Enhancing the ASEAN-Australia partnership

  • Statement
07 August 2021

Australia will enhance our cooperation with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to strengthen our partnership with the region to address the current and future challenges in the Indo-Pacific.

Australia will implement a new package of initiatives under Partnerships for Recovery to meet the health security, economic and stability challenges in our region, including COVID-19.

I am pleased to launch One Health Scholarships for up to 40 students from ASEAN countries to undertake an online Graduate Certificate in One Health, delivered by Murdoch University.

Recognising the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on mental health, Australia will hold the first ASEAN-Australia Mental Health Experts videoconference and a Youth Dialogue to exchange expertise among the region’s policy makers, practitioners and future leaders.

In ASEAN, small and medium enterprises create jobs and drive economic growth. As Australia’s second largest trading partner, as a bloc, our economic recoveries from COVID-19 are closely linked. Australia’s first investment of $5.2 million under our Emerging Markets Impact Investment Fund will provide digital lending and financial services to small and medium enterprises in Southeast Asia.

For over six decades, ASEAN has played a critical role in maintaining stability and cooperation in Southeast Asia.

Australia is gravely concerned about the impact of Myanmar’s COVID-19 crisis, both on the people of Myanmar and the region’s health security. Australia will support international response efforts with additional COVID-19 assistance, including technical experts to the ASEAN Coordinating Centre for Humanitarian Assistance on Disaster Management; provide additional PPE through ASEAN; and an additional $6 million contribution to the UN Office for Project Services to support vulnerable households in Myanmar.

I welcome the appointment of Brunei Foreign Minister II Dato Erywan as the Special Envoy of the ASEAN Chair on Myanmar. Australia urges the full and timely implementation of the Five Points of Consensus agreed at the ASEAN Leaders’ Meeting on 24 April.

Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, we must not lose sight of the importance of working together to contain the threat of terrorism and radicalisation. To enhance our cooperation in this area, ASEAN and Australia have agreed to establish an annual Counter-Terrorism Dialogue.

Australia is committed to ambitious action on climate change in line with the Paris Agreement and is investing in the technologies that will support our industries into the future.

This week, I launched the Australian Science and Technology for Climate Partnerships, a $5.5 million initiative to address climate challenges with research-based solutions in the Indo-Pacific.

This support complements the $500 million package Prime Minister Morrison announced at the 2020 ASEAN-Australia Summit. These investments, along with our broader development program, vaccine access initiative and $1.5 billion loan to Indonesia for budgetary support, comprise Australia’s largest package of support for Southeast Asia since the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami.

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