ASEAN is coming to Australia, marking significant milestone: Australian Ambassador

WVR - At the threshold of Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh’s trip to attend the ASEAN-Australia Special Summit to commemorate the 50th anniversary of ASEAN-Australia dialogue relations, pay official visits to Australia and New Zealand, Australian Ambassador to Vietnam Andrew Goledzinowski shares with the World and Vietnam Report his account on ASEAN-Australia Comprehensive Strategic Partnership as well as Australia-Vietnam dynamic relationship, as follows:
ASEAN is coming to Australia!
ASEAN - Australia Special Summit to celebrate 50 years since Australia became ASEAN’s first Dialogue Partner in 1974 will take place on Melbourne for 4-6, March, 2024. (Source: Twitter)

The leaders of ASEAN Member States and Timor-Leste are descending on Melbourne for a Special Summit to celebrate 50 years since Australia became ASEAN’s first Dialogue Partner in 1974 – an achievement of which we are very proud.

Since ASEAN was founded in 1967 our region has witnessed political changes, dramatic economic transformations and social developments. It is a driver of prosperity that binds our region together, making it a global economic powerhouse and political centre of gravity.

ASEAN is coming to Australia!

Australian Ambassador to Vietnam Andrew Goledzinowski. (Source: VGP)

ASEAN’s enduring strength is in allowing space for dialogue and for the peaceful discussion of differences to enable cooperation, build strategic trust, and guard against conflict. It is a shining example of stability in an unstable world.

The Special Summit, taking place from March 4-6, is a significant milestone in Australia’s shared history with the region. It will showcase Australia’s commitment to deepening engagement with Southeast Asia and ensuring we remain a partner for the future. It is the second time Australia has hosted ASEAN leaders, with the first ASEAN-Australia Special Summit taking place in 2018.

The period between the two Special Summits has been a time of significant development in the bilateral relationship between Australia and Vietnam. In 2018, our Prime Ministers elevated relations to a Strategic Partnership. Only four years later, during the visit of National Assembly Chairman Vuong Dinh Hue to Australia, our two Governments announced the shared intention to elevate relations further to a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership (CSP), reflecting the importance, ambition and promise in our bilateral cooperation.

ASEAN is central to our future and Australia takes its partnership with ASEAN seriously. We have close relations with all ASEAN Member States, including diplomatic missions in each ASEAN capital.

Australia was also the first country to establish a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership with ASEAN, which was agreed in 2021. As we reflect on the past 50 years and look to the future, it is clear that Australia and ASEAN not only face shared challenges, but have shared interests in a peaceful, inclusive and prosperous region.

As our partners across Southeast Asia look for options to boost their economic growth, Australia is positioned to be a reliable, trusted partner. In 2022, Australia’s two-way trade with ASEAN nations amounted to around AUD178 billion– greater than our two-way trade with Japan, the United States or the EU. We are committed, engaged and invested in the region.

Per capita, Australia is the largest development partner of ASEAN. This includes supporting ASEAN-led projects that address complex challenges in our region, such as the development of the ASEAN Strategy for Carbon Neutrality.

Last year, Australia’s Prime Minister, Anthony Albanese, launched Invested: Australia’s Southeast Asia Economic Strategy to 2040. This strategy provides a practical roadmap to increase two-way trade and investment. The objective is to increase opportunities for businesses in Australia and Southeast Asia. At the Special Summit, we will continue to advance its recommendations.

The Special Summit will centre around four key areas of focus: Business, Emerging Leaders, Climate and Clean Energy, and Maritime Cooperation. Activities include:

  • A CEO Business Forum which will bring together Australian and Southeast Asian business leaders, industry stakeholders and government agencies to discuss ways to strengthen two-way trade and investment.
  • An SME Conference, accompanied by an SME Marketplace featuring trade and investment experts to provide advice to Australian SMEs interested in doing business with Southeast Asia.
  • The next generation of Australian and ASEAN leaders will participate in an Emerging Leaders’ Dialogue, which will seek to foster a common understanding of the key long-term challenges that ASEAN and Australia jointly face, and identify areas for further cooperation.
  • A Climate and Clean Energy Forum will bring together ASEAN and Australian representatives from governments, academia, think tanks, civil society and the private sector to promote the exchange of ideas and consider opportunities to further the energy transition across the region.
  • Blue Economy and maritime security issues will be considered in new academic research at the Maritime Cooperation Conference. Perspectives on regional maritime challenges and opportunities will be shared at the Maritime Cooperation Track 1.5 Dialogue.

As the relationship between Australia and ASEAN goes from strength to strength, we are ambitious about our relationship with Vietnam. Vietnam is important to Australia’s economic future.

The focus areas of the 2024 Summit mirror the shared priorities in the Australia-Vietnam relationship. We look forward to elevating our relations to a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership and enhancing cooperation across key fields including climate change, digital transformation, trade and investment, critical minerals and education.

The Summit also provides unique opportunities to highlight people-to-people connections. Australia and Vietnam are linked through people and family ties. Vietnamese is the fourth most commonly spoken language in Australia and there are over 350,000 Australians of Vietnamese heritage, contributing to our diverse multi-cultural society.

We welcome the prominent and special role that education has in the bilateral relationship. Tens of thousands of Vietnamese students have benefitted from Australia’s commitment to education in Vietnam, particularly through RMIT’s significant contribution to the development of Vietnam’s capabilities. There is untapped opportunity and we look forward to continuing to work together for the best outcomes for students and institutions in both countries.

Following the Summit in Melbourne, Prime Minister Chinh will travel to Canberra as a guest of the Australian Government. I welcome Prime Minister Chinh, Madam Tran and the Vietnamese delegation to Australia to build on the significant achievements we celebrated last year to mark the 50th anniversary of diplomatic relations.

I am proud to highlight the strength of the Australia-Vietnam partnership, and to show the Vietnamese delegation true Aussie hospitality in my beautiful country.

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