Australia, ASEAN agree to elevate ties to comprehensive strategic partnership

BYYasir Rehman


Leaders of Australia and ASEAN member states Wednesday agreed to establish comprehensive strategic partnership during their historic first annual ASEAN-Australia Leaders’ Summit as Australia supports a peaceful, stable, resilient, and prosperous region, with ASEAN at its heart.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison affirmed that Australia attaches importance to cooperation with ASEAN, supports ASEAN centrality in the regional architecture as well the ASEAN Outlook on the Indo-Pacific (AOIP).

“Australia is committed to effectively engaging in dialogue and cooperation mechanisms led by ASEAN on the basis of international law, and to foster the rule-based regional order, thus making active contributions to peace, security, stability and development in the region”, he told the ASEAN leaders.

Prime Minister Morrison said Australia has already shared around four million doses of COVID-19 vaccines to ASEAN and plans to provide additional 10 million doses next years.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison

He took the occasion to announce that Australia would create a new initiative whereby it will provide AUD 124 million to fund projects jointly identify by ASEAN and Australia to address complex and emerging challenges.

Morrison reaffirmed Australia’s commitment to support ASEAN centrality, promote peace, stability and security in the region on the basis of the Treaty for Amity and Cooperation in Southeast Asia (TAC) and the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT).

According to Vietnam state run newspaper VGP, ASEAN leaders spoke highly of the positive progress in the ASEAN-Australia relations, affirming that Australia has always been a major economic partner of the bloc, with the two way trade exceeding US$100 billion last years.

The ASEAN member states highly appreciated Australia’s timely support for the bloc’s fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, including its contribution of AUD 1 million to the ASEAN COVID-19 Response Fund and AUD 21 million to the ASEAN Center for Public Health Emergencies and Emerging Diseases (AC-PHEED).

The regional leaders expect that Australia would continue cooperation with ASEAN in such fields like terrorism and transnational crime combat, education, human resource development, environment, climate change adaptation, management of natural disasters, sub-regional development cooperation, and development gap narrowing.

The summit affirmed the importance of maintaining peace and stability in the region, including the East Sea. PM Morrison affirmed support for ASEAN’s position and its role in fostering dialogue and confidence-building, for full and effective implementation of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the East Sea and conclusion of an efficient and effective Code of Conduct in the East Sea in line with international law and the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.

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