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Australia supports regional economic development.



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MEDIA RELEASE MINISTER FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS ALEXANDER DOWNER

AA 05 118 10 December 2005

EMBARGOED UNTIL 2PM AEST

Australia supports regional economic development

Australia will fund $5 million worth of critical research to help ASEAN countries develop closer economic links with other East Asian nations.

This is part of $10.5 million in Australian development assistance to ASEAN that I have announced today in Kuala Lumpur, on the eve of the inaugural East Asian Summit.

In all, four initiatives focusing on trade and economic development will be funded. The $5 million project will fund joint research examining economic integration between ASEAN nations and other East Asian nations - Japan, the Republic of Korea, China, India, New Zealand and Australia. It builds on work already underway through the highly successful ASEAN-Australia Development Cooperation Program.

Australia will also help ASEAN nations build up expertise in free trade negotiations and implementation. This will happen through a new $1.5 million Free Trade Agreement Capacity Building Facility. By supporting ASEAN nations in their efforts to seek greater access to the world’s trade markets, we make a practical contribution to building economic growth and tackling poverty in our region.

We will implement a $2.7 million initiative supporting ASEAN’s East ASEAN Growth Area initiative. Workshops and pilot activities will cover security, private investment, infrastructure development and aid donor coordination.

We will also be providing a $1.3 million contribution to the recently created ASEAN Development Fund.

Australia has worked in partnership with ASEAN for over 30 years. We have now committed more than $50 million to our ASEAN-Australia Development Cooperation Program since 2002.

Media contacts: Chris Kenny (Minister's Office): 0419 206 890 AusAID (Public Affairs): 0417 680 590

Media releases and speeches are available from AusAID via the internet. http://www.ausaid.gov.au/