Romney, Van Hollen Introduce Legislation to Create U.S.-ASEAN Center, Boost U.S. Ties with Southeast Asia

WASHINGTON—U.S. Senators Mitt Romney (R-UT) and Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Ranking Member and Chairman of the Foreign Relations Subcommittee on East Asia, the Pacific, and International Cybersecurity Policy respectively, introduced legislation to bolsterthe United States’ economic and cultural engagement with Southeast Asian countries amid the U.S.-Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit, being held today during the 43rd ASEAN Summit this week in Jakarta, Indonesia. This bill enables the U.S. Department of State to establish a U.S.-ASEAN Center through a public-private partnership to focus on strengthening trade, investment, and people-to-people relationships between the U.S. and ASEAN countries.

“The U.S. must be present in Southeast Asia in order to effectively compete with China—and this means we must be working with our ASEAN partners to promote a free, open, and resilient Indo-Pacific region,” said Senator Romney. “I’m proud to partner with Senator Van Hollen on legislation to establish a U.S.-ASEAN Center through a public-private partnership to strengthen the United States’ relationship with our friends in Southeast Asia.”

“A strong relationship between the United States and our ASEAN partners is central to advancing our shared goals of ensuring a free and open Indo-Pacific region, growing our economies, strengthening our mutual security, respecting sovereignty, and fighting the climate crisis. A U.S.-ASEAN Center will help bring our nations and our peoples closer together as we address these issues and more,” said Senator Van Hollen.

Under this legislation, the U.S.-ASEAN Center is 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; and
  • 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.

Bill text can be viewed here.