Regional Cooperation

REGIONAL COOPERATION

Strong security engagement supported through regional and international cooperation

Australia and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN)

Australia became ASEAN’s first Dialogue Partner in 1974. Through nearly five decades of cooperation, Australia has a long‐term commitment to working together with ASEAN member states, including Laos, in enhancing security and prosperity of our shared region.

28 July 2005
Australian Prime Minister John Howard signed a declaration on accession to the ASEAN Treaty of Amity and Cooperation in Southeast Asia in Vientiane on 28 July 2005. Laos represented ASEAN in agreeing to Australia’s accession to the treaty.
2014
Australia became ASEAN’s Strategic Partner in 2014. The Plan of Action to Implement the ASEAN-Australia Strategic Partnership continues to guide implementation of the goals and objectives of the ASEAN-Australia Strategic Partnership.
2016
In 2016, the first ASEAN-Australia Biennial Summit was held in Vientiane, under the Chairmanship of Laos. The Hon Malcolm Turnbull MP, Prime Minister of Australia, and H.E Thongloun Sisoulith, Prime Minister of Lao PDR, attended the inaugural Summit together with other ASEAN leaders.
March 2018
In March 2018, the Hon Malcolm Turnbull MP welcomed the leaders of ASEAN, including Prime Minister Thongloun Sisoulith, to Sydney for the ASEAN-Australia Special Summit – the first time an Australian Prime Minister had hosted a Summit with ASEAN in Australia.
November 2020
In November 2020, Australia and ASEAN agreed to upgrade the tempo of our leaders’ meetings to Annual Summits, marking a new chapter in our Strategic Partnership.
October 2021
At the historic first annual ASEAN-Australia Leaders’ Summit in October 2021, and with support from Laos as ASEAN’s Country Coordinator, ASEAN leaders agreed to establish a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership between ASEAN and Australia, taking our relationship to a higher level.

In response to COVID-19, Australia is supporting ASEAN to play a central role in health security and economic recovery in Southeast Asia. Australia has pivoted our suite of ASEAN-Australia development initiatives to tackle the impacts of the pandemic under our Partnerships for Recovery. It focuses on strengthening health security, maintaining social stability, and stimulating economic recovery.

Defence and Law Enforcement Cooperation

An important first step for Laos was the opening of the Lao-Thai Mekong Friendship Bridge in 1994. Australia’s funding for the design and construction of the bridge was key to facilitating Laos’ trade with Thailand and other neighbouring countries. This bridge set the trend for subsequent friendship bridges which boosted Laos’ trade.

Cooperation in regional architecture

Laos and Australia were founding members of the East Asia Summit (EAS), which is now the premier forum for dialogue on broad strategic, political and economic issues of common interest for the region.

At the 16th East Asia Summit in 2021, Australian Prime Minister the Hon Scott Morrison, Lao Prime Minister, H E Phankham Viphavanh, and other regional leaders discussed key issues including safe, affordable and equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines, health security, the South China Sea, the situations in Myanmar and Hong Kong, the Korean Peninsula, climate change, cybersecurity and countering violent extremism.

EAS leaders adopted three statements in 2021 including on Mental Health Cooperation (proposed by Brunei Darussalam and co-sponsored by Australia). Australia and Laos also cooperate in the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF). These forums promote mutual trust and confidence through enhanced transparency, openness and greater understanding of common security challenges.

In 2012, Laos hosted the biennial Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) Summit in Vientiane, under the theme “Friends for peace, partners for prosperity.” This was the largest international conference ever held in Laos, and significantly boosted Laos’ profile on the international stage.

In November 2021, Prime Minister Morrison and Prime Minister Phankham represented Australia and Laos at the 13th ASEM Summit “Strengthening Multilateralism for Shared Growth”, chaired by Cambodia. Laos and Australia’s continued participation in ASEM enables us to coordinate responses to global opportunities and challenges across Asia and Europe.

Cooperation in the United Nations

Australia and Laos are committed to supporting the role of the United Nations (UN) in helping tackle difficult global issues that no one country can resolve on its own, including human rights, climatechange, terrorism, the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, conflict prevention and international development.

Laos an Australia each participated for the first time in the Universal Periodic Review process of the Human Rights Council in 2010 and 2011 respectively. We continue to cooperate on Human Rights, including through our biennial Human Rights dialogues.

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