Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN)
Established in 1967, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) aims to accelerate economic growth, social progress and cultural development in the region and to promote regional peace and stability through the rule of law and adherence to the principles of the United Nations Charter. The ASEAN Charter, which entered into force on 15 December 2008, provides a legal and institutional framework to support the realisation of ASEAN's objectives, including regional integration.
ASEAN comprises ten countries: Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.
ASEAN has ten Dialogue Partners: Australia, Canada, China, EU, India, Japan, New Zealand, ROK, Russia and the United States. The United Nations Development Program (UNDP) also has dialogue status. Australia became ASEAN's first Dialogue Partner in 1974.
ASEAN holds biennial Head of State/Government-level Summits.
ASEAN holds regular ministerial and senior officials’ meetings across a number of portfolios throughout the year. The main meetings involving the foreign ministers of ASEAN and its dialogue partners, including Australia, are the Post Ministerial Conferences (PMC), normally held in July, followed by the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF). The focal point of the year for economic ministers is the ASEAN Economic Ministers’ Meetings (AEM), normally held in August. The AEM is attended by Economic Ministers of ASEAN and a number of dialogue partners, including Australia.
ASEAN documents, statements and meeting schedules can be viewed at www.aseansec.org
The Chair of ASEAN is rotated among the ASEAN countries on an annual basis, and acts as host of the Summit and key ministerial meetings. The Chair of ASEAN for 2012 is Cambodia, to be followed by Brunei in 2013.
The ASEAN Secretariat, based in Jakarta, Indonesia, coordinates, initiates and implements ASEAN activities. The Secretariat is headed by the Secretary-General of ASEAN, who is appointed for a five-year term and accorded ministerial status. Dr Surin Pitsuwan, former Minister of Foreign Affairs of Thailand, assumed the post of Secretary-General of ASEAN on 7 January 2008.
ASEAN has several specialised bodies to implement inter-governmental cooperation in various fields, such as the ASEAN Agricultural Development Planning Centre and the ASEAN Centre for Energy. In addition, ASEAN promotes dialogue and consultations with professional and business organisations, such as the ASEAN-Chambers of Commerce and Industry and the ASEAN Business Forum. A number of non-governmental organisations (NGOs) have formal affiliations with ASEAN.
Australia's Relationship with ASEAN
As its first Dialogue Partner, Australia has a longstanding and deep relationship with ASEAN, covering cooperation in a range of areas including security, culture, trade, education and development. In 2007, Australia and ASEAN signed the Joint Declaration on the ASEAN-Australia Comprehensive Partnership. The Plan of Action to implement the Comprehensive Partnership provides a framework for engagement from 2008-2013, covering political and security, economic, socio-cultural and development cooperation.
On 30 October 2010 in Hanoi, Vietnam, the Prime Minister co-chaired the ASEAN-Australia Summit with her Vietnamese counterpart. This Leaders-level Summit was a landmark meeting in ASEAN-Australia relations, providing an opportunity for Leaders to reflect on significant achievements since Australia became ASEAN's first Dialogue Partner in 1974. The Summit was also an opportunity for the Prime Minister to announce new Australian funding and support to ASEAN in three important areas:
- Australia is investing A$132 million in infrastructure connectivity related initiatives in the Greater Mekong Subregion, in cooperation with the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank
- Australia will contribute A$10 million over four years to the Tripartite Action to Protect Migrants within and from the Greater Mekong Subregion from Labour Exploitation (TRIANGLE) initiative in cooperation with the International Labour Organisation
- Supported by Australian funding, the Australian Human Rights Commission will build linkages with the ASEAN Intergovernmental Human Rights Commission.
The Leaders of Australia and ASEAN member states have previously met at the ASEAN-Australia-New Zealand Commemorative Summit in 2004 in Vientiane, Lao PDR, and at the ASEAN-Australia meeting in 1977 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Links to the Statements for these meetings are attached below.
ASEAN and Australia also hold regular ministerial and senior officials' meetings. Along with Australia's participation in annual ASEAN meetings with Dialogue Partners, the ASEAN-Australia Forum is held every 18 months to two years. The 24th, and most recent, ASEAN-Australia Forum was held in Canberra on 5-6 September 2011. The Co-Chairs' Statement from the 24th Forum is attached below. The next forum is due to take place in the Philippines in November 2012.
Australia, New Zealand and ASEAN Ministers signed the ASEAN-Australia-New Zealand Free Trade Agreement (AANZFTA) on 27 February 2009, which subsequently entered into force on 1 January 2010. Covering over 634 million people and with a combined GDP of A$3.5 trillion, AANZFTA is the largest Free Trade Agreement (FTA) Australia has entered into, and is the most comprehensive FTA that ASEAN has signed. In 2011, two-way trade in goods and services with ASEAN totalled $88,4billion and accounted for 14.5 per cent of Australia's total trade.
