Prime Minister meets with key ASEAN and East Asia Summit partners

Prime Minister

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern today attended the ASEAN-New Zealand Commemorative Summit and discussed with Leaders a range of shared challenges facing the Indo-Pacific region, including:

  • The ongoing management of the COVID-19 pandemic;
  • The importance of working collectively to accelerate economic recovery; and
  • Exploring further opportunities for partners to work more closely on health, economic and security issues facing the region.

The ASEAN-New Zealand Commemorative Summit, which was held digitally, also marked the 45th anniversary of the diplomatic partnership between the two parties.

“New Zealand and ASEAN share a strong legacy of working together to advance peace and prosperity in our region. ASEAN is our fourth largest trading partner, a crucial defence and security partner, and a critical strategic hub that connects us to Asia and the rest of the world,” Jacinda Ardern said.

“Our partnership will play an important role as our countries work together to support global efforts to manage the pandemic and ensure fair and equitable access to safe vaccines, and drive economic recovery through maintaining open markets for our exporters and resilient supply chains,” Jacinda Ardern said.

The Prime Minister, through a joint statement with Leaders, reaffirmed New Zealand’s commitment to strengthening its partnership with ASEAN under the themes of “Peace, Prosperity, People and Planet”, which will promote cooperation in areas such as sustainability and climate change, trade facilitation and digital commerce.

Later tonight the Prime Minister will also digitally attend the East Asia Summit (EAS), the region’s premier forum for leaders to discuss pressing strategic issues facing our region.

“The meeting will be a good chance to exchange views with other leaders on the pandemic and issues such as the South China Sea and climate change,” Jacinda Ardern said.

Note to editors:

  • The Joint Statement released by the Prime Ministers at the ASEAN-New Zealand Commemorative Summit is included below.
  • The ASEAN-New Zealand Commemorative Summit is a five-yearly meeting between Heads of State/Government of ASEAN and New Zealand.
  • The ASEAN has 10 members (Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Viet Nam).
  • Established in 2005, the East Asia Summit is now the premier Leaders political and security forum in the Indo-Pacific. Leaders meet annually and discuss issues and emerging challenges that concern them the most.
  • The East Asia Summit comprises ASEAN plus eight dialogue partners (Australia, China, India, Japan, New Zealand, South Korea, Russia, US).

Joint ASEAN-New Zealand Leaders’ Vision Statement on the 45th Anniversary of ASEAN-New Zealand Dialogue Relations:  A Legacy of Partnership, A Future Together

1. We, the Heads of State/Government of the Member States of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and New Zealand, met via videoconference on 14 November 2020, under Viet Nam’s 2020 ASEAN Chairmanship, to commemorate the 45th Anniversary of ASEAN-New Zealand Dialogue Relations.

2. The ASEAN-New Zealand Leaders’ Commemorative Summit marks an important milestone in the ASEAN-New Zealand Strategic Partnership, as both sides share a strong legacy, and have achieved much over the past 45 years across a wide range of areas, including political, security, trade and economic, people-to-people, and development cooperation.

3. We reaffirm our mutual respect for the principles of sovereignty, territorial integrity, equality, and independence, as espoused in the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation in Southeast Asia (TAC), and reiterate our determination to uphold the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations and respect for international law.

4. We share deep concern over the COVID-19 pandemic, which has affected the lives of people as well as economies around the world. Our thoughts are with all those who have lost loved ones or who are suffering from the socio-economic impacts of the pandemic. We recognise the heroic efforts of medical professionals, healthcare workers, and other front-liners around the world, and dedicate ourselves to close partnership in pursuit of recovery.

5. We acknowledge the progress achieved in the full implementation of the Plan of Action to Implement the Joint Statement for ASEAN-New Zealand Strategic Partnership (2016– 2020), and its two key strategies, namely the “People Strategy” and the “Prosperity Strategy”, which have enhanced cooperation and contributed towards the realisation of the ASEAN Community Vision 2025 and its Blueprints.

6. As we look to the future, we underscore the importance of the ASEAN-New Zealand strategic partnership, and the principle of genuine, mutually-beneficial cooperation that has underpinned our dialogue relations for the past 45 years. In this context, we reaffirm our commitment to upholding a stable, rules-based international order; maintaining an open and inclusive region where people enjoy human rights and fundamental freedoms; reinforcing the multilateral trading system through deeper and more ambitious economic integration; and building on the region’s sustainable development agenda with an emphasis on environmental resilience and collective action which addresses climate change. To this end, we will redouble our collective efforts to achieve the ASEAN Community Vision 2025 – a year which will mark New Zealand’s fiftieth anniversary of dialogue partnership with ASEAN.

