Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN)
Why ASEAN matters: our mutual cooperation
We work together to improve the region we live in.
Australia's bilateral engagement with the countries of Southeast Asia is strengthened by our engagement with ASEAN, the region's premier representative grouping. Government to government links between Australia and ASEAN are strong and reflect close to half a century of cooperation.
Australia became the first of ASEAN's ten dialogue partners in 1974. Since October 2013, Australia has a resident ambassador accredited to the ASEAN Secretariat in Jakarta.
At the 40th Anniversary Commemorative Summit in Myanmar in November 2014, Australia and ASEAN entered into a Strategic Partnership [PDF], in recognition of the depth and breadth of Australia-ASEAN cooperation.
In 2015, Australia and ASEAN agreed to commence biennial leaders' summits. The first was held in Vientiane in November 2016, the second in Sydney in March 2018, and the third virtually in November 2020.
The ASEAN-Australia Special Summit in Sydney in March 2018 took our partnership to an even deeper level and underlined our commitment to intensify shared work to shape a secure and prosperous region.
Initiatives arising from the Special Summit cover counter-terrorism; counter trafficking in persons; cyber security and digital trade; defence; maritime; economic; urbanisation and infrastructure; connectivity; education; health; and women, peace and security. Read the Sydney Declaration (Special Summit Leaders' Declaration).
In November 2020, Australia and ASEAN agreed to upgrade the tempo of our leaders’ meetings to annual summits, marking a new chapter in our Strategic Partnership.
In addition, each year, Australia's Foreign Minister joins with ASEAN Foreign Ministers for formal consultations in what is known as the Post-Ministerial Conference. Australia's Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment also engages regularly with ASEAN counterparts to advance regional economic cooperation through the East Asia Summit Economic Ministers' Meetings. This frequent Ministerial engagement helps advance a range of mutual interests between ASEAN and Australia and is supported by extensive officials-level engagement.