Education services are Australia's largest services export to ASEAN. Australia is a leading provider of on-shore and off-shore education services to the region, with approximately 104,000 students from ASEAN countries studying at Australian educational institutions in 2011. Australia awarded 1284 scholarships to citizens of ASEAN countries in 2011 under the Australia Awards. Academic and institutional links between Australia and ASEAN continue to strengthen, with many Australian universities setting up offshore campuses. Our people-to-people links are also strong, with high-levels of tourism and travel between Australia and ASEAN countries and dynamic cultural relations.
Australia's development cooperation partnership with ASEAN has been a key feature of our relationship since 1974. Australia has committed A$1.16 billion in development assistance to ASEAN countries for 2012-13. One vital element of this partnership is the ASEAN-Australia Development Cooperation Program (AADCP). Phase II of AADCP, signed in 2009, is an A$67 million program designed to help ASEAN realise its goal of an economic community by 2015. Further information on Australia's development assistance to the region can be found on the AusAID website.
Australia is also a co-sponsor of the Regional Interfaith Dialogue, together with Indonesia, the Philippines and New Zealand. In addition to the co-sponsoring countries, the eight remaining ASEAN countries also participate in the Dialogue, as well as Timor-Leste, Papua New Guinea and Fiji. The Dialogue has been held on five occasions, most recently in Perth in October 2009. The theme of the Perth Dialogue was "Future Faith Leaders: Regional Challenges and Co-operation". The Perth Dialogue followed on from a positive history of regional Dialogues: the Yogyakarta Dialogue on Interfaith Cooperation (December 2004), the Cebu Dialogue on Regional Cooperation for Peace, Development and Human Dignity (March 2006), the Waitangi Dialogue on Building Bridges (May 2007) and the Phnom Penh Dialogue on Interfaith Cooperation for Peace and Harmony (April 2008). The sixth Dialogue, "Strengthening Collaborative Communities to Promote Regional Peace and Security" was held in Semarang, Indonesia in mid-March 2012.
The Plan of Action from the sixth Dialogue is available here:
As an outcome from the sixth Dialogue, the Indonesian government sponsored a scholarship program for future faith leaders to study Indonesian arts and culture. Two young Australians participated in the program from 24 May to 8 July 2012.
The Declarations from each of the five previous Dialogues are available here:
- Yogyakarta Declaration
- Cebu Declaration
- Waitangi Declaration
- Phnom Penh Declaration
- Perth Declaration
One of the recommendations from the Perth Declaration included the establishment of an interfaith website and online forum for participants in the Regional Interfaith Dialogue and others in the region interested in interfaith issues. The Australian Government has provided some financial support to a consortium of Australian community organisations to develop the Regional Interfaith Network, which was launched in March 2011.
ASEAN-Australia documents and links
- The 17th AEM-CER Consultations - Joint Media Statement. 31 August 2012, Siem Reap, Cambodia.
- ASEAN Post Ministerial Conferences (PMC) +1 Sessions – ASEAN Chairman's Statement. 11 July 2012, Phnom Penh, Cambodia
- 24th ASEAN-Australia Forum - Co-Chairs' Statement. 5-6 September 2011, Canberra.
- The 16th AEM-CER Consultations - Joint media statement. 13 August 2011, Manado, Indonesia
- ASEAN Post Ministerial Conferences (PMC) +1 Sessions - ASEAN Chairman's Statement. 21-22 July 2011, Bali, Indonesia
- ASEAN-Australia Summit 2010 - Joint Statement. 30 October 2010, Hanoi, Vietnam.
- ASEAN Post Ministerial Conferences (PMC) +1 Sessions - ASEAN Chairman's Statement. 22 July 2010, Hanoi, Vietnam
- 23rd ASEAN-Australia Forum – Co-Chairs' Statement. 19 March 2010, Singapore
- ASEAN Post Ministerial Conferences (PMC) +1 Sessions - ASEAN Chairman's Statement. 22 July 2009, Phuket, Thailand
- Media Release - Australia signs historic regional Free Trade Agreement. Minister for Trade Simon Crean, 27 February 2009
- ASEAN-Australia-New Zealand Free Trade Agreement (AANZFTA)
- ASEAN Post Ministerial Conferences (PMC) +1 Sessions - Chairman's Statement. 23 July 2008
- Joint Declaration on the ASEAN-Australia Comprehensive Partnership. 1 August 2007
- Plan of Action to Implement the Joint Declaration on ASEAN-Australia Comprehensive Partnership. 1 August 2007
- ASEAN Post Ministerial Conferences (PMC) +1 Sessions - Chairman's Statement. 1 August 2007
- ASEAN-Australia and New Zealand Commemorative Summit - Chairman's Statement. 30 November 2004, Vientiane, Laos
- ASEAN-Australia and New Zealand Commemorative Summit - Joint Declaration of the Leaders. 30 November 2004, Vientiane, Laos
- Meeting of the ASEAN Heads of Government and the Prime Minister of Australia, 1977 - Joint Press Statement
- ASEAN Treaty of Amity and Cooperation