7. Consequently, we welcome efforts toward the realization of the Plan of Action to Implement the ASEAN-New Zealand Strategic Partnership (2021-2025), focusing cooperation under the four key themes of “Peace, Prosperity, People, and Planet”, which are in line with the three pillars of ASEAN Community, namely Political-Security Community, Economic Community, and Socio-Cultural Community, to reflect ASEAN and New Zealand’s ambition to strengthen and deepen our Strategic Partnership.


8. We reaffirm our shared commitment to maintaining and promoting peace, security and stability in the region, as well as to the peaceful resolution of disputes, including full respect for legal and diplomatic processes. We further reaffirm our dedication to an open, transparent, inclusive, and rules-based regional architecture, which respects the sovereignty of all states regardless of their size; which is based on key principles such as adherence to international law and open markets; and which is built on ASEAN-led mechanisms. We therefore reiterate our determination to promote shared values and norms including those enshrined in the ASEAN Charter, the Charter of the United Nations, and the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation in Southeast Asia.

9. In recognition of the vital role of regional and multilateral institutions, we therefore reiterate the importance of regular and comprehensive ASEAN-New Zealand dialogue and cooperation, as well as engagement in ASEAN-led frameworks such as the East Asia Summit (EAS), the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF), and the ASEAN Defence Ministers’ Meeting Plus (ADMM-Plus). We reaffirm our interest in exploring possible cooperation in line with the ASEAN Outlook on the Indo-Pacific and New Zealand’s priorities for the Indo-Pacific, in order to contribute to the maintenance of peace, freedom, and prosperity in the region and beyond.

10. In light of our shared goal of regional peace and stability, we will continue to work together on confidence-building and preventive diplomacy, including through the ASEAN Regional Forum process, and to address regional security challenges, including through cooperation to promote cybersecurity, combat transnational organised crime and cybercrime, strengthen border security, counter terrorism, and promote social inclusiveness to prevent violent extremism. We recognise New Zealand’s long-standing support to demining activities in the region, including through regional mechanisms. We also welcome opportunities to share expertise and build capacity of defence officials.

11. We reaffirm our mutual dedication to disarmament, arms control and non-proliferation of nuclear weapons, and in light of its fiftieth anniversary, we recognise the instrumental role of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty in supporting international efforts to curtail the threats posed by nuclear weapons and their proliferation. In this context, we note the opportunities for cooperation between ASEAN and New Zealand on the South East Asia Nuclear Weapons-Free Zone (SEANWFZ) and the South Pacific Nuclear Free Zone.

12. We reiterate the importance of promoting maritime security and safety, freedom of navigation and overflight, unimpeded commerce, mutual trust and confidence, the exercise of self-restraint, the non-use of force or of the threat to use force, and the resolution of disputes by peaceful means, in accordance with universally recognised principles of international law, including the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), and compliance with the relevant Standards and Recommended Practices of the International Civil Aviation Organization and relevant instruments and conventions of the International Maritime Organization. 


13. We note the strong trade and business links between ASEAN countries and New Zealand, with two-way trade between ASEAN and New Zealand growing by almost two-thirds in the past ten years. These links will stand us in good stead in mitigating the economic impact of the pandemic. We therefore affirm our determination to work together to advance regional economic integration, resist all forms of protectionism, and ensure resilient supply chains that facilitate the unimpeded flow of goods and services. As highly trade-oriented economies, we rededicate ourselves to supporting the rules-based multilateral trading system, which underpins our region’s economic growth and sustainable development, and to ensuring that the WTO is forward-looking, reformed, and well-positioned to tackle 21st century trade challenges.

14. We therefore welcome the decision to officially launch negotiations to upgrade the ASEAN-Australia-New Zealand Free Trade Agreement in early 2021, to ensure it remains a visionary and precedent-setting agreement, which delivers tangible benefits to our businesses, consumers, and peoples, and which demonstrates the genuine economic partnership between ASEAN and New Zealand. We also look forward to the signing and implementation of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement, which will facilitate stronger trade and business ties, and support regional economic integration efforts.

