ASEAN and Australia are looking to strengthening their trade activities and arrangements with the ASEAN 2021 Chairman affirming negotiations to upgrade the ASEAN-Australia-New Zealand Free Trade Agreement were progressing well.
Prime Minister of Australia Scott Morrison at the inaugural ASEAN-Australia Summit pledged its commitment and support for the four priority areas; maritime cooperation, connectivity, sustainable development and the economy, in line with the ASEAN Outlook for the Indo-Pacific.
He also announced the Australian Asia Futures Initiative to drive cooperation, support implementation of the ASEAN Outlook in the Indo-Pacific and deepen their investment in the region’s future.
“Australia will provide $124 million to fund projects jointly identified by Associated Australia took the risk to address complex and emerging challenges like COVID 19 recovery, terrorism, transnational crime, energy security and transition to low emissions technology, the circular economy and of course, out of the Oceans,” added the prime minister.
Australia’s inaugural summit with ASEAN that took place virtually on Tuesday marked a new chapter in the bloc’s relations with the country as ASEAN’s first Dialogue Partner.
Morrison in his remarks at the conference that was chaired by His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam, said that both parties’ annual summits will allow them to deepen their strong ties further guiding them through an area of profound change in the Indo-Pacific.
A comprehensive Strategic Partnership between ASEAN and Australia that is meaningful, substantive and mutually beneficial was also agreed to be established during the Summit.
ASEAN Leaders had also expressed their appreciation for Australia’s initiative for further cooperation in the area of public health and the enhancement of vaccine security within the region as following the pandemic, there is a need for the implementation of relevant action plans and constructive engagements.
Moreover, ASEAN state members are also encouraging increased cooperation in key areas such as the digital economy, cyber security, smart cities whilst also promoting the role of women in socio-economic developments.
His Majesty the Sultan also recognised that the COVID-19 pandemic has greatly affected the people in the region such as livelihoods, lifestyle and mental health.
Australia has been strong support in working with Brunei and Malaysia in bringing the mental health agenda into the ASEAN region.
“I look forward to capacity building initiatives and the sharing of expertise and experience amongst officials and the youth in addressing this,” said the monarch.
He added: “We continue to face regional and global economic uncertainties while recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic, and one way to overcome these challenges is by upholding the rules-based, open and inclusive multilateral trading system.”
– Nurhana Diah
THE BRUNEIAN | BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN