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Bandar Seri Begawan, Wednesday, 27th October 2021

His Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu’izzaddin Waddaulah ibni Al-Marhum Sultan Haji Omar ‘Ali Saifuddien Sa’adul Khairi Waddien, Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam, this afternoon chaired the 1st ASEAN-Australia Summit, held virtually via video conference from Baitul Mesyuarah, Istana Nurul Iman.

At the 1st ASEAN-Australia Summit, His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam as ASEAN Chair for 2021 highlighted that the inaugural Annual ASEAN-Australia Summit marks a new chapter in ASEAN’s relations with Australia, ASEAN’s first Dialogue Partner.

His Majesty recognised that the prolonged COVID-19 pandemic has greatly affected our people, such as their livelihoods, lifestyle and well-being, including their mental health.

His Majesty also acknowledged Australia’s strong support in working with both Brunei Darussalam and Malaysia, to bring the mental health agenda to the forefront in our region.

In this regard, His Majesty looked forward to capacity building initiatives and the sharing of expertise and experience amongst our officials and the youth to address mental health issues.

His Majesty noted that we continue to face regional and global economic uncertainties while recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic, and one way to overcome these challenges is by upholding the rules-based, open and inclusive multilateral trading system.

To this end, the intensifying of trade activities as well as the strengthening of trade arrangements between ASEAN and Australia was encouraged.

His Majesty was therefore pleased that negotiations to upgrade the ASEAN-Australia-New Zealand Free Trade Agreement are progressing well, and looked forward to its conclusion in a timely manner.

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

Meanwhile, The Honourable Scott Morrison, Prime Minister of Australia underscored that ASEAN’s regional stability is fundamental to Australia, leading to the enduring partnership that is open, inclusive and resilient. With ASEAN at the center of the Indo Pacific, Australia reaffirmed its commitment and support for the four priority areas, namely maritime cooperation, connectivity, sustainable development and the economic, in line with the ASEAN Outlook for the Indo-Pacific.

His Excellency Phankham Viphavanh, Prime Minister of the Lao People’s Democratic Republic delivered the ASEAN Common Statement as Country Coordinator for ASEAN-Australia Dialogue Relations which, among other things, welcomed the elevation of ASEAN-Australia relations to a comprehensive strategic partnership; appreciated Australia’s participation in ASEAN-led mechanisms and its commitment to ASEAN centrality; supported the implementation of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership agreement and upgrading of the ASEAN-Australia-New Zealand Free Trade Agreement; and socio-cultural flagship programmes including people-to-people exchanges and education.

At the Summit, leaders expressed appreciation for Australia’s initiative in enhancing vaccine security within the region as well as called for further cooperation in the area of public health. There is a need to address common challenges following the COVID-19 pandemic through the implementation of relevant action plans and constructive engagements. Leaders encouraged for the increased cooperation in key areas such as digital economy, cyber security, smart cities, as well as promoting the role of women in socio-economic developments.

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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