Australia has decided to provide US$16 million to help bolster ASEAN Member States on health security, stability and economic recovery as it laid out a plan on cooperation with ASEAN countries to combat COVID-19 and to help chart a course towards mutual economic recovery.
The assistance was announced by Australian Foreign Minister Senator the Hon Marise Payne during a Special ASEAN-Australia Foreign Ministers’ Meeting on COVID-19 held via Videoconference yesterday.
According to the Australian Embassy’s press release, health security is a new initiative focused on reducing the risks of pandemics through increased institutional linkages and collaboration; improved hygiene practices at wet markets; and additional scholarships and fellowships in Australia.
Stability, it said, is a new ASEAN-Australia Political-Security Partnership, which will strengthen responses to shared challenges such as maritime security, cyber security, transnational crime, and women peace and security; in addition to further support to enable vulnerable migrant worker communities to access safe migration pathways.
The press release also stated that economic recovery is an extension of the successful ASEAN-Australia Digital Trade Standards initiative to ensure that digital trade helps drive the region’s economic recovery through to 2022; as well as support to the ASEAN Post-Pandemic Recovery Plan which emphasises a collective, region-wide approach.
During the meeting, Senator Payne reinforced Australia’s shared commitment to maintaining an open, peaceful, stable and rules-based region, the principles of ASEAN’s Outlook on the Indo-Pacific and fighting disinformation in the region.
“Australia’s health and economy is closely tied with our Southeast Asian partners, and ASEAN continues to play a vital role in responding to COVID-19,” said the press release.
This package adds to Australia’s wide-ranging Strategic Partnership with ASEAN, as well as the substantial bilateral work already underway across the region, including through Australia’s bilateral development partnership with Cambodia, it added.
“We all have a stake in the security of our region and cooperation is essential if we are to avoid a prolonged health and economic crisis,” H.E. Pablo Kang, Australian Ambassador to Cambodia, said in the press release. “Cambodia will be able to access this new package of regional initiatives for ASEAN, which will complement the work we are already doing through our bilateral development partnership to aid Cambodia’s response to COVID-19.”
For Australia and Cambodia, and for our shared region, addressing these unprecedented challenges will require an unprecedented level of international cooperation, he underlined, continuing, “Rather than turning inward, we will stand together through this pandemic, as a longstanding Dialogue Partner of ASEAN, just as we have in past crises.”
Source: Agency Kampuchea Press