During a visit to Vientiane to celebrate the 70and anniversary of diplomatic relations between Australia and Laos, I announced new initiatives to deepen our cooperation to support a safe, prosperous and resilient region.
Australia will support a second phase of the Quality and Access to Basic Education program in Laos to help the Ministry of Education and Sports complete the national roll-out of the program for the full five years of education primary.
A stronger basic education system will help Laos develop a more skilled and productive workforce, which will enable the country to better withstand challenges, escape poverty and contribute to economic growth. stable.
As Minister for Women, as well as Minister for Foreign Affairs, I am happy that this funding supports girls’ education. Quality education is essential to the empowerment of women and girls and to social equality, and provides essential support for national economic growth.
We will extend funding to the Laos-Australia Institute (LAI) – a partnership between our countries that has supported the economic and social development of Laos since 2014 – through an investment of $16 million to continue our support for the delivery of professionals highly skilled in the Laos labor market.
Australia is committed to supporting growth and sustainability across the Mekong.
Under the Mekong-Australia Partnership (MAP) – announced by Prime Minister Morrison at the 2020 ASEAN-Australia Summit – Australia will provide $10 million to support the Lao government’s public financial management reform efforts .
Building capacity in this area will enable decision makers to make timely policy decisions that will impact the long-term prosperity of Laos.
Australia will also work in partnership with Laos to build environmental resilience through the MAP, providing over $15 million to support better water resource management and to build food security and resilience to climate change. communities.
As part of Australia’s commitment to quality infrastructure development in the Indo-Pacific, we will also allocate at least $10 million through infrastructure partnerships as Laos improves national and regional transport connectivity.
This will include support to upgrade cross-border facilities at the Thai and Vietnamese ends of Laos National Highway 2 – a major east-west route and one of ASEAN’s original pipeline projects.
Australia sees ASEAN at the heart of the Indo-Pacific – the $154 million ASEAN-Australia Comprehensive Strategic Partnership (CSP) underscores our strong commitment to ASEAN centrality and ASEAN’s outlook on the Indo-Pacific.
Australia will work closely with Laos as the ASEAN National Coordinator to implement the ASEAN-Australia DSP.
This includes awarding around 100 Australian ASEAN scholarships to help emerging ASEAN leaders study in areas that advance ASEAN’s outlook on the Indo-Pacific, including 10 for academics from Laos.
Australia is also committed to supporting Laos as it prepares for its 2024 ASEAN Chairmanship year – over the next two years we will support placements for 24 emerging diplomats at Laos’ Permanent Mission to the ASEAN. in Jakarta, giving them invaluable skills and experience working at the regional level.
These investments build on Australia’s strong support for Laos’ health and economic recovery from COVID-19, including through the delivery of over one million vaccines to Laos and our broader support. delivery of vaccines and training of Ministry of Health personnel.