The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) is an inter-governmental arrangement formed in 1967 by Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore and Thailand to promote political, economic and social cooperation and regional stability. Brunei joined in 1984 and Vietnam in 1995. Laos and Myanmar became members in 1997 as ASEAN marked its 30th anniversary, with Cambodia becoming ASEAN's tenth member in 1999. ASEAN's activities are coordinated by the ASEAN Secretariat based in Jakarta.
The ASEAN Declaration, ASEAN's founding document, sets out the principles of peace and cooperation to which ASEAN is dedicated. In 2008, ASEAN established its legal identity as an international organisation, following entry into force of the ASEAN Charter. ASEAN approaches its activities based on the principles of consultation, consensus, and cooperation, described as 'the ASEAN way'.
ASEAN sits at the centre of a range of other important regional arrangements, including the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF), the East Asia Summit (EAS), the ASEAN Defence Ministers Meeting - Plus and the negotiations under way for a Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP).
At its November 2015 Summit, ASEAN declared the 'ASEAN Community'. This was a significant milestone in a concerted process of regional integration premised on three pillars: the Political-Security Community, Economic Community and Socio-Cultural Community.
2017 marked ASEAN's 50th anniversary. The anniversary was an opportunity to reflect on ASEAN's substantial achievements - a strong and cohesive ASEAN has fostered cooperation and encouraged norms of behaviour that have laid the foundation for peace and prosperity in the region. Australia commemorated ASEAN's 50th anniversary with several activities throughout the year, including a reception hosted by the Governor-General on ASEAN Day (8 August) and an event co-hosted with the Philippines focused on Women's Economic Empowerment in ASEAN.
Australia and ASEAN
Australia's bilateral engagement with the countries of Southeast Asia is strengthened by our engagement with ASEAN, the region's premier representative grouping. Australia became the first of ASEAN's ten dialogue partners in 1974. We entered into a Strategic Partnership in 2014 and agreed to commence biennial leaders’ summits in 2015, with the first of these held in Vientiane in November 2016. Learn some key facts about ASEAN in Why ASEAN matters: key facts.
In March 2018, Prime Minister Turnbull will welcome ASEAN Leaders to Sydney for the ASEAN-Australia Special Summit. Learn more about Australia’s engagement with ASEAN in Why ASEAN matters: our mutual cooperation.
Australia's economic and security interests remain inextricably linked with the countries of Southeast Asia. Learn more about Australia’s work with ASEAN to address common security challenges in Why ASEAN matters: our shared security.
In 2016-17, Australia’s trade with ASEAN countries amounted to over $ 100 billion, more than with the US and Japan. Australia’s regional and bilateral free trade agreements are pathways for Australian business to tap into ASEAN and the ASEAN Economic Community. The joint DFAT-Austrade publication ‘ASEAN Now’ promotes trade and investment with ASEAN. Learn more about trade and investment with ASEAN in Why ASEAN matters: our shared prosperity.
Australia has strong connections to the people of Southeast Asia, including through migration, education exchanges and tourism. Learn more about people-to-people links with ASEAN in Why ASEAN matters: our shared connections.
Australia is a long-standing supporter of development and poverty reduction in ASEAN. Complementing the work of our bilateral programs, our regional aid program aligns with aid-for-trade objectives under the Australian Government's policy 'Australian aid: promoting prosperity, reducing poverty and enhancing stability'. The aid program also works with ASEAN to counter human trafficking and support safe and legal migration. Learn more about our ASEAN and Mekong program.
ASEAN-Australia documents and links
- Australian Mission to ASEAN website
- ASEAN –Australia Special Summit 2018 website
- Foreign Minister of Australia Op Ed: ASEAN: Enduring Partners for Regional Peace, Stability and Prosperity (16 February 2017)
- ASEAN economic fact sheet [PDF 35 KB]
- ASEAN Now: insights for Australian business, a joint publication of Austrade and DFAT, 2017
- Why ASEAN and Why Now? Insights for Australian business, a joint Austrade and DFAT publication, August 2015
- ASEAN Post Ministerial Conferences (PMC) + 1 Sessions August 2017 Manila
- Chairman's Statement of the First ASEAN-Australia Biennial Leaders' Summit, 7 September 2016, Vientiane [PDF]
- ASEAN-Australia Joint Declaration for Cooperation to Combat International Terrorism, 7 September 2016, Vientiane
- 40th Anniversary Commemorative Summit – Joint ASEAN-Australia Leaders' Statement 12 November 2014, Nay Pyi Taw.
- Plan of Action to Implement the ASEAN-Australia Strategic Partnership (2015-2019) [PDF]
- ASEAN-Australia-New Zealand Free Trade Agreement (AANZFTA)