The 6th ASEAN-Australia Joint Cooperation Committee (JCC) meeting was held on June 7 2016 at the ASEAN Secretariat in Jakarta. It was co-chaired by H.E. Simon Philip Merrifield, Ambassador of Australia to ASEAN, and H.E. U Min Lwin, Permanent Representative of Myanmar to ASEAN. Members and representatives of the Committee of Permanent Representative to ASEAN (CPR) attended alongside the ASEAN Secretariat. Strong commitment to further strengthening strategic partnership was reaffirmed on the back of an acknowledgement of progress to date. Instruments of cooperation highlighted included:
- The ASEAN-Australia Plan of Action (2015-2019).
- The ASEAN-Australia-New Zealand Free Trade Agreement (AANZFTA)—including the Economic Cooperation support Programme which has been extended to run until June 2018.
- The ASEAN-Australia Development Cooperation Programme Phase II (AADCP II) which Austrade has extended to run until December 2019, pledging a financial contribution of up to AUD 57.8 million.
- The Australia-ASEAN Council (AAC) which, following establishment in Australia last year, is targeting further development of institutional linkages in education, arts and culture (building on existing programs such as Australia’s regional scholarship allocation that benefits over 3000 ASEAN students each year).
- Australian promotion of business opportunities in ASEAN, for example through DFAT’s 2015 publication: “Why ASEAN and Why Now?”.
Flagging the ASEAN Community Vision 2025 policy outlook, prioritization of the so-called three pillars, as well as what is referred to as the “ASEAN centrality” principle—the direction of forthcoming ASEAN-Australia engagement looked to deepening Australian cooperation with key ASEAN led regional mechanisms. Specifically the mechanisms identified were: East Asia Summit (EAS); ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF); ASEAN Defence Ministers’ Meeting Plus (ADMM-Plus); and the Expanded ASEAN Maritime Forum (EAMF). The meeting also looked forward to the first biennial ASEAN-Australia Leaders’ Summit in September 2016 (to be held in Vientiane, Lao PDR).