Latest News/Press Release


27 OCTOBER 2021

The 1st ASEAN-Australia Summit was held via videoconference on 27 October 2021. The Summit was chaired by His Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah, Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam.

We reaffirmed our support for Brunei Darussalam’s ASEAN Chairmanship under the theme “We Care, We Prepare, We Prosper”, which focuses on harnessing the caring nature of ASEAN to build a harmonious and resilient Community with the people at its centre; preparing and adapting for the future to ensure ASEAN remains relevant and its people can take advantage of the new opportunities, as well as overcome existing and future challenges; and creating opportunities for its people to benefit through initiatives that enhance the sustainable prosperity of the region. We highlighted the importance of maintaining the momentum in cooperating within and beyond ASEAN for the pursuit of these long-term goals.

We were pleased with the steady progress in enhancing ASEAN-Australia Dialogue Relations over the past 47 years, including in the implementation of the Plan of Action to Implement the ASEAN-Australia Strategic Partnership (2020-2024).

We acknowledged that following the biennial ASEAN-Australia Summit, the inaugural annual ASEAN-Australia Summit marked a new chapter in Dialogue Relations between ASEAN and Australia, and symbolised our shared commitment to further advance our partnership, deepen our cooperation to promote regional peace, stability and prosperity and position our partnership for the future.

We agreed to establish a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership between ASEAN and Australia that is meaningful, substantive and mutually beneficial.

To mark this new chapter in relations, we welcomed Australia’s announcement of the Australia for ASEAN Futures Initiative, with contribution of an additional AUD 124 million into ASEAN-Australia cooperation to address complex regional challenges including health security, terrorism and transnational crime, energy security, promoting the circular economy and health oceans and support the practical implementation of ASEAN priority areas of cooperation identified in the ASEAN Outlook on the Indo-Pacific (AOIP).

We welcomed Australia’s steadfast support for ASEAN Centrality and unity in the evolving regional architecture and we reiterated our commitment to support an ASEAN-centred regional architecture that is open, transparent, inclusive and rules-based built upon ASEAN-led mechanisms including the East Asia Summit (EAS), ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF), ASEAN Defence Ministers’ Meeting Plus (ADMM-Plus) and the Expanded ASEAN Maritime Forum (EAMF). We emphasised the importance of adhering to key principles enshrined in the ASEAN Charter, Treaty of Amity and Cooperation in Southeast Asia (TAC), as well as relevant international law, including the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), the Treaty on the Southeast Asia Nuclear Weapon-Free Zone (SEANWFZ) and the Zone of Peace, Freedom and Neutrality (ZOPFAN). We underscored the importance of multilateralism, regionalism and adherence to international law and respect for sovereignty in contribution to global and regional peace, stability and prosperity.

We reaffirmed our commitment to further enhance our dialogue and cooperation, chart a path to recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, and maintain peace, security and stability in the region.

We recognised Australia’s commitment in supporting the AOIP and its principles, and welcomed Australia’s cooperation with ASEAN to advance practical implementation of ASEAN priority areas of cooperation identified in the AOIP, namely maritime cooperation, connectivity, UN Sustainable Development Goals 2030 (SDGs), economic and other possible areas of cooperation.

We reaffirmed our commitment to working closely together to address and mitigate the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic as well as to advance regional recovery, in line with the Joint Statement of the Second ASEAN-Australia Biennial Summit: “A Strong Partnership for Recovery”, adopted in November 2020. In this regard, we welcomed the implementation of AUD 500 million in new development, economic and security measures for Southeast Asia, in line with ASEAN priority areas of cooperation identified in the AOIP, and the AUD 83 million in ASEAN-Australia ‘Partnership for Recovery’ initiatives. In particular, we welcomed Australia’s contribution of AUD 1 million to support the implementation of the ASEAN Comprehensive Recovery Framework (ACRF) and the establishment of the ACRF Support Unit at the ASEAN Secretariat to help monitor and evaluate the implementation of the ACRF.

We underlined the need to have a multilateral, concerted and inclusive approach in the provision of equitable access and effective vaccines globally. In this regard, we appreciated Australia’s commitment to support equitable access to vaccine and health security in the region, through the AUD 523.2 million Vaccine Access and Health Security Initiative, including AUD 21 million pledge for the ASEAN Centre for Public Health Emergencies and Emerging Diseases (ACPHEED), noting Australia’s contribution of 4 million vaccine doses to ASEAN Member States and its procurement of more than 20 million vaccine doses for Southeast Asia through the UNICEF, as well as its pledge to further contribute at least 10 million vaccine doses from its domestic supply from late 2021 to mid-2022. We also welcomed Australia’s AUD 1 million contribution to the COVID-19 ASEAN Response Fund.

