Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
Australia/Asean - present and future



Download PDFDownload PDF

MINISTER FOR

1 t FOREIGN AFFAIRS

No. M7 2 18 June 1982

NEWS RELEASE THE HON. TONY STREET, M.P.

AUSTRALIA/ASEAN - PRESENT AND FUTURE

. At t a c he d i s t he t e x t of t he address by t he M i n i s t e r

f o r Fo r e i gn A f f a i r s , the Hon. Tony S t r e e t MP, t o t he For ei gn

Cor r e s p o n d e n t s ' Club in Si ngapor e on 18 June.

AUSTRALIA/ASEAN - PRESENT AND FUTURE

RECENTLY I SOUGHT DURING ANOTHER ADDRESS TO DESCRIBE THE WORLD AS I T LOOKED TO A MIDDLE POWER LIKE AUSTRALIA. I DID SO BECAUSE I THOUGHT I T ESSENTIAL THAT AUSTRALIANS HAVE A CLEAR .

UNDERSTANDING OF AUSTRALIA’ S PLACE AND ROLE I N THE WORLD COMMUNITY: WHAT THAT ROLE MEANS TO OUR FOREIGN POLICY AND THE WAY AUSTRALIA'S STATUS RELATES TO THE INTERESTS AND CONCERNS OF OTHERS, RANGING OVER THE UNITED STATES, THE WESTERN ALLIANCE AND THE THIRD WORLD.

AT THAT TIME I SAID THAT THE SPECIAL CIRCUMSTANCES IN WHICH AUSTRALIA HAD TO FRAME ITS FOREIGN POLICY RESULT FROM OUR BEING A . BASICALLY WESTERN NATION LOCATED AMONG THE PREDOMINATLY THIRD WORLD COUNTRIES OF THE A S I A - P A C I F I C REGION. WHILE A NUMBER OF FACTORS

PLACE US SQUARELY WITH THE WESTERN GROUPING OF NATIONS, THE FACTS OF OUR GEOGRAPHY MEAN THAT WE HAVE SPECIAL CHARACTER- I S T I C S AND INTERESTS WHICH DIFFER FROM THOSE OF MOST OTHER WESTERN INDUSTRIALISED COUNTRIES. TODAY I WISH TO SPEAK ABOUT ONE OF THESE

SPECIAL AREAS OF OUR FOREIGN POLICY - AUSTRALIA’ S RELATIONS WITH ASEAN.

BECAUSE OF THE LIMITED TIME AVAILABLE TO ME, I DO NOT PROPOSE TODAY TO SPEND TOO MUCH OF _IT ON THE BROAD RANGE OF OUR RELATIONS

WITH ASEAN AS A GROUP, OR BILATERALLY WITH ITS I N D I V I D U A L MEMBERS. INSTEAD, I INTEND TO CONCENTRATE ON THE AREA OF GROWTH I N OUR RELATIONS - PRESENT AND FUTURE - PARTICULARLY ECONOMIC GROWTH.

BUT FIRST LET ME SPEAK BRIEFLY OF HOW AUSTRALIA SEES ITS INTERESTS IN ASEAN. '

F I R S T , ASEAN AS A WHOLE, AND EACH MEMBER STATE I S IMPORTANT TO AUSTRALIA IN ITS OWN RIGHT. THIS HAS REMAINED A CONSTANT FACTOR I N THE RELATIONSHIP SINCE AUSTRALIA BECAME THE FIRST COUNTRY TO ESTABLISH A DIALOGUE WITH ASEAN IN 1974.

SECOND, THE ASEAN REGION CONSTITUTES ONE OF THE MOST RAPIDLY DEVELOPING AREAS OF THE WORLD. AUSTRALIA'S ECONOMIC INTERESTS I N SOUTH EAST ASIA ARE SUBSTANTIAL AND GROWING AND AUSTRALIA’ S FUTURE WILL BE DIRECTLY AFFECTED BY THE COURSE OF THE '

REGION’ S DEVELOPMENT.

