The United States House of Representatives has passed the Partner with Asean Act – which would authorise Asean to be designated as an international organisation with diplomatic privileges and immunities.
This would put the regional bloc on a par with the European Union and the African Union.
The US typically extends automatic privileges and immunities to international organisations to which it belongs, but a special act of Congress is needed to extend recognition to those with which it is not a member – in this case, Asean.
“Today’s swift passage of the PARTNER with ASEAN Act demonstrates the deep bipartisan commitment to a strong U.S.-ASEAN relationship,” said Congressman Joaquin Castro. “The United States was the first non-ASEAN nation to appoint an Ambassador to ASEAN, and Congress has long recognized ASEAN’s role in Indo-Pacific stability and prosperity. Providing routine diplomatic privileges and immunities to ASEAN is an important step to underscore our recognition of ASEAN centrality and explore new areas of cooperation. I thank Chair Kim for her partnership on this bill and look forward to working with the Senate to move our legislation to President Biden’s desk.”
“Ensuring a free and open Indo-Pacific, especially as we see economic and security threats posed by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) in the region and the Belt and Road Initiative, requires the United States to bolster relations with Southeast Asian countries. Without meaningful engagement, we leave the region little choice but to turn to the CCP,” said Congresswoman Young Kim. “I thank my colleagues for supporting the PARTNER with ASEAN Act and Rep. Castro for partnering with me on this bipartisan effort. As Indo-Pacific Subcommittee Chair, I will keep working to promote U.S. leadership in the region, strengthen relationships with our Indo-Pacific partners and ensure freedom and sovereignty prevail on the world stage.”