The ASEAN-Australia Special Summit marked a new era in Australia’s partnership with ASEAN and its ten members. For the first time ever Australia hosted a Summit with ASEAN Leaders in Australia in Sydney on March 17–18. The Summit built on deep and lasting economic cooperation, political dialogue, and the natural expansion of people- to-people links. A suite of business-focused events highlighted why Australian business should be doing more with this dynamic region.
Australia is ASEAN’s longest standing dialogue partner with a relationship spanning 44 years. We secured the ASEAN-Australia-New Zealand Free Trade Agreement, ASEAN’s highest quality regional FTA, in 2010; set up our first resident diplomatic mission to ASEAN in Jakarta in 2013; and elevated our relationship to a Strategic Partnership in 2014. The first biennial Leaders’ Summit was held in Laos in 2016.
Two focused events took place in the lead-up to the Special Summit — a Business Summit and a Counter Terrorism Conference. The Business Summit was a valuable forum for the private sector and government to work together to tackle key challenges and drive forward regional prosperity. It culminated in the development of policy recommendations for leaders to bolster the ASEAN-Australian trade and investment relationship.
The Business Summit comprised an invitation-only CEO Forum, Women in Business Breakfast as well as a Small–and– Medium-sized Enterprise (SME) Conference. All Business Summit events were delivered in partnership with the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the Australian Industry Group, the Business Council of Australia and the Export Council of Australia.
"ASEAN is a diverse and exciting region — and this is a natural fit for the risk taking and entrepreneurial zeal encompassed within small and medium enterprises."
Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment Steven Ciobo: Speech, ASEAN Summit SME Conference, 16 March 2018
The CEO Forum examined topics vital to deepening economic integration, including agri-business supply chains, infrastructure, digital transformation, future energy, tourism destination development, and aviation.
The Women in Business Breakfast built on the success of an ASEAN Women in Business forum Australia and the Philippines co-hosted in Manila in August 2017. It provided a platform for the exchange and generation of ideas on practical and effective initiatives to support women’s economic empowerment – a key issue underpinning the region’s future prosperity.
The SME Conference for Australian SMEs who are exporting to ASEAN or considering doing so gave delegates the opportunity to tap into expertise and obtain advice from regional specialists, business leaders and successful exporters brought together to share their knowledge and insights.
“There is a strong fit between ASEAN’s growth drivers and the goods and services Australia has to offer.”
Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment Steven Ciobo, Ministerial Foreword: ASEAN Now: insights for Australian business, November 2017
With a population of around 637 million, a combined GDP of around US$2.7 trillion, and a middle-class that is expected to more than double to 400 million by 2020, ASEAN is an important partner for Australian businesses and investors. As a region it is consistently one of our top-three trading partners, ahead of both the United States and Japan.
The latest joint Austrade, DFAT and PM&C report on commercial opportunities in ASEAN, ‘ASEAN Now: insights for Australian business’ is available at: http://dfat.gov.au/about-us/publications/Pages/asean-now-insights-for-australian-business.aspx
The next edition of Business Envoy will focus on trade with ASEAN and a wrap up of the ASEAN-Australia Special Summit.