15. To this end, we will redouble our efforts to deepen practical economic cooperation, improve business linkages, and support human capital development in preparation for the Fourth Industrial Revolution, noting the importance of science, technology and innovation for 21st century economies. We therefore welcome New Zealand’s interest in supporting ASEAN’s post-pandemic economic recovery efforts, taking into account the ASEAN Comprehensive Recovery Framework, including through engagement to improve ease of doing business, enhance the region’s digital transformation, and strengthen the resilience of supply chains. In support of these efforts, we encourage the early conclusion of a high-quality ASEAN-New Zealand regional Air Services Agreement, to provide a more open environment for air links and to facilitate greater ease of movement of people and goods, and look forward to the successor programme of the AANZFTA Economic Cooperation Support Programme.


16. We welcome the understanding and friendships that have developed between the peoples of ASEAN and New Zealand, including as a result of our People-to-People programmes. With a view to building greater awareness of ASEAN-New Zealand relations, we endeavour to strengthen further those links through two-way exchanges, scholarships, and short-term specialist training programmes such as English language training, and technical vocational education and training, by promoting the diverse and rich culture in ASEAN Member States and New Zealand, and by exploring other opportunities for building capacity for economic and social development, with a particular focus on opportunities that build links between our youth, young leaders, and entrepreneurs.

17. We reaffirm our efforts to promote good governance at all levels, and to realise vibrant and inclusive societies that promote high quality of life and equitable access to opportunities for all, whose members enjoy human rights, and which promote social protection for vulnerable groups.

18. We acknowledge the on-going threat of communicable and emerging infectious diseases, especially the COVID-19 pandemic, and reaffirm the value in strengthening cooperation and sharing information to enable collective, coordinated and comprehensive responses to such events, which require a whole of government and whole of society approach. We express our support for global initiatives that ensure the fair and equitable global access to and distribution of safe, effective, and affordable COVID-19 diagnostics, therapeutics and vaccines, including but not limited to the Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator and the COVID-19 Vaccine Global Access (COVAX) Facility and Advance Market Commitment; and underscore the importance of strong, resilient and sustainable supply chains, in order to effectively facilitate trade and to ensure the unimpeded flow of goods and services, including medical supplies, medicines and vaccines, food, commodities and other essential supplies and services in the region. We also welcome New Zealand’s contribution to the COVID-19 ASEAN Response Fund.


19. We acknowledge that as political leaders we carry responsibility for the sustainable management, effective conservation, and responsible stewardship of our lands and forests, our environment, and our people. We therefore recognise the importance of working together to ensure a sustainable and climate-resilient economic recovery, as well as exploring support for initiatives which strengthen the region’s capabilities on environmental protection, climate change and sustainability issues, including the implementation of the Paris Agreement; promote renewable energy, the sustainable management of natural resources, and the conservation of forests and biological diversity; combat marine plastic debris; and address Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) Fishing. In this regard, New Zealand highlighted the Māori concept of kaitiakitanga, which emphasises the importance of caring for and protecting peoples and places for future generations.

20. We reiterate the importance of continuing to work together on disaster management to enhance disaster awareness and strengthen respective capabilities in disaster risk reduction, mitigation, prevention, preparedness and response, and recovery, including under the ambit of ASEAN-led mechanisms and initiatives.

21. To give effect to this, we welcome New Zealand’s efforts to promote climate-smart agriculture in ASEAN, with a focus on improving food security while addressing efforts to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions, and encourage officials working on climate change to strengthen engagement. We also welcome New Zealand’s interest in promoting sustainable water management in the Mekong sub-region, including through its contribution to the Mekong River Commission. 


22. We underscore the importance of enhancing cross-pillar cooperation and the role that the seamless movement of people, goods and services plays in bringing the peoples of ASEAN and New Zealand closer together, as well as building strong links throughout the region, including with Pacific Island countries. In this regard, we will continue to work together in support of the Master Plan on ASEAN Connectivity (MPAC) 2025, the Initiative for ASEAN Integration (IAI) Work Plan IV (2021-2025), and the ASEAN Smart Cities Network (ASCN).

23. We will also redouble our efforts toward the achievement of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in our region, including through the promotion of complementarities between the ASEAN Community Vision 2025 and the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development (Complementarities Initiative).

24. In support of all our work, we will continue our efforts to embed the principles of good governance, and to foster transparent, accountable, participatory and effective governance, throughout the region; including by strengthening the capacity of the ASEAN Secretariat and appropriate ASEAN entities.

As we adopt this Joint Vision Statement, we reflect on the long history of genuine friendship between ASEAN and New Zealand, including New Zealand's contributions to the region as one of ASEAN's oldest dialogue partners. We therefore task our relevant officials to bear this spirit of partnership in mind as we implement and realise our vision identified in this Joint Statement and the Plan of Action 2021-2025, as well as other existing ASEAN-New Zealand frameworks for cooperation.