Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN)

Background

Established in 1967, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) aims to accelerate economic growth, social progress and cultural development in the region and to promote regional peace and stability through the rule of law and adherence to the principles of the United Nations Charter. The ASEAN Charter, which entered into force on 15 December 2008, provides a legal and institutional framework to support the realisation of ASEAN's objectives, including regional integration and establishment of the ASEAN Community in 2015.

ASEAN comprises ten countries: Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.

ASEAN has ten Dialogue Partners: Australia, Canada, China, EU, India, Japan, New Zealand, ROK, Russia and the United States.

Statistics

ASEAN economic fact sheet [PDF 35 KB]

ASEAN Structure

The Chair of ASEAN is rotated among the ASEAN countries on an annual basis, and acts as host of the Summit and key ministerial meetings. The Chair of ASEAN for 2015 is Malaysia, to be followed by Laos in 2016.

The ASEAN Secretariat, based in Jakarta, Indonesia, coordinates, initiates and implements ASEAN activities. The Secretariat is headed by the Secretary-General of ASEAN, who is appointed for a five-year term and accorded ministerial status. Le Luong Minh, former Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs of Vietnam, assumed the post of Secretary-General of ASEAN in January 2013.

Established by the ASEAN Charter, the Jakarta-based ASEAN Committee for Permanent Representatives (CPR) is tasked to engage Dialogue Partners.
ASEAN holds biennial Head of State/Government-level Summits, as well as regular ministerial and senior officials’ meetings across a number of portfolios throughout the year.  

ASEAN documents, statements and meeting schedules

Australia's Relationship with ASEAN

Australia's relationship with ASEAN was formalised in April 1974 when representatives of the then ASEAN member countries and a delegation of Australian officials agreed to meet on a regular basis to discuss political, economic and functional cooperation. Today Australia has a deep relationship with ASEAN covering cooperation and engagement in a range of areas including security, culture, trade, investment, education and development.  Australia engages regularly with ASEAN leaders, ministers and officials and participates in ASEAN-centred groupings such as the East Asia Summit (EAS) and ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF).  Australia appointed a resident Ambassador to ASEAN in September 2013.

Australia and ASEAN marked the 40th anniversary of relations in 2014, culminating in an ASEAN-Australia leaders' summit in November 2014 with agreement to elevate relations to a strategic partnership and to hold regular summits in future.  A revised Plan of Action to guide the partnership was also adopted.

The ASEAN-Australia-New Zealand FTA (AANZFTA) entered into force on 1 January 2010. Australia is also engaged with ASEAN on Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) negotiations.

Australia has been a key development partner to ASEAN for many years, including through the ASEAN-Australia Development Cooperation Program.

ASEAN-Australia documents and links