1. The 22nd ASEAN-Australia Forum was held in Canberra, Australia, on 22 May 2008, with the participation of representatives from Australia, ASEAN Member States and the ASEAN Secretariat.
  2. The Forum was co-chaired by Mr Michael L’Estrange, Secretary of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade of Australia and Mr Virasakdi Futrakul, Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Thailand.
  3. The Forum acknowledged the long-standing partnership between ASEAN and Australia as well as the multi-faceted challenges, including natural disasters, infectious diseases, traditional and non-traditional security threats, facing the region. In this regard, the Forum welcomed the recent adoption of the Plan of Action for the ASEAN-Australia Comprehensive Partnership, which, once implemented, will take the ASEAN-Australia relationship to a higher plane.
  4. The Forum extended its profound sympathy to the people of Myanmar for the devastation and loss of life caused by Cyclone Nargis. Cyclone Nargis has resulted in a humanitarian crisis of massive proportions. Australia welcomed the deployment by ASEAN of an ASEAN Emergency Rapid Assessment Team to Myanmar and the Special ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ meeting on 19 May 2008 which focused on facilitating provision of international assistance to the affected area. Australia encouraged ASEAN and Myanmar to work together with the UN and other donors to establish distribution networks to those in most need. Australia will provide substantial assistance to the Myanmar people at this time of need. The Forum provided a timely opportunity to discuss how existing regional mechanisms for disaster preparedness, disaster mitigation and disaster response could be better coordinated.
  5. The Forum welcomed progress in the implementation of the Plan of Action of the ASEAN-Australia Comprehensive Partnership. A considerable amount of work to implement specific items in the Plan of Action is already underway across our political, security, economic, development and socio-cultural interests. Australia and ASEAN agreed to provide regular updates of their respective progress with implementation.
  6. The Forum recognised the contribution of the ASEAN-Australia Development Cooperation Program (AADCP) to ASEAN’s economic integration and welcomed news of the recent approval of the successor program of the AADCP (AADCP II) 2008-15. The goal of AADCP II is to promote economic growth, particularly in the region’s less developed countries, by supporting ASEAN to establish an ASEAN Economic Community by 2015.
  7. The Forum took note of progress with ASEAN Community building process, including ratification of the ASEAN Charter, progress in implementation of the Economic Blueprint and Strategic Schedule and preparation for the establishment of an ASEAN human rights body. The Forum also noted ASEAN’s continued efforts to engage key players in the region and beyond and reaffirmed their common interest in further engaging among themselves and with external partners in order to maintain peace, stability and prosperity in the region.
  8. The Forum noted that food security was an issue of growing concern for the region. The Forum welcomed Australia’s contribution to provide assistance and the commissioning of studies to feed into the development of a comprehensive action plan to address food security in the longer-term.
  9. The Forum extended its full support to the 4th East Asia Summit, to be held in Thailand in December, and agreed that Leaders’ discussion could usefully focus on key issues affecting our region, such as human security and finance.
  10. The Forum noted that negotiations on the ASEAN-Australia and New Zealand Free Trade Agreement (AANZFTA) were now in the final phase and acknowledged that the political will to achieve a substantive outcome this year existed on both sides. The Forum hoped that progress in negotiations in Hanoi in June would be sufficient to allow conclusion of the Agreement in August 2008.
  11. The Forum was briefed by Australia on its priorities for Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) and an invitation was extended to relevant ASEAN Ministers to attend the meeting on structural economic reform being hosted by Australia in August 2008. Participants also recognised APEC’s contribution beyond the economic arena and commended the work of member economies in other areas, such as counter-terrorism, food security, cleaner energy and energy efficiency, health initiatives and emergency preparedness.
  12. The Forum welcomed the progress being made in the Doha Round and the commitment shown by WTO Members to working towards achieving a successful outcome in 2008. The recent release of revised negotiating texts has paved the way for senior officials to meet shortly in Geneva, and, assuming that officials make sufficient progress, for WTO Trade Ministers to meet in June 2008.
  13. ASEAN and Australia had an in-depth exchange of views and discussion on various international and regional political, security and economic issues of common interest, including developments in the Asia-Pacific region, international terrorism, the transboundary impact of communicable diseases, particularly HIV and AIDS and avian influenza, the environment and climate change and cooperative mechanisms for combating drug trafficking and trafficking in persons.
  14. The Forum acknowledged the contribution of the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) to confidence building among regional countries and welcomed the opportunity provided by Singapore’s review of ARF achievements to promote an agenda focused more on practical regional security collaboration and to streamline and strengthen ARF working methods. The Forum noted Australia’s interest in the development of the ASEAN Defence Ministers’ Meeting (ADMM) framework, including the ADMM plus process.
  15. ASEAN and Australia reaffirmed the importance of regional cooperation on disaster prevention, preparedness, early warning and emergency response within the contexts of ASEAN and the ARF. The Forum agreed on the need to link disaster management mechanisms among ASEAN Member States with other existing disaster management mechanisms.
  16. The Forum agreed that the next ASEAN-Australia Forum would be held in Singapore at the end of 2009.
  17. Participants in the 22nd ASEAN-Australia Forum expressed appreciation to Australia for the excellent arrangements for the meeting and to those who had traveled to Australia to attend the Forum.