Australia unveils A billion investment fund to strengthen ties in Southeast Asia

Australia unveils A$2 billion investment fund to strengthen ties in Southeast Asia

Australia is establishing an A$2 billion ($1.3 billion) investment finance facility to boost investment in Southeast Asia (SEA) as part of several economic initiatives announced at this week’s ASEAN-Australia Special Summit for marking 50 years of the Melbourne Dialogue.

The initiatives include recommendations from Invested: Australia’s Economic Strategy for South East Asia to 2040, launched last year by Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese to deepen Australia’s economic engagement with SEA, according to a media release from the Australian government.

Addressing 100 Australian and SEA CEOs at a summit on March 5, Albanese unveiled the initiatives, which include a A$2 billion fund called the Southeast Asia Investment Finance Facility (SEAIFF), which will be managed by Export Finance Australia. SEAIFF will provide loans, guarantees, capital and insurance for projects designed to boost Australian trade and investment in SEA, particularly in support of the region’s clean energy transition and infrastructure development, the statement said.

A$140 million was allocated over four years to expand the Infrastructure Partnership Program. The program is designed to support efforts to improve regional infrastructure development and attract more diverse and quality infrastructure financing. The program has been running since 2021 and has helped partners accelerate transport connectivity, clean energy transition and telecommunications reforms.

Australia has also appointed 10 “business champions” to facilitate greater trade links between Australia and ASEAN economies. Champions are senior Australian business leaders. According to the australian Macquarie Group CEO Shemera Wickramanayake is one of the champions and has been tasked with exploring opportunities with the Philippines, while ANZ CEO Shane Elliott has been put in charge of Singapore.

Landing pads

Another initiative is the launch of regional technology “Landing Pads” in Jakarta (Indonesia) and in Ho Chi Minh City (Vietnam). The new landing pads will provide on-site support for Australian businesses to increase technology services exports to SEA markets, following the establishment of the initial ‘landing pad’ in Singapore in 2017.

Business visitor visas compared to those from SEA will be extended from three to five years. The 10-year frequent flyer flow will be extended to eligible ASEAN Member States and Timor-Leste.

Albanese said: “Australia’s economic future is in our region. I am proud to lead a government that strengthens our trade and investment ties with SEA, contributing directly to our shared economic prosperity. These initiatives represent further investments in our future and ensure they work with SEA as it continues to grow in economic size and scope.”

He added: “When our region prospers, Australia prospers. Our work internationally delivers results for Australians – for jobs, for our economy and for our people.”

Australia’s two-way investment with ASEAN stands at A$307 billion in 2022. Two-way trade with ASEAN stands at A$178 billion in 2022, accounting for 15% of Australia’s trade, which is larger than its trade with Japan or the United States.

Singaporean Prime Minister He Lee Hsien Loong, who is visiting Australia, said: “I welcome the efforts of Prime Minister Albanese and his government to deepen ties with SEA Asia, including through his SEA Economic Strategy [to] 2040. Singapore has long supported Australia in strengthening its ties with Southeast Asia and will always continue to do so. Our bilateral relationship continues to thrive amid global uncertainty and economic difficulties.”

¬ Haymarket Media Limited. All rights reserved.

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