1. The 18th ASEAN-Australia Forum, which is a high-level dialogue between senior officials of Australia and the 10 Member Countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), was successfully held in Canberra on 29 June 2000.
  2. The meeting was co-chaired by Mr. John Dauth, Deputy Secretary of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and Mr. Adian Silalahi, Director-General of ASEAN Affairs, Department of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Indonesia.
  3. Both sides reiterated the importance they have attached to developing closer relations and cooperation. They welcomed the recent improvements in the structure of the ASEAN-Australia dialogue, which has been established since 1974.
  4. The Forum welcomed the economic recovery in ASEAN and noted that it has been brought about by national efforts, regional measures and international cooperation as well as support from ASEAN’s Dialogue Partners, including Australia. Both sides exchanged views on issues relating to trade, investment, economic and technical cooperation in the ASEAN-Australia Dialogue, APEC and WTO. They congratulated Brunei Darussalam on its chairing of APEC this year. Australia and ASEAN recalled the outcomes of the recent meeting of APEC Ministers Responsible for Trade, in particular the APEC Ministers’ call for renewed efforts to build the global consensus necessary for the launch of a new WTO round at the earliest opportunity and the implementation of the set of confidence building measures agreed.
  5. ASEAN underlined the importance of restoring the confidence of developing countries in the promised benefits of globalisation and trade liberalisation by ensuring that the agenda for the new round is well-balanced to reflect the interest of all WTO members. ASEAN emphasised, in particular, the need to take into account the concerns of developing countries. ASEAN and Australia welcomed the positive role played by the Cairns Group and pledged to cooperate in strengthening it in order to achieve progress in the mandated agriculture negotiations in the WTO.
  6. Australia endorsed ASEAN’s call for the WTO to facilitate the early accession of Cambodia, Laos and Viet Nam into the WTO on appropriate terms. Australia also expressed support to ASEAN’s ongoing efforts in integrating its new members (Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Viet Nam) into the ASEAN regional economic cooperation schemes.
  7. The Forum had an extensive exchange of views on social and environmental challenges facing the region, including the haze problem caused by peat and forest fires in Kalimantan and Sumatra, other transnational issues as well as transnational crime, including money laundering and people smuggling/people trafficking. Australia reiterated its commitment to cooperate with ASEAN in these areas.
  8. Both sides expressed satisfaction with the fruitful cooperation in several areas of common interest, and agreed to continue their close collaboration. They noted in particular the growing importance of information and communication technology (ICT) as the foundation of the new economy, and agreed to cooperate actively in this area, especially in supporting the e-ASEAN initiative, which is aimed at liberalising trade in ICT goods, services and investments in the ASEAN region. ASEAN welcomed Australia’s interest and support for its efforts in providing technical and human resources development (HRD) assistance to help narrow the so-called “digital divide”.
  9. They also noted that the ASEAN-Australia collaboration on cultural heritage management has been an excellent example of cooperative relations, especially in the light of ASEAN’s forthcoming adoption of a Declaration on cultural heritage. They underlined the importance of the ASEAN-Australia Development Cooperation Programme, which will involve assistance to ASEAN amounting to $A45 million from 2001-2006, as an innovative initiative which will have help strengthen ASEAN as a regional entity and bringing ASEAN and Australia closer together.
  10. Both sides agreed that the region has remained peaceful and stable in spite of the recent financial crisis. They welcomed the positive role of the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) in strengthening regional peace and stability and building confidence by promoting the habit of cooperation through dialogue and consultations among all the ARF participants. In this connection, both sides welcomed the forthcoming participation of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) in the 7th ARF, which will be hosted by Thailand in Bangkok on 27 July 2000. Australia reiterated its appreciation for ASEAN’s creative leadership in the ARF.
  11. In their discussion on regional issues, Australia commended ASEAN’s efforts in resolving outstanding issues in the South China Sea and welcomed the recent positive developments in the ASEAN-China consultations on a regional code of conduct in the South China Sea. Australia and ASEAN were heartened by the recent positive developments in the Korean Peninsula, especially the North-South Summit in mid-June.
  12. ASEAN and Australia underscored the importance of developing friendly and constructive relations through the mechanisms under their dialogue, especially the Forum. It was agreed that ASEAN-Australia cooperation should be guided by the Ha Noi Plan of Action and the ASEAN Vision 2020. Both sides welcomed the progress which has been made to date by the high-level task force established to examine the feasibility of an AFTA-CER Free Trade Area. They are looking forward to receiving the task force report and recommendations in October 2000, which could generate new ideas for inter-regional economic cooperation among ASEAN, Australia and New Zealand.
  13. It was agreed that the 19th ASEAN-Australia Forum would be held in Brunei Darussalam in the first quarter of 2002.