Australian Embassy

Media Release - 8/5/2015

Australian Ambassador to ASEAN discusses Australia-ASEAN partnership and ASEAN’s role in the evolving regional order at Diplomatic Academy of Vietnam


The Australian Ambassador to ASEAN, HE Mr Simon Merrifield, in his talk at the Diplomatic Academy of Vietnam today, emphasised the importance of ASEAN’s role in sustaining regional prosperity and managing strategic dynamics in the region, and reconfirmed Australia’s committment to ASEAN.

Australia’s first resident Ambassador to ASEAN said that ASEAN has been a great success story in international affairs, essential to achieving and preserving a stable and prosperous region, pointing out that ASEAN’s role becomes more important as our regional strategic enviroment becomes more complex.

“ASEAN has a key role in helping all of us successfully manage the changing strategic dynamics in the region, including the relationships between and among the major players. ASEAN centrality serves a strategic purpose in helping to balance these dynamics,” said the Ambassador.

“ASEAN and ASEAN-led fora can make the most of this centrality with active management of some of the region’s more sensitive issues. This includes, of course, the ongoing tensions in the South China Sea,” he said and adding that is why it’s important for Australia and members of the broader region to invest in building up ASEAN-led mechanisms for dealing with security and strategic issues and to support a stronger ASEAN.

Australia has given support to ASEAN in a wide range of areas and is now providing its less well-off members with annual development assistance worth $1 billion to help reduce poverty, develop human capital, improve infrastructure and facilitate trade through promoting economic growth and narrowing the development gap within the bloc.

“Australia retains its strong and deep committment to ASEAN, through sustaining our aid investments among the less well-off ASEAN members and supporting ASEAN connectivity and the implementation of the ASEAN Community 2015 vision.”
The partnership between Australia and ASEAN has come a long way since Australia became ASEAN’s first dialogue partner in 1974. With a combined population of more than 600 million people and being located at the heart of the dynamic Indo-Pacific region, ASEAN is now a strategic partner of Australia and its second largest trade partner after China, with two-way trade turnover of $99 billion.