Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN)

40th anniversary of ASEAN-Australia relations: 2014

2014 marks the 40th anniversary of Australia's dialogue partnership with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). Australia's relationship with ASEAN (formed in 1967) was formalised in April 1974 when representatives of the then ASEAN member countries and a delegation of Australian officials agreed to meet on a regular basis to discuss political, economic and functional cooperation.

Today Australia has a deep relationship with ASEAN covering cooperation and engagement in a range of areas including security, culture, trade, education and development. Australia appointed a resident Ambassador to ASEAN in September 2013.

The 40th anniversary of relations is an important opportunity for Australia and ASEAN to chart a new strategic direction to our partnership, complementing ASEAN's focus on strengthening regional integration through the ASEAN Community and development of the East Asia Summit (EAS).

To commemorate the 40th anniversary, a program of events will take place during the year in Australia and South-East Asia in collaboration with ASEAN and with the support of the government and the non-government sectors. The 40th anniversary will culminate in an ASEAN-Australia leaders' summit at the EAS in Nai Pyi Taw.

40th anniversary Australia-ASEAN
Julie Bishop with ASEAN Ambassadors
Minister for Foreign Affairs, the Hon Julie Bishop MP met ASEAN Ambassadors in Canberra on 4 December 2013.

Background

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.

Statistics

ASEAN economic fact sheet [PDF 35 KB]

ASEAN Meetings

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 http://www.asean.org

ASEAN Structure

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 2014 is Myanmar, to be followed by Malaysia in 2015 and Laos in 2016.

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. Le Luong Minh, former Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs of Vietnam, assumed the post of Secretary-General of ASEAN in January 2013.

Established by the ASEAN Charter, the Jakarta-based ASEAN Committee for Permanent Representatives (CPR) is tasked to engage Dialogue Partners.

Australia's Relationship with ASEAN

Australia engages regularly with ASEAN leaders, ministers and officials and participates in ASEAN-centred groupings such as the EAS and ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF).

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 covering political and security, economic, socio-cultural and development cooperation. A revised Plan of Action was adopted at the ASEAN-Australia Ministerial Meeting on 10 August 2014 replacing the initial Plan of Action.

The ASEAN-Australia-New Zealand FTA (AANZFTA) entered into force on 1 January 2010. Australia is also engaged with ASEAN on Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) negotiations.

Australia's development cooperation partnership with ASEAN has been a key feature of our relationship since 1974. Vital elements of this partnership include the ASEAN-Australia Development Cooperation Program – Phase Two (AADCPII). Further information on Australia's development assistance to the region can be found in Australian Aid.

ASEAN-Australia documents and links