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1301.0 - Year Book Australia, 2004  
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 27/02/2004   
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Contents >> International relations >> Introduction

Contributed by the Australian Government Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, AusAID, and the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research.


Australia’s international relations are driven by its core national interests - the security and prosperity of Australia and its people. Australia’s international relations are also shaped by globalisation. Economic globalisation provides opportunities for internationally competitive economies, such as Australia’s, but also brings challenges for political and economic management.

Australia is a middle ranking power with broad global interests. Its history, geography, culture, strategic circumstances and economy combine in a distinctive way to make an active foreign and trade policy essential. Australia’s values, its record of constructive international engagement, its cultural diversity and the size, strength, and internationalisation of its economy underpin its participation in world affairs.

Australia has important links with all regions of the world. The countries which engage Australia’s interests most substantially are those which influence its strategic and economic environment. Australia also aligns itself creatively with countries and groups of countries with which it shares specific interests.

Australia therefore pursues bilateral, regional and multilateral policies which are mutually supportive in advancing its national interests. In addition to maintaining and developing strong bilateral relationships, Australia advances its international interests by actively participating in regional and global institutions and forums.

Security issues have assumed even greater prominence. Australia has been at the forefront of international efforts to forge effective counter-terrorism cooperation, especially in the region, and to prevent the deployment and spread of weapons of mass destruction. Securing access to overseas markets and investment is crucial for Australia’s prosperity. Australia is pursuing improved market access through the new round of multilateral trade negotiations in the World Trade Organization. At the same time, other endeavours achieve practical results for Australian businesses. They include the free trade agreement negotiations with the United States of America and other bilateral and regional efforts.

In 2003, the Government published Australia’s second foreign and trade policy White Paper, Advancing the National Interest. The paper provides a comprehensive assessment of Australia’s place in the world. It articulates how Australia can best use its considerable credentials and attributes to advance its national interests in an increasingly globalised and fluid international environment.

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