Visit by the ASEAN Secretary General
19 March 2014
Today I welcome the Secretary-General of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), Le Luong Minh, on his first official visit to Australia.
Secretary General Minh’s visit coincides with the fortieth anniversary of Australia’s formal dialogue partnership with ASEAN, which began with an officials meeting in Canberra on 16 April 1974. Australia was ASEAN’s first dialogue partner.
South East Asia is vital for Australia’s strategic and economic interests. Australia is working in partnership with the ASEAN Secretariat, headed by Secretary General Minh, to support integration efforts between ASEAN countries including through the ASEAN-Australia Development Cooperation Program.
Secretary General Minh’s visit will provide an opportunity to discuss challenges facing the region, including maritime security and disaster management. ASEAN plays a key role in regional security-focused engagement, in particular through the leaders-level East Asia Summit and the ASEAN Regional Forum.
The ten member countries of ASEAN represent a population of more than 600 million people and a combined economy of $2.4 trillion. Australia’s two-way trade with ASEAN has more than doubled in the past decade to $92 billion in 2012-13.
ASEAN’s importance to Australian interests will grow as it seeks to deepen economic, political-security and socio-cultural integration through an ASEAN Community by 2015.
Australia and ASEAN are also working together to implement the 2010 ASEAN-Australia-New Zealand Free Trade Agreement and negotiate the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership which are key drivers of regional economic integration.
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