Tour of ASEAN NATION: Foreign Minister Julie Bishop Talks Plan for ASEAN Relations

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By Athena Yenko | February 18, 2014 2:48 PM EST

Tour of ASEAN Nations, Feb 16-21: Minister for Foreign Affairs Julie Bishop talks about plans that will fortify Australia's relation to ASEAN nations.

In an official media statement by Ms Bishop, she said that her tour of ASEAN nation - Malaysia, Vietnam, the Philippines and Cambodia -  aimed primarily to prioritise trade, investment, regional security and education partnership.

Her tour coincided with the 40th year of Australia-ASEAN relations. She will convene with the nations' government and business leaders to speak about  joint trade and investment opportunities.

Malaysia

In Malaysia, Australia's ninth largest trading partner, Ms Bishop will meet with alumni of the former Menzies Government's Colombo Plan program. The meeting aims to open discussion about opportunities and discuss opportunities for Australian students to study and gain work experience in businesses abroad under the Coalition Government's $100m New Colombo Plan.

The Colombo Plan is designed to support Malaysia's economic reform agenda, the 'Towards 2020' Undergraduate Scholarships will assist Malaysian undergraduates to study at Australian universities located in Malaysia. The Executive Awards will support Malaysian civil servants to undertake professional development opportunities in Australia. The five-year Scholarships Program will build further on the strong people-to-people links that form the foundation of the Australia-Malaysia relationship.

Consequently, inaugural recipients of Undergraduate Scholarships and Executive Awards under the new Australia-Malaysia 'Towards 2020' Scholarship Program were announced.

The recipients are:

  • Mrs Nastassia binti Affendi, who will study a Bachelor of Commerce at Swinburne University of Technology Sarawak Campus, and
  • Mr Lee Siang Hin, who will study a Bachelor of Engineering at Monash University Malaysia.

The two inaugural Executive Award recipients are:

  • Dr Masria binti Mustafa, who will attend conferences and undertake courses related to traffic management and crash investigations, and
  • Mr Mohd Ridzwan Shahabudin, who will attend the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade's International Participation in Graduate Training Program.

Vietnam

Ms Bishop will meet senior government officials in Hanoi to finally move forward with the agreed Australia's economic diplomacy agenda. She will also visit the Australia-Vietnam Joint Trans-National Crime Centre in Ho Chi Minh City.

Furthermore, her visit in Vietnam will involve meeting with women's group supported by the Australian government. She will discuss opportunities to promote women's empowerment and foster economic development through sustainable farming systems.

Philippines

Ms Bishop will be visiting Manila, Philippines with Trade and Investment Minister Andrew Robb. Together with an Australian business delegation they will attend the Philippines-Australia Ministerial Meeting on 20-21 February.

She will also discuss education and tourism cooperation with Australia.

Her visit to the Philippines coincided with a launch event celebrating the 40th Anniversary of Australia-ASEAN relations.

Cambodia

Ms Bishop will discuss key bilateral priorities including development assistance program with Cambodia's chief government officials.

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