Today marks the 40th anniversary of Australia’s relations with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), a significant milestone in a year of events which will culminate in the commemorative leaders’ summit in November.

Australia was one of the first countries to recognise ASEAN’s importance when we became ASEAN’s first dialogue partner.  ASEAN member states now have a combined population of more than 600 million and economies of $2.4 trillion, at the heart of the dynamic Indo-Pacific region.

Australia’s relationship with ASEAN has grown from a modest officials’ meeting in Canberra on 16 April 1974 to a strong cooperative partnership covering a range of areas including trade, security, education, development and disaster relief.

As we celebrate the 40th anniversary, the Australian Government is committed to strengthening relations with ASEAN and its member states.

Building on a shared ambition for regional economic integration and continuing to grow our two-way trade, which has leapt from AU$45 billion to AU$92 billion in the past decade, is a top priority.  Ongoing economic diplomacy efforts will continue to expand our already significant trade, economic, investment and tourism ties. 

We will work together to strengthen regional security architecture, in particular the ASEAN-centred East Asia Summit, which has the right membership and mandate to help manage the region’s security, economic and financial challenges.

The ASEAN partnership provides important opportunities to deepen the ties between our peoples, including through initiatives such as the New Colombo Plan, which supports young Australians to study and undertake internships in the region, and the Australia Awards, which support emerging global leaders to study in Australia.

Our partnership has made great strides over 40 years, and Australia looks forward to even stronger ties with ASEAN in the future.

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