nations’ mutual prosperity and growing global influence, but to our collective efforts to promote a free, open, and peaceful Indo-Pacific,” Chairman Menendez said. “With today’s introduction, we signal our enduring commitment to build upon this important relationship, and affirm the United States’ strong, reliable, and engaged presence in one of the most dynamic regions of the world. I look forward to working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to secure our legislation’s ultimate passage, and to bolster U.S. cooperation with Southeast Asian partners as we confront today’s global challenges.”

“As countries like China increasingly engage in predatory economic behavior, the United States must put greater focus on Southeast Asia, especially through trade, investment, and other economic engagement,” said Ranking Member Risch. “This legislation is a win for deepening U.S. ties with our ASEAN partners. The Biden Administration should use the opportunities this bill creates to expand our commercial and economic linkages with these important partners.”

“The United States and ASEAN have long benefitted from working together diplomatically, economically, culturally and more,” said Senator Duckworth. “With this bipartisan legislation, we’re reaffirming and strengthening this longstanding partnership while also providing the organization with the appropriate diplomatic immunities they deserve as we work together to ensure the Indo-Pacific region is as strong as it can be.”

A copy of the bill can be found here.