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The ASEAN summit is underway in Melbourne

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Southeast Asian leaders have gathered in Melbourne for the start of this week’s ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) Summit.
ASEAN summit melbourne

Southeast Asian leaders have gathered in Melbourne for the start of this week’s ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) Summit.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese is expected to meet with several leaders on the sidelines of the three-day summit, which begins today.

Australia is not a formal member of ASEAN, but its relationships and trade deals with member states are considered vital for economic stability.

ASEAN member countries

  • Indonesia
  • Thailand
  • Philippines
  • Vietnam
  • Singapore
  • Malaysia
  • Cambodia
  • Brunei
  • Myanmar
  • Laos

About the ASEAN summit

ASEAN nations have a combined population of 685 million people.

Australia’s trade deals with ASEAN countries totalled $178 billion in 2022.

ASEAN countries also represent a significant number of Australia’s international student population.

For example, over 100,000 students from ASEAN countries are enrolled in courses around the country.

What’s expected?

This week’s summit marks 50 years of Australia’s involvement with ASEAN.

Albanese has scheduled meetings and events with all leaders attending the summit.

The PM is expected to push for stronger economic ties between Australia and ASEAN countries during these meetings.

Albanese said: “Building Australia’s links with the countries of Southeast Asia is a priority for the Government.”

China

Concerns about China’s influence in Southeast Asia may also be raised.

Albanese said the government considers ASEAN countries to be “at the centre of a stable, peaceful, and prosperous region. Strengthening our relationship ensures our shared future prosperity and security.”

In a speech to Australian Parliament last week, Philippines President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. mentioned concerns about security in the South China Sea, which he said is “crucial to the preservation of regional peace and… global peace”.

Myanmar

Myanmar is the only ASEAN nation without a leader at the summit.

Its ties with the association have been strained since the Myanmar military overthrew the incoming government in a 2021 coup. ASEAN responded by banning Myanmar’s ruling generals from its summits.

The Australian Government has condemned the military regime and imposed sanctions on those who supported the coup, which saw Australian academic Sean Turnell, who worked with Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi, imprisoned until late 2022.

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