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Representatives Wagner & Castro Introduce Southeast Asia Strategy Act

Sep 18, 2018
Press Release

Washington, D.C. – Congresswoman Ann Wagner (MO-02) and Congressman Joaquin Castro (TX-20), co-chairs and co-founders of the Congressional Caucus on the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), introduced the Southeast Asia Strategy Act to enhance U.S. engagement in Southeast Asia and assure critical partners in the region of the United States’ strong support.

“To date, the U.S. has never articulated a comprehensive strategy for the Southeast Asian region,” said Congresswoman Wagner. “The Southeast Asia Strategy Act does just that by developing a coherent and clearly communicated regional strategy that addresses all aspects of our critical relationship with Southeast Asia and ASEAN. Congress is working with the Administration to communicate to our friends that the U.S. has their backs as they expand trade and development, secure their borders, strengthen human rights, and defend against Chinese aggression.”

“It’s been over 40 years since the United States and ASEAN established direct diplomatic relations, marking our shared goals of strengthened security, economic gain, and universal human rights,” said Congressman Castro. “I’m pleased to join my fellow ASEAN Caucus co-chair Ann Wagner on the Southeast Asia Strategy Act, which lays out principles of our engagement in the region and with ASEAN, including a commitment to cooperation on democracy, human rights, economic connectivity and security, and requires a multi-year strategy from our State Department. It’s critical the United States continues to invest in this strategic relationship and expand our engagement within the Indo-Pacific, and this legislation helps achieve just that.”



The Southeast Asia Strategy Act would deepen U.S. engagement with Southeast Asian partners by instructing the U.S. Administration to develop a coherent and clearly communicated regional strategy that addresses all aspects of the relationship, from trade and humanitarian goals to diplomatic and security arrangements. This bill would:

  • State that it is the policy of the United States to coordinate closely with ASEAN and its member states in the interest of promoting peace, security, and stability in the Indo-Pacific region; and affirm the importance of ASEAN centrality.
  • Direct the Secretary of State, in consultation with the Secretary of Commerce and the Secretary of Defense, to develop and communicate a comprehensive strategy for engagement with Southeast Asia and ASEAN, including information on alliances and partnerships, trade, investment, development and human rights initiatives, security cooperation, energy security, and capacity building on enforcing international law and sanctions and creating more open, reliable routes for trade. The strategy would also include an assessment of funding that has been and will be expended by relevant Federal departments and agencies on the implementation of initiatives highlighted in the strategy.
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