I am pleased to announce two new projects at the ASEAN-Australia Ministerial Meeting today that reaffirm the Australian Government’s commitment to supporting economic transformation in the region.

The Australian Government will contribute $2.8 million over three years to the UN program Shaping Inclusive Finance Transformations. The United Nations Capital Development Fund will manage the project which aims to assist low-income people access better financial services in ASEAN member states. Our goal is to see at least six million low-income people in the region transition from unregulated to regulated higher value financial services by 2020.

The Australian Government will also contribute $1 million over four years for Women’s Economic Empowerment and Leadership in ASEAN. Oxfam Australia and the International Women's Rights Action Watch Asia Pacific will manage the project which aims to strengthen women’s economic engagement with ASEAN bodies and the private sector.

These initiatives and this meeting, which I co-chaired, both underscore the ongoing strength and depth of Australia’s partnership with ASEAN as we celebrate 40 years of engagement.

Australia has long understood the importance of ASEAN and we are fully committed to promoting a region that is prosperous and economically open, free from conflict and upholds internationally-agreed laws and norms of behaviour.

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