T H I R D , THE ASEAN REGION I S OF STRATEGIC IMPORTANCE TO US. VITAL TRADE AND COMMUNICATIONS LINES CROSS THE REGION AND THE AREA'S SECURITY HOLDS DIRECT IMPLICATIONS FOR AUSTRALIA. '

AUSTRALIA SHARES WITH ASEAN THE OBJECTIVES OF PEACE, ST A BI L IT Y, DEVELOPMENT AND THE EXCLUSION OF GREAT-POWER RIVALRY FROM THE REGION. CAMBODIA, LAOS AND BASE F A CI LI TI E S IN CAM RANH BAY, HOWEVER, REMAIN AS CONSTANT REMINDERS OF THE DIRECT, OR INDIRECT THREAT THROUGH PROXIES, POSED BY THE SOVIET

UNION TO THE REGION.

I N SHORT THE REALITIES OF GEOGRAPHY, HISTORY, CULTURE, TRADE, STRATEGY AND SELF INTEREST ARE THE FORCES WHICH NATURALLY CHANNEL OUR FOREIGN POLICY TOWARDS THE ASEAN AND PACIFIC REGIONS. I DO NOT BELIEVE THESE CIRCUMSTANCES WILL CHANGE IN THE FORESEEABLE

FUTURE.

AT THE END OF THE LAST DECADE I T WAS SAJ D THAT WE HAD ACCOMPLISHED MUCH OF WHAT WE HAD SOUGHT IN THE ASEAN REGION. WE HAD SOUGHT TO BE ACCEPTED AS PART OF THE REGION, ON AN EQUAL BASIS. OUR ACCEPTANCE ON THIS BASIS I S NOW REFLECTED I N THE STRAIGHTFORWARD AND BUSINESSLIKE BASIS WHICH CHARACTERISES OUR DAY TO DAY RELATIONS T H P n i l f i H PFRTnns OF BOTH AGREEMENT AND THE INEVITABLE DISAGREEMENTS.

WE SAID WE SOUGHT POLITICAL STABILITY I N THE ASEAN AREA. TODAY, DESPITE SOME DIFFIC UL T IS S U E S , THERE I S IMPRESSIVE EVIDENCE

THAT CONFLICT WITHIN SOUTH EAST ASIA HAS BEEN SIGNIFICANTLY REDUCED AND THAT INCREASING POLITICAL STABILITY I S ENJOYED BY MOST COUNTRIES OF THE REGION.

WE ALSO SOUGHT REGIONAL ECONOMIC GROWTH. ASEAN'S SUSTAINED, DYNAMIC ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT STANDS IN MARKED CONTRAST TO THE RECENT PERFORMANCE OF THE IN DUS TRIALISED COUNTRIES OF THE WEST.

THE PACE OF ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT IN ASEAN COUNTRIES I S SPECTULAR. DURING THE 7.0 ' S SINGAPORE ACHIEVED AN ANNUAL GROWTH RATE I N REAL PER CAPITA GNP OF 6 . 7 PERCENT, MALAYSIA 5 . 4 PERCENT, INDONESIA 4 . 6 PERCENT, THAILAND 4 . 4 PERCENT AND THE P H I L I P P I N E S 3 . 9 PERCENT.

ASSUMING CURRENT TRENDS CONTINUE, SINGAPORE COULD HAVE A HIGHER PER CAPITA INCOME THAN NEW ZEALAND BEFORE 1 9 8 5 AND PASS AUSTRALIA BY THE YEAR 2 0 0 0 , OTHER ASEAN COUNTRIES, WHILE NOT ACHIEVING SINGAPORE'S PACE OF DEVELOPMENT, HAVE NEVERTHELESS

MAINTAINED IMPRESSIVE GROWTH WITHIN ECONOMIES BUILT ON MORE EXTENSIVE RESOURCE BASES.

