I was delighted to join my ASEAN counterparts at an ASEAN-Australia Summit this morning.
Australia is proud to be ASEAN’s longest-standing dialogue partner. Our vision of the Indo-Pacific has ASEAN at its centre, and we share a vital interest in the stability and prosperity of this shared region. Our relationship reached a new high this year with the convening of the ASEAN-Australia Special Summit in Sydney in March.
I was pleased to engage with my ASEAN counterparts on a number of new cooperative initiatives.
Australia has committed to a Southeast Asia Economic Governance and Infrastructure Initiative that will help unlock our region’s next phase of economic growth. Through this initiative, Australia will provide countries with technical advice to support economic growth, such as taxation and competition policy and debt management. It will also support infrastructure project selection and preparation and help governments to mobilise finance. This investment will provide ASEAN countries with access to public and private-sector specialists and support regional dialogue on economic and infrastructure issues.
A new five-year phase of the Greater Mekong Water Resources Program will support more equitable, transparent and effective water resource management. This investment will help make available Australia’s internationally recognised expertise on an issue at the heart of the region’s economic development and stability.
Australia will also step up its engagement on maritime issues in Southeast Asia, building on our long history of maritime support across the Indo-Pacific. This will deepen Australia’s investment in maritime cooperation, focusing on regional civil maritime organisations, maritime domain awareness, illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing, and support for a rules-based maritime order.
Australia and ASEAN mark 45 years of diplomatic relations in 2019. The Government’s public diplomacy program Australia now will build understanding of Australia across the region. With a focus on youth, it will showcase our country as an education and tourism destination and an innovative and creative partner for economic collaboration. Activities will take place across all ten ASEAN countries.