Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison today outlined new initiatives to support the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN)’s economic recovery efforts post COVID-19, reports Vietnam News Agency (VNA).
They include AU$70 million for resilience and recovery in Southeast Asia and an AU$232 million package for the Mekong region, focusing on the environment, infrastructure, cyber, and critical technologies and scholarships.
Addressing the second ASEAN-Australia Biennial Summit, held online today, Morrison commended Vietnam and ASEAN for their strong response to COVID-19 in the spirit of a cohesive and responsive ASEAN.
The leader said Australia is ASEAN’s partner in the great recovery that is occurring, noting ASEAN’s centrality is the core of Australia’s vision for Indo-Pacific.
Australia remains committed to working with the region and helping the region recover from COVID-19.
According to Morrison, Australia recently committed some AU$500 million over three years to support access to safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines for Southeast Asia and the Pacific.
“Safe effective access to affordable COVID-19 vaccines will be the central factor in our collective recovery, Morrison said,” he stressed.
In a media statement released on Friday, the Prime Minister said ASEAN remains at the heart of Australia’s vision for a peaceful, stable, inclusive, sovereign, prosperous and resilient Indo-Pacific. ASEAN has a central role to play in the region’s recovery and the post-COVID-19 regional order.
“Australia is proud to be a Strategic Partner of ASEAN and its oldest Dialogue Partner,” he said.
At the summit, Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc said Australia was one of the most long-standing partners of ASEAN with the relationship established in 1974. Over the past four decades, the bilateral relationship has been increasingly strengthened in different spheres.
ASEAN welcomes Australia’s consistent policy on accompanying the region for a long-term and supporting the bloc’s centrality, he noted.
The two sides agreed to hold the summit annually instead of biennially as a foundation to further deepen and substantially promote the important relationship. — BERNAMA