AUSTRALIA HAS BENEFITTED FROM THIS GROWTH. TRADE WITH THE REGION INCREASED FIVE-FOLD I N THE LAST 10 YEARS ($2. 9 B I L L I O N IN 1 9 8 0 / 8 1 ) AND ASEAN COUNTRIES NOW CONSTITUTE AUSTRALIA'S FOURTH LARGEST EXPORT MARKET AND THE FOURTH LARGEST SOURCE OF

IMPORTS. SINCE 1 9 7 2 / 7 3 IMPORTS FROM ASEAN COUNTRIES HAVE GROWN BY MORE THAN 30 PERCENT A YEAR WHILE EXPORTS HAVE SHOWN AN ANNUAL INCREASE OF 20 PERCENT.

■ ASEAN ECONOMIES ARE MOVING FASTER THAN OUR OWN, AND THE PERFORMANCE OF I T S I N D I V I D U A L MEMBERS SEEMS LIKELY TO EXCEED THAT OF OTHER DEVELOPING COUNTRIES IN THE YEARS AHEAD. I N THIS AREA, THE INCREASINGLY CO-ORDINATED APPROACH ASEAN COUNTRIES

HAVE AJpjjlPTED ON ECONOMIC AND POLITICAL ISSUES HAVE HAD PARTICULARLY IMPORT^. IMPLICATIONS FOR THEIR COLLECTIVE AND IN DI V ID UA L RELATIONS WITH OTHER COUNTRIES. REMARKABLY, THE ASEAN DYNAMO HAS SUSTAINED ITS ENERGY AT A TIME WHEN THE GENERAL GLOBAL TREND HAS BEEN TOWARDS STAGNATION AND DECLINE. .

FOR THE FIRST TIME IN OYER 20 YEARS, WORLD TRADE DID NOT GROW IN 1981. INDEED, IN S I X OF THE SEVEN MAJOR INDUSTRIAL COUNTRIES, INDUSTRIAL PRODUCTION FELL DURING THE LAST THREE MONTHS.

FEARS HAVE BEEN EXPRESSED THAT UNEMPLOYMENT I N WESTERN

INDUSTRIALISED COUNTRIES COULD BE APPROACHING LEVELS WHICH THREATEN POLITICAL STABILITY. FURTHER,' AGAINST THE BACKGROUND OF ECONOMIC STAGNATION AND STRESS A GROUNDSWELL OF PROTECTIONISM AND DANGER OF RETALIATION HAS EMERGED WHICH SERIOUSLY THREATENS BOTH ECONOMIC RECOVERY IN THE WEST AND SUSTAINED GROWTH WITHIN THE ASEAN REGION ITSELF. .

AUSTRALIA BELIEVES THAT THE EXPERIENCE OF THE 1 9 5 0 'S AND 6 0 ' S WHEN TRADE GREW AT AN ANNUAL RATE OF 10 PERCENT, SHOWS THAT RENEWED GROWTH IN TRADE I S VITAL FOR GLOBAL ECONOMIC RECOVERY.

IT WAS FOR THIS REASON THAT DURING HIS RECENT V I S I T S TO THE UNITED STATES, CANADA, JAPAN AND SOUTH KOREA, AUSTRALIA’ S PRIME MINISTER PROPOSED A BOLD AND FAR-REACHING SET OF I N I T I A T I V E S TO ACCELERATE THE ENGINE OF GLOBAL ECONOMIC GROWTH.

