Investing in our Southeast Asian partnerships

Media release
14 Nov 2020
Prime Minister

I met with regional counterparts virtually today for the ASEAN-Australia Summit. Australia’s vision of the Indo-Pacific region has ASEAN at its centre. 

Australia was ASEAN’s first Dialogue Partner. I welcome ASEAN’s agreement to annual leaders’ summits with Australia, building on the 2018 ASEAN-Australia Special Summit in Sydney and marking a new chapter in our Strategic Partnership. 

COVID-19 has changed much but Australia’s commitment to ASEAN remains steadfast. Australia and ASEAN share a vision for a peaceful, inclusive, sovereign and resilient region. 

ASEAN is more important than ever as we collectively deal with the health and economic challenges brought on by COVID-19. 

Australia will invest in a new package of economic, development and security measures to support the region’s recovery from COVID-19. 

We will invest $21 million for the ASEAN Centre for Public Health Emergencies and Emerging Diseases, as part of Australia’s commitment of an additional $500 million over three years to support access to safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines for the Pacific and Southeast Asia, plus a further $24 million towards the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. 

We will provide $232 million to support economic integration and development in the Mekong. 

This includes scholarships for emerging leaders, strengthening of cyber and critical technology capabilities, and support for the implementation of the Vietnam Enhanced Economic Engagement Strategy. Australia will also open a liaison office in Myanmar’s capital, Nay Pyi Taw.

We will invest a further $104 million towards the region’s emerging security needs, including in military education, infectious diseases, cyber resilience, maritime security and English language training. 

We will expand our Defence Adviser and Defence Attaché network to cover all ASEAN countries and fund Australia’s defence industry to work with regional partners on peacekeeping. 

ASEAN’s economic recovery will be supported with $70 million for high quality infrastructure development and technical assistance, plus $65 million for regional maritime states to develop their marine resources sustainably and address challenges through enhanced training, technical advice and cooperation. 

We will invest $13 million to help partners work with technology standards-setting bodies to get their economies geared for the future.

Supporting open, rules-based trade is vital as the world emerges from the pandemic recession. 

We will provide $46 million for eligible ASEAN countries for technical assistance and capacity building to help implement the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership and the ASEAN-Australia and New Zealand Free Trade Agreement.

Australia and ASEAN are partners in the challenges we face, with Southeast Asia’s economic and health recovery critical to our own.