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Togetherness, breakthrougs and enhancements - essentials for ASEAN-Australia future partnership: Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh
Huy Anh 20:49, 2024/03/06
The Vietnamese leader has high hopes for the development of ASEAN-Australia relations.

Vietnamese Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh on March 6 put forward the principles of “3 breakthroughs”, “3 enhancements” and “3 togetherness” to strengthen ASEAN-Australia relations in the future.

 Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh delivers his speech at the ASEAN-Australia Special Summit 2024 in Melbourne, Australia. Photo: VGP

Speaking at the ASEAN-Australia Special Summit 2024 to mark the 50th anniversary of the two parties' relations in Melbourne, Australia, the Prime Minister underscored the importance of the Summit to ASEAN-Australia ties.

He also paid tribute to the long-term partnership between the two sides, praising the assistance and cooperation that ASEAN and Australia have provided to each other over the past 50 years.

He recommended that ASEAN and Australia make "three breakthroughs" soon in economic, trade and investment relations to double bilateral trade in 10 years; in human resource development and labor cooperation; and in innovation and science and technology, focusing on the digital economy, green transition, circular economy, and emerging sectors such as semiconductors, chip manufacturing, AI, and finalizing an agreement on the digital economy.

The Prime Minister also urged the two sides to enhance political trust, ensure regional peace and security, prioritize dialogue and cooperation, develop preventive diplomacy, and build mutual confidence. In addition, Prime Minister Chinh called for ASEAN and Australia to strengthen their sub-regional partnership and narrow the development gap between regions, thereby promoting socio-economic growth in underprivileged areas.

Australia and ASEAN member states should expand cultural and people-to-people exchanges, tap the power of more than 350,000 overseas Vietnamese and ASEAN-origin people in Australia, and improve mutual understanding among younger generations so that the two sides can promote long-term relations, he said.

"ASEAN and Australia should work together to build a united and self-reliant region where all nations are able to mitigate the volatility brought about by the world, access and benefit from new technological advances, and drive their sustainable development so that no one is left behind," he said.

Both sides must all act in accordance with international laws and codes of conduct, including the United Nations Charter and the  ASEAN’s Code of Conduct, and make the East Sea (South China Sea) a sea of peace, stability, mutual cooperation and collective development, said the Premier.

He also urged ASEAN and Australia to build an open region based on multilateralism, with ASEAN as the key player in balancing the interests of the big powers.

ASEAN-Australia Leaders' Vision Statement and Melbourne Declaration

At the Summit, the leaders of ASEAN and Australia adopted the ASEAN-Australia Leaders' Vision Statement and the Melbourne Declaration.

 Government leaders take part in a discussion at the summit. Photo: VGP

Both sides recognized the benefits of the South China Sea as a sea of peace, stability and prosperity and supported the full and effective implementation of the 2002 Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC) in its entirety. The leaders of Australia and ASEAN urged all countries to avoid unilateral actions that threaten regional peace, security and stability, and emphasized the need to maintain and promote an environment conducive to negotiations on the Code of Conduct in the South China Sea (COC).

Both sides pledged to work together to promote an open, inclusive and transparent rules-based regional architecture in the Indo-Pacific region, in which ASEAN is central, and where the objectives and principles of the Charter of the United Nations (UN), ASEAN Charter, Treaty of Amity and Cooperation in Southeast Asia (TAC) and ASEAN Outlook on the Indo-Pacific (AOIP) are respected and upheld.

ASEAN and Australia also hope to develop a culture of discussing problems based on mutual trust and preventive measures while respecting international laws and regulations. Participants at the summit also stressed the importance of maintaining peace, stability and security for air and sea traffic in the East Sea, and resolving conflicts based on peaceful solutions and international rules.

Australia - ASEAN relations on the rise

Both ASEAN and Australia’s governments were pleased with the progress of their strategic partnership since it started in 2014, and then upgraded to a comprehensive strategic partnership in 2021.

In 2022, two-way trade between Australia and ASEAN member states increased by one-fifth from the previous year to more than $101 billion. Australian companies invested a total of $2 billion in ASEAN economies, up 6.5 times from the year before and almost back to pre-pandemic levels.

Australia has also been one of the largest partners supporting ASEAN countries with scholarships and financial and technical packages to further develop the Mekong sub-region.

ASEAN member states also welcomed Australia's provision of an additional A$222.5 million ($146.5 million) package for countries in the Mekong sub-region and the establishment of an A$2 billion ($1.32 billion) fund to promote trade and investment activities with Southeast Asian peers.

At the summit, Australia also announced an additional 40 million Australian dollars ($26.3 million) for the Southeast Asia Partnership Program, bringing the total financial assistance to 64 million Australian dollars ($42 million) for the next four years.

The two sides agreed to promote relations in the areas of political and national security cooperation and to strengthen joint efforts in education and training, human resources, tourism, cultural exchanges, and people-to-people integration.

PM Chinh's meetings at the ASEAN-Australia Special Summit

On the sidelines of the summit, Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh met with all ASEAN heads of government, Australia, New Zealand, Timor-Leste, and the ASEAN Secretary-General.

At these meetings, Prime Minister Chinh expressed Vietnam's sincere gratitude to the international community for its cooperation in socio-economic development. He hoped that Vietnam's relations with ASEAN and Australia would continue to develop in all fields.

PM Chinh also hoped to work with these nations to build ASEAN into a community of unity and an important body for resolving international issues and conflicts.

On the occasion of the summit, PM Chinh invited all the said nations to send delegations to the ASEAN Future Forum at the ministerial level to be hosted by Hanoi on April 23, 2024.

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