Published: Sat, March 17, 2018
Economy | By

Australia Special Summit opens

Australia Special Summit opens

As a result, member states are being forced to coordinate internally on significant policy matters regarding North Korea, China's maritime claims and a distracted US. Australia is not a member of the regional grouping, but is hosting the special ASEAN summit, which, analysts said, reflects the country's intention to deepen economic and political ties in Southeast Asia in the face of rising Chinese influence and declining U.S. interest.

Australia has been a dialogue partner of Asean since 1974.

Four Asean countries-Brunei, Malaysia, Singapore and Vietnam-are among the 11 who have signed up to the TPP.

Leaders of ASEAN and Australia will adopt a Sydney Statement, a joint declaration of the summit and a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on anti-terrorism co-operation between ASEAN and the Australian government.

Stressing the importance of countries pushing back against the protectionist tide, PM Lee added that Singapore is pleased with the signing of the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), a trade pact that initially was to include the USA until Mr Trump withdrew from it.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has, however, come under criticism for inviting some controversial regional leaders to his hometown, including Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi and Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen.

Malaysia was a year ago Australia's 9th largest trading partner.

Asean also offers Australia a different route to the goal of an Indo-Pacific free-trade agreement through the proposed Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership.

Themed "Enhancing Regional Security and Prosperity", the event will feature discussions on issues in regional security, economic relations and counter-terrorism measures to tighten ties between Australia and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

"The human rights crisis in Rakhine State, and Myanmar as a whole, must be top of the agenda this weekend in Sydney".

Media reports here said that a joint communique will be issued after the ASEAN-Australia summit which would include statements supporting freedom of navigation and resolving disputes through global law.

Hun Sen invited controversy with his threat to "beat" Australian Cambodians who protest at the summit and was on Friday reportedly taken to task by Mr Turnbull behind closed doors. While Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte, who has angered rights advocates with a crackdown on illegal drugs that has left thousands of mostly poor suspects dead since he took power in 2016, is expected to skip the summit altogether.

A military crackdown in Myanmar's Rakhine State that began in August has seen almost 700,000 of the mainly Muslim Rohingya minority flee to Bangladesh, with pressure mounting on Aung San Suu Kyi after a United Nations rights expert warned this week the situation bore "the hallmarks of genocide".

"Asean has been shamefully silent on what is happening in one of its member states so far".

Turnbull told reporters he would discuss the Rohingya with Suu Kyi when they meet.

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