AustCham ASEAN Business Survey Launch
Ms Jane Duke, Australian Ambassador to ASEAN
15 March 2018, Sydney, Australia
I would like to welcome everyone here tonight.
Firstly I’d like to acknowledge the Gadigal people who are the traditional custodians of this land upon which we’ve gathered.
I would also like to pay respect to Elders both past and present of the Eora nation and extend that respect to other Aboriginal people present.
I am honoured to open this important event. We are joined tonight by a number of special guests including [Minister Ciobo, Australia’s Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment; Minister Blair, New South Wales Minister for Primary Industries, Minister for Regional Water, and Minister for Trade and Industry; the ASEAN Business Advisory Council (including Chair Dr Robert Yap and ASEAN Business Council President Tan Sri Munir), the Board of AustCham ASEAN including President Fraser Thompson, the Australia-ASEAN Business Council including President Eleanor Mak; Dr Stephanie Fahey, the CEO of Austrade; and my colleagues, Australia’s Ambassadors to South East Asian countries.]
This is an historic week for ASEAN-Australia relations.
ASEAN Leaders will arrive over the next couple of days for their first ever Summit in Australia. The Special Summit is an opportunity to further strengthen Australia’s partnership with ASEAN, unlock new opportunities for trade and investment, and address common security challenges.
The Summit has been a catalyst for many lead in events, drawing together our diverse business, youth, education, university and think-tank communities.
The Special Summit will have a substantial business component including a CEO Forum, SME Conference and Women in Business Breakfast. Tonight’s event, in advance of the business Summit program, is also an opportunity to mark the significant progress in Australia’s private sector engagement with ASEAN over the last year.
2017 was a milestone year for Australian business engagement in ASEAN. In ASEAN’s 50th anniversary year, two Australian business chambers were established with a regional focus. AustCham ASEAN, which is a confederation of the various AustCham organisations in the region, and the Australia-ASEAN Business Council (AABC), based in Brisbane.
Regional chambers like these can help support new businesses by sharing experiences and providing information and networks critical to working in the region.
In September last year, AustCham ASEAN and the AABC provided, for the first time in nearly 15 years, direct feedback from Australian businesses to ASEAN Economic Ministers at the annual meeting of ministers from ASEAN, Australia and New Zealand. As a result of this engagement, ASEAN Ministers requested that feedback from Australian businesses become a regular part of the meeting agenda. This is an important development to bring Australia on par with ASEAN’s other key trading partners and it reflects the increased recognition in business circles of the exciting opportunities in ASEAN.
Since AustCham ASEAN was formally launched by Prime Minister Turnbull last year, I have participated in a range of panel events in Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand to unpack the findings of AustCham’s business surveys and, more broadly, discuss opportunities for Australian Business in the region. Our businesses are optimistic and are bullish about their prospects. They want to do more, know more and encourage others to enter the market.
What is remarkable to me when I travel around the region is how dynamic the its people are and their strong entrepreneurial spirit. From the “Gojeks” on the streets of Jakarta to the young entrepreneur from Brunei who recycles plastic waste into mosquito nets; innovative ideas abound.
The launch tonight of the 2018 Doing Business in ASEAN Survey not only reflects the views of Australian business; it highlights new opportunities to deepen collaboration. I applaud AustCham ASEAN for this survey and its work throughout the year.
I would also like to formally welcome the ASEAN Business Advisory Council (ABAC) to Sydney; the first time ABAC has met outside ASEAN. I hope that I have the chance to meet with you all personally and hear about the ABAC+ Australia Exclusive Dialogue with AustCham ASEAN and AABC that was held today and your objectives for this week’s Business Summit events.
I hope you all have valuable engagements this week at the various business events that precede this historic ASEAN-Australia Special Summit, and I look forward to hearing insights from tonight’s important speakers on how to further strengthen ASEAN-Australia trade and economic ties.