We reiterated our commitment to deepening political-security cooperation, on traditional and non-traditional security issues, including in strengthening maritime security and cooperation, promoting non-proliferation and disarmament, countering terrorism, violent extremism, and other transnational crimes, such as combatting trafficking in persons and promoting safe migration, including through the AUD 80 million ASEAN-Australia Counter Trafficking (ASEAN ACT), TRIANGLE in ASEAN program, the ASEAN-Australia Political Security Partnership Initiative and the 2018 ASEAN-Australia Memorandum of Understanding on Cooperation to Counter International Terrorism. We welcomed the strong ongoing cooperation between ASEAN and Australia on cyber and critical technologies, as well as the promotion of norms and responsible state behaviour in cyberspace, and looked forward to the convening of the second iteration of the ASEAN-Australia Cyber Policy Dialogue. We further emphasised the importance of advancing the Women, Peace and Security Agenda in the region and looked forward to the convening of the 2nd ASEAN-Australia Women, Peace and Security Dialogue in November 2021, to be co-organised by Viet Nam and Australia. We also appreciated the launching of a Peacekeeping and Women, Peace and Security training package for all ASEAN Member States. We valued Australia’s collaboration with the ASEAN Committee on Women (ACW) and the ASEAN Commission on the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Women and Children (ACWC) in advancing the Women, Peace and Security agenda and the broader gender equality agenda in ASEAN through various proposed initiatives to complement ASEAN’s efforts in developing and implementing the ASEAN Regional Plan of Action on Women, Peace and Security by 2022.

We welcomed Australia’s commitment to further enhance defence and security cooperation to address shared traditional and non-traditional challenges through ASEAN-led mechanisms, including the ADMM-Plus and the ARF. We looked forward to the convening of the ASEAN-Australia Informal Defence Ministers’ Meeting on 10 November 2021. We noted Australia’s active participation in ASEAN-led mechanisms, including co-chairing the ADMM-Plus Experts’ Working Group on Military Medicine (2021-2024) and the ARF Defence Officials’ Dialogue, both with Brunei Darussalam, as well as the ARF ISM on ICTs (2021-2024) with Indonesia, the ROK and Russia.

We expressed our concern over the unabating tide of protectionism and anti-global sentiments and reaffirmed our enduring commitment to upholding free, open, non-discriminatory, inclusive, transparent, and rules-based multilateral trading system, as embodied in the World Trade Organization (WTO) to promote regional economic cooperation. We also reiterated our commitment to strengthen resilience and sustainability of regional supply chains. We welcomed the signing of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) Agreement in November 2020, and reaffirmed our commitment to expedite respective domestic procedures to have the RCEP Agreement enter into force in early January 2022 as targeted, in order to enhance market and employment opportunities for businesses and people in the region.

We welcomed the progress made in upgrading the ASEAN-Australia-New Zealand Free Trade Area (AANZFTA), targeted for conclusion by 2022, to ensure that it remains high standard, fit for its purpose, future-proof against emerging challenges, relevant for businesses and people, and responsive to economic recovery and other emerging issues. We highlighted the need to be forward-looking to protect the region against current and future uncertainties, to put our businesses and people in the strongest position when faced with future crises, and embark on a sustainable, resilient and inclusive growth path. Noting the significant contribution of the AANZFTA Economic Cooperation Support Programme (AECSP) and the ASEAN-Australia Development Cooperation Programme Phase II (AADCP II) to ASEAN’s community building process, we appreciated Australia’s commitment in supporting ASEAN’s efforts to deepen regional economic integration and to accelerate comprehensive recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. We looked forward to the AECSP and AADCP II successor programmes, which will commence in 2022. Taking note of rapidly changing global and regional dynamics, we discussed ways for ASEAN to maximise the use of these facilities in order to bring about tangible contributions to regional economic integration, which includes increasing the utilisation of the FTA. We looked forward to the commencement of the AUD 46 million Regional Trade for Development initiative that will support the implementation of the AANZFTA and the RCEP Agreement.

We welcomed Australia’s contribution to regional economic integration under the ASEAN Economic Community Blueprint 2025, and support for narrowing the development gap within ASEAN, including through the implementation of the Master Plan on ASEAN Connectivity (MPAC) 2025 and the Initiative for ASEAN Integration (IAI) Work Plan IV (2021-2025), as well as on the ASEAN Smart Cities Network (ASCN) through the ASEAN-Australia Smart Cities Trust Fund. We welcomed Australia’s commitment to support regional economic recovery with high-quality infrastructure development and technical assistance, and to address challenges through enhanced training, technical advice and cooperation, including through Australia’s Partnerships for Infrastructure. We also appreciated Australia’s AUD 5.2 million investment under the Emerging Market Impact Investment Fund to support economic recovery by providing digital lending and financial services to micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) in Southeast Asia.