HE PROPOSED TO THE MAJOR WESTERN NATIONS PRIOR TO THE RECENT SUMMIT AT VERSAILLES THAT:

• F I R S T , A FREEZE ON EXISTING LEVELS OF PROTECTION AND NO NEW PROTECTIONIST MEASURES, PARTICULARLY I N NON-TARIFF FORMS,

. SECOND, NO NEW OR INCREASED EXPORT INCENTIVES AND S U B S I D I E S , AND THERE BE AN INTERNATIONAL COMMITMENT TO THE ABOLITION OF EXISTING EXPORT INCENTIVES AND S UB SI DI E S OVER A PERIOD OF FIVE YEARS,

. T H I R D , A COMMITMENT TO SIGN IFICA NT AND PROGRESSIVELY IMPLEMENTED REDUCTIONS IN ALL FORMS OF PROTECTION, IN ACCORDANCE WITH A SET FORMULA TO-BE DETERMINED THROUGH THE MECHANISMS OF THE GENERAL AGREEMENT ON TARIFFS AND TRADE, AND THESE PROPOSALS BE PRIORITY ITEMS AT THE NOVEMBER 1 9 8 2 GATT MINISTERIAL MEETING.

I N PUTTING FORWARD THESE PROPOSALS, WHICH WERE NOT MEANT TO BE EXCLUSIVE, AUSTRALIA REALISED THAT NO COUNTRY COULD AFFORD TO ACT ALONE. ALL MAJOR ECONOMIES, AS WELL AS DEVELOPING COUNTRIES, WOULD HAVE TO PARTICIPATE TO MAKE I T WORK, AND CUTBACKS I N PROTECTION

WOULD HAVE TO BE S IGN IFI CA NT TO BE EFFECTIVE.

WE BELIEVE THAT EXPANDING TRADE OPPORTUNITIES THROUGH THE REMOVAL OF RESTRICTIVE TRADE BARRIERS WILL BENEFIT BOTH AUSTRALIAN AND ASEAN INTERESTS. ___ _

THE RESPONSE TO THE PROPOSALS HAS SO FAR BEEN ENCOURAGING. STRONG INTEREST HAS BEEN SHOWN I N THE UNITED STATES ADMINISTRATION, AND BY THE JAPANESE AND B R IT IS H GOVERNMENTS. THE OECD DIRECTOR- GENERAL HAS STRONGLY ENDORSED THEM, THE SECRETARY-GENERAL OF THE UNITED NATIONS UNDERTOOK TO CARRY THEM WITH HIM DURING HI S V I S I T TO EUROPE, AND THE PRESIDENT OF THE WORLD BANK RECENTLY ARGUED FOR THE ADOPTION OF PROPOSALS OF A SIMILAR KIND. SUPPORT HAS ALSO BEEN FORTHCOMING FROM WITHIN THE COMMONWEALTH, PARTICUARLY FROM THE ■

SECRETARY-GENERAL, MR RAMPHAL."

AT VERSAILLES, THE THRUST OF THE PROPOSALS WAS REFLECTED I N - THE SU MMIT'S BROAD COMMITMENT TO RESIST PROTECTIONIST PRESSSURES AND TRADE-DISTORTING PRACTICES, AND THE RESOLUTION TO COMPLETE THE WORK OF THE TOKYO ROUND AND IMPROVE THE CAPACITY OF THE GATT TO SOLVE

CURRENT AND FUTURE TRADE PROBLEMS.

WE BELIEVE THAT IT I S ESSENTIAL TO TRANSLATE THESE AND SIMILAR PROPOSALS INTO A MORE CONCRETE FORM AND CARRY THEM BEYOND VERSAILLES INTO THE FORTHCOMING MINISTERAL MEETING OF THE GATT.

* .

I T WAS F O R T H I S R E A S O N T H A T I WAS F U R T H E R E N C O U R A G E D BY

T HE R E S P O N S E OF T H E A S E A N F O R E I G N M I N I S T E R S TO T HE A U S T R A L I A N

P R O P O S A L S . T H E Y SAW T HEM AS A C O N S T R U C T I V E C O N T R I B U T I O N TO OUR J O I N T

E F F O R T S TO R E V I T A L I S E WOR L D T R A D E . I B E L I E V E T H I S I S A S I G N I F I C A N T

D E V E L O P M E N T C O M I N G AS I T D O E S F R OM A D Y N A M I C G R O U P OF C O U N T R I E S WHOSE

F U T U R E A N D GROWT H D E P E N D ON A V I G O R O U S A N D E X P A N D I N G WORL D E C O N O MY .

