Australia to discuss FTA with ASEAN

Associated Press

Sydney, April 6:

Australia remains committed to striking a free-trade deal with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), the country’s foreign minister said today ahead of a meeting with the organisation’s general secretary next week. Foreign minister Alexander Downer said that while Australia has brokered free-trade agreements with separate ASEAN countries including Singapore and Thailand, a comprehensive deal covering all of ASEAN remains Canberra’s ultimate goal.

“Our long-term vision is the free trade agreement between Australia and ASEAN,” Downer said, “So those sorts of issues will be part of the discussions we’ll be having during his visit here.” ASEAN secretary-general Ong Keng Yong, a former Singaporean diplomat, is expected to meet Downer and trade minister Mark Vaile in Canberra on April 15 to mark the 30th anniversary of Australia establishing links with the 10-member group. Trade is expected to be high on the agenda. The organisation first invited Australia to sit in on meetings in 1974, by making it the group’s first so-called dialogue partner.