As Prime Minister John Howard flies out to attend the ASEAN Leaders’ Summit, he has commented on the ASEAN Non-Aggression Treaty.
The Opposition’s Shadow Minister for Foreign Affairs, Kevin Rudd, also commented on the treaty.
ASEAN is the Association of South-East Asian Nations. The organisation was formed in 1967. Its members are: Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Brunei, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar (Burma), and Vietnam.
Australia and New Zealand attend the Leader’s Summits but neither country is a formal member of ASEAN.
- Listen to John Howard (2m)
- Listen to Kevin Rudd (1m)
Statement from Prime Minister John Howard.
I will be travelling to Vientiane, Laos, to attend the ASEAN-Australia and New Zealand Leaders’ Summit on 30 November. The Summit will provide an excellent opportunity to commemorate the 30th anniversary of Australia’s dialogue relationship with ASEAN and explore ways to deepen our economic, political, strategic and people-to-people engagement.
It is hoped the Summit will launch negotiations on an ASEAN-Australia and New Zealand Free-Trade Agreement (FTA). This is an exciting development that will present Australian exporters with further commercial opportunities in this large market, with two-way trade valued at $32.8 billion in 2003-04.
My visit will also provide an opportunity to reinforce and strengthen the enduring links Australia enjoys with ASEAN. We have strong defence and security relations with ASEAN countries. A network of security dialogues, extensive defence cooperation and practical cooperation against terrorism is growing strongly.
Development cooperation remains an important element of Australia’s agenda with ASEAN – to help support regional economic integration and to combat common regional challenges such as HIV-AIDS, avian influenza and people trafficking. During my visit, I will reiterate Australia’s strong commitment to continuing to work with ASEAN to find practical ways to address these challenges.
Transcript of Prime Minister John Howard’s doorstop on his departure for the ASEAN Australia-New Zealand Leaders’ Summit.
JOURNALIST: With regard to the free trade agreement that we’re looking at with the ASEAN nations, what were you hoping to achieve from that?
HOWARD: What I’m hoping to achieve is an agreement that we commence a two year process of negotiating a free trade agreement between Australia and New Zealand and the ASEAN countries. If that happens, that will be a good outcome. Remember, of course, that we already have very extensive trade relations with many of the countries of ASEAN and we already have a free trade agreement with Thailand, and a free trade agreement with Singapore. We’re talking about one with Malaysia, and, of course, we have very extensive and growing trade relationships with the nations of North Asia, namely Japan, China and Korea. So we have to keep these discussions and these negotiations in perspective.
JOURNALIST: What would be the benefits from Australia (inaudible)?
HOWARD: Just a further growth in our trade with the region, but once again it’s the substance of the trade relationships that matters rather than formal documents and formal processes. It’s how much you sell and how much you buy, and how many people you educate in each others countries that really matters rather than documents. Documents are process; trading relationships are the substance of an association between countries.
JOURNALIST: What effect would Australia’s signing or non-signing of the Treaty of Amity and Co-operation have on negotiations and ultimately a treaty?
HOWARD: Well, they’re two separate issues. We shouldn’t confuse the two, and that’s been made very clear. They’re two unrelated issues, and in the end it’s the substance of the relationship that we have with individual countries that really matters.