1. The 17th ASEAN-Australia Forum was held in Bandar Seri Begawan on 24-25 June 1996.
  2. Her Royal Highness Princess Hajah Masna, Ambassador-at-Large at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Brunei Darussalam delivered an opening address and welcomed official participants and private sector representatives to the meeting. Her Royal Highness noted the warm and close partnership between ASEAN and Australia and reaffirmed that ASEAN greatly valued its cooperation with Australia. Her Royal Highness encouraged the Forum to look for bold new ideas to carry ASEAN-Australia relations forward into the 21st century.
  3. Pehin Dato Lim Jock Seng, the ASEAN-Co-Chairman emphasised the excellent progress in ASEAN-Australian cooperation in the political, economic and development fields and important role of the private sector in implementing economic and development cooperation.
  4. Mr. Philip Flood, the leader of the Australian delegation, confirmed that the now Australian Government gave very high priority to maintaining a close and cooperative relationship with its neighbours in ASEAN, He observed that Australia’s interest in doing business with the ASEAN region was evident in the strong private sector participation in the meeting,
  5. The Forum expressed satisfaction with the long-standing and, close relationship between ASEAN and Australia. The Forum discussed areas of cooperation at the sub- regional, regional and multilateral levels and discussed ways to stimulate further private sector participation from Australia in regional economic affairs, and particularly in Growth Areas connecting ASEAN member countries.
  6. The Forum remarked on the strong and sustained growth in two-way trade, and the improvement in investment levels between ASEAN and Australia, ASEAN was informed of changes in Australia’s visa system, introduced to facilitate business travel between Australia and neighbouring countries and of changes to Australia’s trading regime, Australia informed ASEAN that its average tariff rate would be reduced to 5% by 1 July 1996, ASEAN informed Australia of initiatives taken to enhance regional economic cooperation in the services, investment and intellectual property sectors, and briefed Australian business representatives on the acceleration and broadening of tariff reductions implemented under the AFTA agreement. ASEAN also informed Australia that ASEAN-Mekong Basin Development Cooperation welcomed participation by Australia and other countries, regional and international institutions and the private sector.
  7. The Forum agreed that there was substantial potential for further growth in trade and investment, In this connection, the Forum noted the success of the first year of the talks between ASEAN and Australia on developing linkages between AFTA and CER (the Closer Economic Relations agreement between Australia and New Zealand), and looked forward to the second AEM-CER Consultations that would be held in Jakarta in September 1 996.
  8. Australia welcomed ASEAN’s initiative to develop cooperation in the Mekong Basin States, and expressed its willingness to work with ASEAN in this endeavour.
  9. The Forum discussed preparations for the WTO Ministerial Conference in Singapore. Both sides called for the full implementation of the Uruguay Round and the Built-In Agenda and agreed that issues such as labour standards should not be brought into the WTO.
  10. ASEAN briefed the Forum on arrangements for the forthcoming APEC Leaders meeting, The Forum agreed that the major task for APEC this year would be to build upon the success of the Bogor Declaration and the Osaka Action agenda,
  11. The Forum discussed the implementation of the ASEAN-Australia Economic Cooperation Program (AAECP) Phase III and noted that the AAECP had been a significant element in the ASEAN-Australia relationship, This collaborative development had been very successful in promoting the awareness of ASEAN institutions and the, public in general on activities under the ASEAN-Australia dialogue relations.
  12. On political and security issues, ASEAN and Australia agreed that the expansion of ASEAN and the way in which the ASEAN Regional Forum had developed had contributed significantly to the security of the region.
  13. Apart from regional security and trade and investment relations, the Forum reviewed developments in telecommunications, cooperation in education and training, Environmental management and in the cultural and information field.