A U S T R A L I A HA S A L R E A D Y MADE S I G N I F I C A N T MOV E ME NT T O WA R D S

LOWER P R O T E C T I O N L E V E L S . I N 1 9 7 8 - 8 0 A B O U T 7 0 P E R C E N T OF

A U S T R A L I A N I M P O R T S WERE AT N O N - P R O T E C T I V E R A T E S OF D U T Y , A ND

T HE AVERAGE N O M I N A L RATE OF A S S I S T A N C E A G A I N S T I M P O R T S OF

MA NUF A CT U RE S I N A L L MA J OR F O R M S ( I N C L U D I N G T A R I F F S ,

Q U O T A S A ND B O U N T I E S ) HA S B E E N R E D U C E D F ROM 2 4 P E R C E N T I N

1 9 6 8 - 6 9 TO 1 4 P E R C E N T I N 1 9 8 0 - 8 1 - A R E D U C T I O N OF OVER 4 0

P E R C E N T . I N T H E CA S E OF A S E A N , 8 8 P E R C E N T OF I M P O R T S E N T E R E D DUT Y

F REE OR WERE S U B J E C T TO D E V E L O P I N G C O U N T R Y P R E F E R E N T I A L RA T E S

OF D U T Y I N 1 9 7 9 / 8 0 .

AUSTRALIA I S PREPARED TO DO MORE, IF THE SORT OF PROPOSALS I HAVE OUTLINED WERE WIDELY ENDORSED AND ADOPTED. I N TH IS EVENT, AUSTRALIA’ S SUPPORT WOULD BE IMMEDIATELY FORTHCOMING. .

I T I S OUR DIRECT EXPERIENCE THAT ALL NATIONS, PARTICULARLY THE . DEVELOPING COUNTRIES, DEPEND UPON THE FORTUNES OF THE MAJOR WESTERN ECONOMIES. WE ALSO ACCEPT A CONNECTION BETWEEN MASS POVERTY AND INTERNATIONAL IN S T A B I L IT Y . "

WITHOUT INTERNATIONAL ECONOMIC REVIVAL THE PROSPECTS FOR PROGRESS IN THE NORTH-SOUTH DIALOGUE, INCLUDING LAUNCHING GLOBAL NEGOTIATIONS, WILL BE LIMITED. THIS WOULD BE OF CONCERN TO AUSTRALIA AND ASEAN A LI K E , SINCE OUR. APPROACH ON THIS ISSUE HAS BEEN TO TRY AND ACHIEVE CONSENSUS BETWEEN THE DEVELOPED AND DEVELOPING NATIONS. WE BELIEVE THAT A REAL OPPRTUNITY TO COMMENCE GLOBAL NEGOTIATIONS HAS EMERGED FROM VERSAILLES, AND THAT FAILURE TO GRASP THIS OPPORTUNITY NOW WOULD REPRESENT A SERIOUS SETBACK FOR EARLY PROGRESS ON NORTH- SOUTH ISSUES.

LOOKING MORE SPECIFICALLY TOWARDS ASEAN, WHAT IMPACT WILL RECENT DEVELOPMENTS THERE HAVE ON THE FUTURE FORM OF AUSTRALIA’ S RELATIONS WITH ASEAN?

F I R S T , I T SEEMS LIKELY THAT IF INCREASING ECONOMIC GROWTH I S SUSTAINED ASEAN COUNTRIES WILL I N TIME LOOK LESS TO AUSTRALIA FOR THE PROVISION OF BASIC ECONOMIC ASSISTANCE.

