Australian support for Grow Asia
Simon Merrifield, Australian Ambassador to ASEAN
Remarks at the Launch of the Grow Asia Partnership
19 April 2015
Thank you for the kind invitation to be here. It’s my great pleasure reconfirm, on behalf of the Australian Government, that Australia will be a founding donor of the Grow Asia partnership between the WEF and ASEAN. As our Ministers for Foreign Affairs and Trade announced this morning, Australia will commit up to $8 million over four years to support the initiative.
We are a proud development partner of ASEAN of 41 years and we have significant experience in working with the ASEAN Secretariat to support economic integration in the region. The Forum’s partnering with ASEAN in this landmark year of ASEAN’s remarkable journey is indeed poignant. So we are very excited about this new endeavour, drawing together key stakeholders to increase the scale and impact of agribusiness in the region.
Agriculture is one of six priority areas for Australia’s aid program – because of its importance as a key source of jobs, of incomes and of exports. Supporting Grow Asia sits neatly with Australia’s broad portfolio of agricultural programs across Southeast Asia and should serve to increase their impact.
Grow Asia will leverage private sector investment and innovation, and importantly, promote women’s economic empowerment. We are pleased that Grow Asia’s work will have an emphasis on increasing women’s formal employment and entrepreneurship in agri-food value chains across the region.
As part of our commitment to Grow Asia, in September Australia will support a roundtable in Ho Chi Minh City, to be co-hosted by the Government of Vietnam and the Grow Asia Secretariat, on Partnering for Inclusive Agribusiness in Southeast Asia. This platform will bring together business, farmers’ associations, researchers, donors and other development organisations, to explore opportunities in scaling inclusive agribusiness.
Innovative public private partnerships are critical to reducing poverty and food insecurity, boosting ag productivity and building foundations for sustainable growth in our region. We look to this partnership to build a new platform, committed to collaborating on key intractable development challenges, and to transform how agribusiness operates in Southeast Asia, emphasising environmental sustainability and social responsibility.
We wish the partners well in taking forward this important work.