Australia, ASEAN bloc stand against protectionism


SYDNEY: Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and his Singaporean counterpart Lee Hsien Loong took a stand against protectionism at the end of an Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC)-Australia special summit in Sydney on Sunday.


Turnbull reassured that Australia along with 10-nation ASEAN bloc would expand trade and not take the same route as Trump.

"As I observed in our meeting today. there are no protectionists around the ASEAN-Australia summit table," The Sydney Morning Herald quoted Turnbull as saying.

While, Mr Lee said, "We have committed to do our best to. send a clear signal to ASEAN external partners and all other countries of our commitment to promote international trade [and] oppose protectionism."

The two leaders also unanimously agreed to share counter-terrorism intelligence and capabilities between Australia and ASEAN nations.

However, the summit which was held at the International Convention Centre at Darling Harbour, indicated that APEC was strained by alleged human rights abuses by some of its member nations.

ASEAN members avoid public criticism when it comes to the domestic affairs of their partners but during a counter terrorism summit on Saturday Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak spoke about the suffering of displaced Rohingyas - 700,000 of whom have fled fearing persecution in Myanmar.

According to The Sydney Morning Herald, Razak said the issue of Rohingyas was no longer "a purely domestic matter".

Lee opined that Rohingya issue was a complex matter and mention that the ASEAN nations were in talks with Myanmar to provide aid to the "affected communities.

On Friday, during a press conference, Turnbull's reply to a question on human rights abuses by ASEAN members, he said that "issues of every description" would be discussed in regard to the same.

Duterte's absence from the summit sparked protests, but Turnbull assured that it did not hamper talks as he had been well represented by his foreign secretary.

Turnbull also mentioned that Aung San Suu Kyi also addressed her concerns over the Rohingya issue.

The Sydney Morning Herald reported that although the references in regard to the human rights abuses remained oblique in the summit's communique, 'Sydney Declaration', the member nations agreed upon the shared commitment of "peaceful resolution of disputes" to "mutual respect for the principles of sovereignty, territorial integrity, equality, non-interference and political independence of all nations".

Source: ANI

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