Asean summit ends with rebukes against trade protectionism

ASEAN-Aust in digital trade push

Australia hosted the weekend meetings despite not being a member of the 10-nation bloc, aiming to tighten political and trade ties in the region amid China's rising influence.

Vietnam remains the most vocal opponent of Beijing's military installations and construction of artificial islands in the South China Sea, while the Philippines appeared to have changed its position under its China-friendly president, Rodrigo Duterte.

It says the leaders look forward to an early conclusion of an effective Code of Conduct in the South China Sea.

The statement expresses grave concerns about the escalation of tensions on the Korean Peninsula, saying this threatens regional and global peace and security.

When he was asked directly if he would raise human rights abuses by ASEAN members during a press conference on Friday Mr Turnbull, said simply: "We approach ASEAN with the greatest respect".

"ASEAN, in the future, will become a major tourist destination for middle-class citizens of India and China, which are now enjoying swift economic growth", he told businesspeople at the CEO Forum during the ASEAN-Australia Special Summit in Sydney on Saturday.

The ASEAN summit also tackled the United States position on worldwide trade, with Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong saying the grouping believed that "a free open and rules multilateral trading system is key to the region's growth and prosperity".

President Donald Trump announced the tariffs on March 7 to protect domestic steel and aluminium producers on national security grounds.

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"If we secure a good agreement, this would be, as one of our colleagues said this morning, an antithesis of protectionism".

The U.S. has criticized China for land reclamation and other moves to assert control over areas also claimed in part by Southeast Asian countries.

Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said her country will also provide training and technical assistance to "build resilient and competitive communities", including through the development of an Asean Smart Cities Network.

Trade liberalisation was a major focus of the summit, which resulted in all participating leaders committing to conclude the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) by this year.

The heads of ASEAN's member states officially adopted The Sydney Declaration - a document peppered with initiatives that recognise the advance of the digital revolution and its role in the region's future.

"Aung San Suu Kyi addressed the matter comprehensively, at some considerable length herself", he said. "Everyone seeks to end the suffering that has been occasioned by the events, the conflict, the dislocation".

New Zealand's finance and also sports minister Grant Robertson, Indonesian Ambassador to New Zealand Tantowi Yahya and New Zealand's Ambassador to Indonesia Trevor Mathedon welcomed their arrival.

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