Benigno S. Aquino III
President of the Philippines
During the 1st ASEAN-Australia Summit
[October 30, 2010; Hanoi, Vietnam]
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Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung,
Prime Minister Julia Gillard,
My colleagues in ASEAN,
Let me begin by expressing my appreciation to the Government and people of Viet Nam for hosting this important event.
I would also like to congratulate Her Excellency, Julia Gillard, on her election as Australia’s very first female Prime Minister, heralding a new milestone in Australia’s long democratic history. I am confident that Prime Minister Gillard will continue to work for the enhancement of the already robust ties between ASEAN and Australia. Evidence of the strength of our ties can be seen with the implementation this year of the ASEAN-Australia-New Zealand free trade agreement, the most comprehensive free trade agreement that ASEAN has entered into to date. Not only has Australia entered into this agreement, it has provided financial support to augment the ASEAN Secretariat capacity to implement this deal. Comprehensive as the Free Trade Agreement may be, may I request Australia to study easing non-tariff barriers to trade, such as its phyto-sanitary standards for the importation of tropical fruits.
Another enhancement to our free trade agreement would be the implementation of the master plan on ASEAN Connectivity. Greater physical connectivity between ASEAN countries would further improve inter-regional commerce by making it easier for goods and people to travel throughout the region. I urge Australia to participate more actively in this endeavor.
But Australia’s commitment does not end here. As an active participant in the ASEAN Regional Forum, it is contributing to the promotion of peace and security through dialogue and cooperation in the Asia-Pacific region. Such efforts have enhanced the ability of law enforcement in the region to deal with the threats of terrorism and other trans-national crimes.
In the area of disaster risk management, Australia has been active in developing disaster early warning systems in our part of the world. The urgent need to link disaster management mechanisms within ASEAN and the region is highlighted by the recent calamities that have affected, most notably Indonesia.
With this in mind, I invite Australia to undertake enhanced cooperation with the ASEAN Committee on Disaster Management.
Finally, considering that the level of cooperation between ASEAN and Australia has grown over the three decades of our partnership, the Philippines looks forward to an even higher level of alliance between ASEAN and Australia in the future. I look at this historic Summit today as a first of many future summits to come.