The Twelfth Forum was held in Perth from 15 to 16 May 1989.
The Forum was opened by Senator Gareth Evans, Q.C., Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, who spoke of the importance of the Forum in the Australia-ASEAN dialogue and of the Prime Minister’s proposal for closer Asia- Pacific Regional Economic Cooperation. The Minister stressed the importance of the support of ASEAN in advancing the need for regional economic cooperation
The ASEAN side appreciated the Australian Government’s efforts to consult on this issue individually with ASEAN countries and the detailed elaboration of the proposal by Senator Evans. They agreed to convey details of the Australian initiative back to ASEAN capitals for further consideration.
The Forum endorsed a programme for the ASEAN – Australia Economic Cooperation Programme (Phase 11) involving the expenditure of A$ 35 million over five years for the promotion of trade and investment between ASEAN and Australia, and for projects in science and technology covering food technology, biotechnology, microelectronics, marine sciences and energy.
The private sector, through the auspices of the ASEAN – Australia Business Council, participated in the Forum for the first time. Their participation added a new dimension to the Forum’s discussion of commercial matters including; trade liberalisation policies in each country, the investment climate, the importance of education and training, and the potential for expanding trade and investment between Australia and ASEAN. On the part of ASEAN this participation has given a boost to the decision of the Third Meeting of ASEAN Heads of Government to encourage private sector participation in the dialogue process.
The discussion revealed that the pace of trade liberalisation and economic deregulation is quickening in both ASEAN and Aultralia. Arising from the Third ASEAN Summit in December 1987, further improvements have been made on the ASEAN Preferential Trading Arrangement and the ASEAN Industrial Joint Venture Scheme to make them more attractive to foreign Investors. In addition, some ASEAN countries have individually proceeded to implement trade liberalisation measures.
Australia in turn outlined the tariff reductions and quota phaseouts announced in the May 1988 Economic Statement.
It was agreed that these changes will increase trading opportunities between Australia and ASEAN.
There was a discussion on the reasons for the decline in Australian investment in ASEAN. The Forum also discussed anti-dumping issues, ANZCERTA, quarantine, and proposals by Australia for the taxation of foreign income.
The Uruguay Round and commodity issues of mutual interest were discussed and both sides agreed to cooperate closely on building on the successful outcome of the April meeting of the Trade Negotiating Committee.
Two new items on the agenda were also raised, science and technology and telecommunications. For Science and Technology, it was decided that there would be value in developing a better understanding of long-term goals of mutual interest. On telecommunications it was agreed that dialogue continue with ASEAN, both collectively and with individual members, to ascertain how telecommunications trade and policy issues could be incorporated in future Forum considerations.
Singapore, as country coordinator for the ASEAN – Australia dialogue will host the 13th Forum.