I WOULD EXPECT, HOWEVER, THAT SOME TYPES OF ASSISTANCE - PARTICULARLY INFRASTRUCTURE DEVELOPMENT AND ENERGY SUPPLIES - WILL REMAIN RELEVANT TO ASEAN’ S NEEDS, AND THAT WE WILL REMAIN A MAJOR SOURCE OF RAW MATERIALS, SPECIALIST EDUCATION, TRAINING AND ADVICE. THE ASEAN-AUSTRALIA ECONOMIC CO-OPERATION

PROGRAM WILL BECOME INCREASINGLY IMPORTANT.

SECOND, SUSTAINED REGIONAL ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT WILL CONTINUE TO PROVIDE GROWTH OPPORTUNITIES FOR AUSTRALIAN ; B US INE SS , AND I N TURN FOR INCREASING SOUTH EAST ASIAN INVESTMENT IN AUSTRALIA - PARTICULARLY IN THE RESOURCE AND ENERGY FIELDS.

I SEE GROWING OPPORTUNITIES FOR GREATER CO-OPERATION BETWEEN THE ASEAN AND THE AUSTRALIAN BUSINESS COMMUNITIES. ■ THE ASEAN-AUSTRALIA BUSINESS COUNCIL I S A GOOD EXAMPLE.

CURRENTLY CONSIDERATION I S BEING GIVEN TO A PROGRAM OF PRIVATE SECTOR EXECUTIVE EXCHANGES BETWEEN AUSTRALIA AND ASEAN COUNTRIES.

THE RECENT DECISION IN BANGKOK TO CONTINUE THE PROCESS OF

CAREFUL AND DELIBERATE EXAMINATION OF THE PACIFIC C Ο Μ M U NITY CONCEPT- IN PARTICULAR HOLDS OUT THE PROSPECT OF INCREASED ECONOMIC INTERDEPENDENCE AND BENEFIT FOR ASEAN AND AUSTRALIA ALIKE.

T HI RD , TRADE ISSUES WILL CONTINUE TO FIGURE PROMINENTLY IN OUR RELATIONS.

FOURTH , DIFFERENCES IN CULTURAL AND POLITICAL VALUES WILL NOT DISAPPEAR OVERNIGHT.

FOR OUR PART, WE WILL WORK PATIENTLY TO OBTAIN GREATER UNDERSTANDING OF AUSTRALIAN VALUES AND IN ST IT UT IO N S WHILE SEEKING TO EXPLAIN THAT OUR APPROACH I S BASED, NOT ON AN INCL INA TION TO INTERFERE, BUT ON WHAT WE SEE AS THE VALUE OF

DEMOCRATIC I NS TI TUT ION S AND OPEN SOCIAL SYSTEMS WHICH, I N OUR EXPERIENCE, CONTRIBUTE TO IN D I V I D U A L AND NATIONAL WELL-BEING.

AUSTRALIA I S INCREASINGLY BECOMING A TRULY MULTICULTURAL SOCIETY. A GROWING ASIAN COMMUNITY, PRIVATE AND ASSISTED STUDENT PROGRAMS WITHIN AUSTRALIA AND THE SUBSTANTIAL GROWTH I N INTER-REGIONAL TOURISM ALL CONTRIBUTE TO THE BREAKING DOWN OF CULTURAL BARRIERS.

F I F T H , WE WOULD EXPECT AUSTRALIA’ S CURRENT DEFENCE CO-OPERATION WITH IND IV ID UA L ASEAN COUNTRIES TO BE MAINTAINED.

I N SHORT, THE FUTURE FOR AUSTRALIA’ S RELATIONS WITH THE ASEAN REGION I S ALIVE WITH CHALLENGE. A MAJOR TASK FOR AUSTRALIA'S DIP-L&MACY - FOR THE PRESENT AND THE FUTURE - WILL BE TO TRANSLATE THOSE CHALLENGES INTO JOINT ACHIEVEMENTS.