Australia enhances partnership with ASEAN hinh anh 1Australian Minister of Foreign Affairs Marise Payne (Source: Reuters)
Hanoi (VNA) - Australia will enhance its cooperation with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to strengthen the partnership with the region to address the current and future challenges in the Indo-Pacific.

In her statement released on August 7, Australian Minister of Foreign Affairs Marise Payne said Australia will implement a new package of initiatives under Partnerships for Recovery to meet the health security, economic and stability challenges in our region, including COVID-19.

“I am pleased to launch One Health Scholarships for up to 40 students from ASEAN countries to undertake an online Graduate Certificate in One Health, delivered by Murdoch University,” she said.

Recognising the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on mental health, Australia will hold the first ASEAN-Australia Mental Health Experts videoconference and a Youth Dialogue to exchange expertise among the region’s policy makers, practitioners and future leaders.

ASEAN, as a bloc, is Australia’s second largest trading partner, as a bloc, so their economic recoveries from COVID-19 are closely linked, she stated, adding Australia’s first investment of 5.2 million AUD (4.1 million USD) under the Emerging Markets Impact Investment Fund will provide digital lending and financial services to small and medium enterprises in Southeast Asia.

Affirming the critical role ASEAN has played in maintaining stability and cooperation in Southeast Asia over the past six decades, Payne said Australia will support international response efforts with additional COVID-19 assistance, including technical experts to the ASEAN Coordinating Centre for Humanitarian Assistance on Disaster Management; provide additional PPE through ASEAN; and an additional 6 million AUD (4.8 million USD) contribution to the UN Office for Project Services to support vulnerable households in Myanmar.

She said Australia is gravely concerned about the impact of Myanmar’s COVID-19 crisis, both on the people of Myanmar and the region’s health security, and welcomes the appointment of Brunei Foreign Minister II Dato Erywan as the Special Envoy of the ASEAN Chair on Myanmar. Australia urges the full and timely implementation of the Five Points of Consensus agreed at the ASEAN Leaders’ Meeting on April 24.

“Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, we must not lose sight of the importance of working together to contain the threat of terrorism and radicalisation. To enhance our cooperation in this area, ASEAN and Australia have agreed to establish an annual Counter-Terrorism Dialogue,” she noted.

According to the minister, this week, her country launched the Australian Science and Technology for Climate Partnerships, a 5.5 million AUD (4.4 million USD) initiative to address climate challenges with research-based solutions in the Indo-Pacific.

This support complements the 500 million AUD (400 million USD) package Prime Minister Morrison announced at the 2020 ASEAN-Australia Summit. These investments, along with Australia’s broader development programme, vaccine access initiative and 1.5 billion AUD loan to Indonesia for budgetary support, comprise Australia’s largest package of support for Southeast Asia since the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami./.