Executive Briefing | Ambassador Jane Duke
Australia's Ambassador to ASEAN
SYDNEY, 20 June
“$100million for two-way trade, Australia has a lot to offer ASEAN,” said Ambassador to ASEAN, Jane Duke, at an Asia Society Australia and Norton Rose Fulbright Executive Briefing luncheon last week in Sydney.
With the rise of China and India, territorial disputes, North Korea’s nuclear threat, old animosities and new disruptions caused by the digital revolution, forced migration and rival visions for the regional order, the Indo-Pacific is becoming more competitive economically and contested strategically. Speaking at a time of regional flux, Ambassador Duke asserted the critical need for Australia and ASEAN to work together to navigate these challenges.
The talk followed-up on the historic Australia-ASEAN Special Summit in Sydney earlier this year. Summed up in the Sydney Declaration, Ambassador Duke reported on 15 government initiatives spanning across security, cyber, maritime, education, scholarship, health, defence, and business that resulted from the summit. She projected these outcomes and recommendations to significantly advance Australia’s partnership with ASEAN.
The Ambassador spoke of upcoming opportunities and sustained Australian engagement with ASEAN. This includes scheduled visits from Prime Minister Turnbull, and Ministers Bishop, Ciobo, and Payne, to Singapore before the end of the year. Additionally the Memorandum of Understanding between Australia and ASEAN signed at the summit by Minister Julie Bishop will provide an opportunity for ongoing cooperation on counter terrorism.
Although Ambassador Duke was pleased with the state of government engagement, she was concerned that Australian business has stayed on the periphery of ASEAN engagement.
“Whilst there are clear pathways at a government to government level, we need to establish the same for business to business.”
She stressed the multitude of business opportunities that ASEAN delivers and the pressing need to unlock these within Australia.
“We’ve got to keep up, got to engage” said the Ambassador.
“We are competing with ASEAN companies that have far greater economies, but our advantage is that Australia is trusted, we need to use our edge.”
Asia Society Australia’s Executive Briefings are a curated series of meetings presented by diplomats, business leaders and subject matter experts from Asia and Australia. Designed to offer a deep dive into the critical issues of the day, to an audience of senior executives from the business, political, educational and cultural institutions that make up the Asia Society network.
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