Australia-ASEAN Leaders' Summit and East Asia Summit

Media statement
27 Oct 2021
Prime Minister, Minister for Foreign Affairs, Minister for Women

Australia and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) are enhancing our relationship. 

At the historic first annual ASEAN-Australia Leaders’ Summit today, ASEAN leaders agreed to establish a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership between ASEAN and Australia. This milestone underscores Australia’s commitment to ASEAN’s central role in the Indo-Pacific and positions our partnership for the future.

Australia supports a peaceful, stable, resilient, and prosperous region, with ASEAN at its heart.

A strong, united, and resilient ASEAN is vital to our region’s success and supports Australia’s own security and prosperity.

To mark this new chapter, Australia will invest $154 million into our cooperation with ASEAN through:

  • a new Australia for ASEAN Futures Initiative, which will provide $124 million to support projects that address complex challenges including health security, terrorism and transnational crime, energy security, promoting the circular economy and healthy oceans, and support implementation of the ASEAN Outlook on the Indo-Pacific (AOIP);
  • one hundred Australia for ASEAN Scholarships to support emerging ASEAN leaders to study in Australia in fields that advance the AOIP under its priority areas of cooperation – maritime, connectivity, economic, and sustainable development cooperation; and
  • an Australia for ASEAN Digital Transformation and Futures Skills initiative to support
    long-term economic recovery through 350 Vocational Education and Training (VET) scholarships, technical assistance partnerships between Australian and ASEAN training institutions, and new skills policy dialogue.

These investments represent the largest ever increase in Australia’s development cooperation program with ASEAN. It builds on the $500 million package previously announced, consistent with the four key areas of the ASEAN Outlook on the Indo-Pacific, and our ongoing bilateral development partnerships with ASEAN Members. 

Australia is ASEAN’s oldest dialogue partner and the Prime Minister discussed our deepening cooperation on health, economic and security priorities in the region, as well as the shared challenge of climate change and Australia’s target of net zero emissions by 2050.

Technology advancements that support countries to grow jobs and their economies while cutting emissions will be central to the work Australia and ASEAN nations will do to tackle climate change as Comprehensive Strategic Partners.

The new Partnership builds on the steps announced by Foreign Minister Payne on 7 August 2021 to strengthen the Australia-ASEAN partnership, including a new package of initiatives under Partnerships for Recovery to meet the health security, economic and stability challenges in our region, including COVID-19.

Today the Prime Minister was also pleased to underscore Australia’s commitment to provide the Indo-Pacific region with at least 60 million COVID-19 vaccine doses by the end of 2022. From late 2021 to mid-2022, we will share at least 10 million doses from our domestic supply with ASEAN countries. This builds on the almost four million doses we have already delivered, and is in addition to more than 20 million vaccines we are procuring for our partners in Southeast Asia through UNICEF, including as a part of our $100 million investment in the Quad Vaccine Partnership. We are also ensuring critical delivery support across Southeast Asia, to get vaccines to those who need them most.

With vaccination levels in Australia continuing to rise, we will be reopening to the world in coming days and we are continuing our work with our friends in Southeast Asia to establish new COVID‑safe travel arrangements, so our communities can reunite in person.

In addition to today’s Summit, tonight’s East Asia Summit is the Indo-Pacific’s key leader-led forum to discuss our region’s most pressing strategic challenges. At the Summit, the Prime Minister will outline Australia’s priorities in the Indo‑Pacific, and our ideas to foster a peaceful, resilient and secure region.

On Monday this week, the Prime Minister also addressed the ASEAN Business and Investment Summit virtually. As a bloc, ASEAN represents Australia’s second largest trading partner. Building on this relationship will be central to our shared recovery, including through our growing network of trade agreements such as the ASEAN-Australia New Zealand Free Trade Area and the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership.

Australia congratulates Brunei for its leadership as ASEAN Chair during a very challenging year, and thanks His Majesty as host.