We further looked forward to the continued collaboration in areas such as digital entrepreneurship, e-commerce, MSME digitalisation, science, technologies and innovation, in light of the fast evolving Fourth Industrial Revolution. In this regard, we welcomed further ASEAN-Australia cooperation on digital economy and digital standards through the extended AUD 5 million ASEAN-Australia Digital Standards Initiative. We appreciated the support by the AADCP II in the development of the Consolidated Strategy on the Fourth Industrial Revolution for ASEAN, which will provide a clear narrative on how the ASEAN Community intends to progress digital transformation and to embrace new technologies in a comprehensive manner.

We acknowledged the contribution of education, arts and cultural exchange programmes between ASEAN and Australia, including through the New Colombo Plan, Australia Awards, and programmes run by the Australia-ASEAN Council, which continue to deepen social and cultural linkages and further strengthen people-to people links between ASEAN and Australia. We recognised that the provision of long-term scholarships and short-term skill training programmes, and substantial contribution in ASEAN Qualifications Reference Framework initiatives have been helpful in building ASEAN’s human capital for development. We welcomed Australia’s announcement of its support for the ASEAN Junior Fellowship Programme with the ASEAN Secretariat. We looked forward to the continuation and enhancements of this cooperation to continue deepening social and cultural linkages and further strengthening people-to-people links between ASEAN and Australia, including through exploring the utilisation of digital platform to promote arts and cultural exchanges. We noted ASEAN’s proposal for ASEAN and Australia to establish reciprocal green lanes and mutual recognition of health certificates during the COVID-19 pandemic.

We reaffirmed our commitment to further advance cooperation in addressing climate change, biodiversity conservation including the conservation of forests and sustainable land management practices, disaster management, marine debris and circular economy models such as Bio-Circular-Green economy. In this regard, we welcomed the launch of the AUD 5.5 million Australian Science and Technology for Climate Partnerships initiative to promote research-based solutions and technological innovations in the region and Australia’s support under the AUD 65 million Marine Resources Initiative for ASEAN maritime states to develop marine resources sustainably. We remained committed to building a resilient ASEAN with enhanced capacity to respond to natural disasters, including through support for the ASEAN Agreement on Disaster Management and Emergency Response (AADMER) Work Programme 2021-2025 and the critical work of the ASEAN Coordinating Centre for Humanitarian Assistance on disaster management (AHA Centre).

We emphasised the importance of enhancing ASEAN's capacity to prepare for, respond to and recover from future emergencies and disasters and in this regard, we encouraged for both ASEAN and Australia to share best practices and lessons learned, to improve the coordination of existing ASEAN processes and mechanisms, with a view to facilitate the implementation of the Strategic and Holistic Initiative to Link ASEAN Responses to Emergencies and Disasters (ASEAN SHIELD). We also encouraged cooperation with and through the ASEAN Centre for Biodiversity (ACB).

We looked forward to strengthening the ASEAN-Australia health cooperation which is aligned with the ASEAN Post-2015 Health Development Agenda for 2021 to 2025, including the promotion of mental health through the health experts and youth mental health dialogues in 2022 and encouraged further work to foster regional cooperation in addressing mental health issues. We welcomed the AUD 5 million ASEAN-Australia Health Security Initiative and the commencement of the ASEAN-Australia One Health Scholarships Program, which will provide up to 40 scholarships to ASEAN health officials to undertake Murdoch University health credentials, and the adoption of the EAS Statement on Mental Health Cooperation at the 16th EAS as well as the convening of the EAS Workshop on Mental Health Cooperation to be held in November 2021 and co-chaired by Brunei Darussalam and Australia.

We were encouraged by the close cooperation of ASEAN and Australia on civil service matters particularly through the completion of the Study on Civil Service Modernisation in ASEAN: Towards a Future-Ready Civil Service early this year with technical support of the Australia Public Service Commission, which provided useful inputs to the ASEAN Cooperation on Civil Service Matters (ACCSM) in strengthening institutional capabilities of civil service in responding to technological advancement and the COVID-19 pandemic. We looked forward to the implementation of the follow-up initiative in the ACCSM Work Plan 2021-2025. We commended the ACCSM for the timely adoption of the ASEAN Declaration on Fostering Civil Service’s Adaptability to the New Challenges this year.

We acknowledged Australia’s support in strengthening regional collaboration in promoting and protecting the rights of women and children in ASEAN through Australia’s partnership with ACW and ACWC in translating the ACW Work Plan 2016-2020 and ACWC Work Plan 2016-2020 into concrete actions, particularly on the implementation of the ASEAN Regional Plan of Action on the Elimination of Violence against Women (ASEAN RPA on EVAW) and its linkage with the Bohol Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Work Plan. We further appreciated Australia’s continued support to the new work plans of ACW and ACWC for 2021-2025 to uphold the rights of women and children in ASEAN.

