Trade and Competitiveness Minister Craig Emerson is in Siem Reap, Cambodia, from today for a series of meetings with Trade Ministers from ASEAN member countries and others in the region.
Dr Emerson will join Ministers from ASEAN and its other free trade agreement partners – including China, India, Japan, Korea and New Zealand – to discuss ASEAN proposals for a Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership.
A region-wide economic partnership would build on the ASEAN-Australia-New Zealand FTA to initially include 10 ASEAN countries and six of its FTA partners, Dr Emerson said.
"Australia is constantly looking to deepen its engagement with Asian countries in this, the Asian Century," Dr Emerson said.
"The creation of a broad, comprehensive and high-quality agreement encompassing 16 developed and developing nations would benefit all participants.
"I will work with my counterparts from around the region to consider how we might best take ASEAN's initiative forward."
While in Siem Reap, Dr Emerson will take part in a meeting with his New Zealand and ASEAN counterparts to review the ASEAN-Australia-New Zealand FTA, which has been in force for all 12 signatories since January this year.
ASEAN as a group accounted for more than $88 billion in two-way trade with Australia in 2011.
Dr Emerson will also attend the East Asia Summit (EAS) Economic and Trade Ministers' Meeting while in Cambodia.
Nine of Australia's largest 10 trading partners are EAS members.
Dr Emerson will also hold a series of bilateral meetings in Siem Reap.
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