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Aug 04, 2021 / 17:10

Australia announces $371 million investment package to aid ASEAN recovery

ASEAN and Australia are expected to strengthen cooperation in the research and production of Covid-19 vaccines.

Australia is in the process of disbursing the AUD500 million (US$371 million) package to support ASEAN’s comprehensive recovery, while another AUD523 million ($388 million) would be allocated for the health security initiative and Covid-19 vaccines access.

 Overview of the meeting. Source: Bao Quoc te

Australia’s Minister for Foreign Affairs and Minister for Women Marise Payne announced the move in the ASEAN Post Ministerial Conference (PMC) ASEAN-Australia under a virtual format today [August 4], which is part of the 54th ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Meeting (AMM-54).

According to Payne, Australia would provide a scholarship program for 40 health experts and staff from ASEAN countries, along with hosting the ASEAN-Australia dialogue on the youth’s mental health in the coming time.

Stressing the long-standing relations established since 1974, Payne stressed the significance of ASEAN-Australia relations, while expressing the support for ASEAN’s central role in addressing regional issues.

  

ASEAN’s foreign ministers welcomed Australia’s donation of AUD1 million ($742,000) for the ASEAN Covid-19 Response Fund and AUD21 million ($15.5 million) for the ASEAN Center for Public Health Emergencies and Emerging Diseases (ACPHEED) while calling for Australia to continue cooperating in the research and production of Covid-19 vaccines.

On cooperation priorities, both ASEAN and Australia agreed on the necessity to soon control the Covid-19 pandemic and support the subsequent recovery process, especially in economy, trade, investment, and protecting supply chains.

Both sides hoped to effectively utilize the ASEAN-Australia-New Zealand Free Trade Agreement (AANZFTA), ratify the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), and expand cooperation in digital transformation, digital economy, and infrastructure.

ASEAN and Australia expressed commitment to strengthening cooperation for peace and stability in the region, including in the East Sea.

Adding to the vision of ASEAN-Australia cooperation, Vietnam’s Foreign Minister Bui Thanh Son suggested the two sides step up efforts in keeping the markets open and networks of supply chains intact amid the Covid-19 impacts.

“Australia should play a more active role in narrowing the development gap and foster inclusive growth in sub-regions, including the Mekong,” he added.   

At a time when the Covid-19 pandemic is wreaking havoc on the global economy, the ASEAN-Australia partnership has been going strong with a bilateral trade turnover of over AUD100 billion ($74.2 billion) last year.