We welcomed Australia’s continued support for ASEAN’s efforts in narrowing the development gap and promoting sustainable and equitable development areas in the ASEAN Community and recognised the relevance of sub-regional development and the contribution of sub-regional cooperation frameworks to ASEAN’s regional integration and community-building process. We appreciated Australia’s engagement with ASEAN’s sub-regional cooperation frameworks, such as the Brunei Darussalam-Indonesia-Malaysia-Philippines East ASEAN Growth Area (BIMP-EAGA), Ayeyawady-Chao Phraya-Mekong Economic Cooperation Strategy (ACMECS) and the Mekong sub-region. In this regard, we welcomed the AUD 232 million Mekong-Australia Partnership to support economic integration and development in the Mekong sub-region and encouraged increased cooperation with BIMP-EAGA.

We discussed regional and international issues of common interest and concern. We reaffirmed the importance of maintaining and promoting peace, security, stability, prosperity, safety, and freedom of navigation in and overflight above the South China Sea and pursuing peaceful resolution of disputes, without resorting to the threat or use of force, in accordance with universally recognised principles of international law, including the 1982 UNCLOS. We underscored the importance of the full and effective implementation of the 2002 Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC) in its entirety. We noted the progress in the ongoing negotiations on the Code of Conduct in the South China Sea (COC). We emphasised the need to promote an environment conducive to the COC negotiations, and thus welcomed practical measures that could reduce tensions and the risk of accidents, misunderstandings and miscalculation. We stressed the importance of undertaking confidence building and preventive measures to enhance, among others, trust and confidence amongst parties, and we reaffirmed the importance of upholding international law, including the 1982 UNCLOS.

We discussed the situation in the South China Sea, during which concerns were expressed by some countries on the land reclamations, activities and serious incidents in the area, including damage to the marine environment, which have eroded trust and confidence, increased tensions and may undermine peace, security and stability in the region. We reaffirmed the need to enhance mutual trust and confidence, exercise self-restraint in the conduct of activities that would complicate or escalate disputes, and affect peace and stability, and avoid actions that may further complicate the situation. We further reaffirmed the need to pursue peaceful resolution of disputes in accordance with universally recognised principles of international law, including the 1982 UNCLOS. We emphasised the importance of non-militarisation and self-restraint in the conduct of all activities by claimants and all other states, including those mentioned in the DOC that could further complicate the situation and escalate tensions in the South China Sea.

We also discussed recent AUKUS announcement by the Leaders of Australia, the United Kingdom and the U.S., including Australia’s decision to acquire nuclear-powered submarines, during which views were expressed on its implications for the region. We welcomed Australia’s continued support and reaffirmation for ASEAN Centrality and commitment to promote regional peace, stability and security, in accordance with the TAC as well as the steadfast commitment to meet all its obligations as a non-nuclear weapons state under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

We discussed the recent developments in Myanmar and expressed concern over the situation in the country, including reports of fatalities and violence. We also heard calls for the release of political detainees including foreigners, such as Professor Sean Turnell who was arbitrarily detained. We called on Myanmar to fulfil its commitment to the Five-Point Consensus of the ASEAN Leaders’ Meeting on 24 April 2021 and acceptance for the timely and complete implementation of the Five-Point Consensus namely, the immediate cessation of violence in Myanmar and all parties to exercise utmost restraint; constructive dialogue among all parties concerned shall commence to seek a peaceful solution in the interests of the people; the Special Envoy of the ASEAN Chair to facilitate mediation of the dialogue process, with the assistance of the Secretary-General of ASEAN; ASEAN to provide humanitarian assistance through the AHA Centre; and the Special Envoy and delegation to visit Myanmar to meet with all parties concerned. We welcomed the efforts by the Special Envoy of the ASEAN Chair on Myanmar and called on all parties concerned in Myanmar to swiftly and fully implement the Five-Point Consensus, including by facilitating the visit of the Special Envoy to Myanmar to build trust and confidence with full access to all parties concerned. We welcomed the provision of humanitarian assistance to the people of Myanmar, through the AHA Centre. We welcomed the continued support from our external partners, including Australia, for ASEAN’s efforts in the swift and complete implementation of the Five-Point Consensus. In this regard, we welcomed the Joint Statement of Support for the Special Envoy of the ASEAN Chair on Myanmar on 15 October 2021 and appreciated Australia’s pledge of AUD 5 million and its technical assistance to the AHA Centre as well as the provision of personal protective equipment to support ASEAN’s efforts in providing humanitarian assistance to the people of Myanmar.

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The Association of Southeast Asian Nations or ASEAN was founded on 8 August 1967 in Bangkok by the five original Member Countries; Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, and Thailand. Brunei Darussalam joined ASEAN on 7 January 1984