OECD Southeast Asia Ministerial Forum

14 November 2023

I also want to speak about a recent opportunity I had to attend the OECD Southeast Asia Ministerial Forum, which was held in Hanoi, Vietnam, over 26 and 27 October. It was my great honour to represent the trade minister, Senator Don Farrell, in Hanoi for this important forum which Australia co-hosted with Vietnam. The forum was an important chance for nations in our region to meet and discuss ways to increase our economic ties. The theme of the event was Sustainable and Quality Investment. For the OECD, it was an important opportunity to engage with a region which historically has been ignored. Of the 38 OECD member countries, only two—Japan and South Korea—are geographically located in Asia. For a long time, we've seen the inclusion of South-East Asian nations in the OECD as a key objective. It's an important way for us to build economic ties with our neighbours and increase stability in the region. That's why we strongly support the decision of Indonesia to seek to accede to the OECD. Accession is not an easy process, but Australia will be behind Indonesia every step of the way.

The visit also came at an important time in the Australia-Vietnam relationship. In 2023 we marked 50 years of diplomatic relations with Vietnam, and today that relationship has never been stronger. Our bilateral ties with Vietnam continue to go from strength to strength as we move towards the finalisation of a comprehensive strategic partnership. It was a privilege to meet with the Vice Minister for Foreign Affairs, Nguyen Minh Hang, to talk about what comes next for our relationship, and it was an honour to open the session alongside Deputy Prime Minister Tran Luu Quang, Minister for Foreign Affairs Bui Thanh Son, and OECD Secretary-General Mathias Cormann. I was also pleased to be able to meet with the UK Minister for the Indo-Pacific, Anne-Marie Trevelyan, for a bilateral meeting. I give special thanks to the Australian officials from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, who put in so much work to make the forum a success, to the embassy in Vietnam, and to our Ambassador to Vietnam, Andrew Goledzinowski, who went to so much work to make our visit run smoothly and to brief us. It was really an incredible experience to be there, to visit Hanoi and to able to engage in so many important meetings at an important time for the OECD and our region.