In its international relations, Australia uses its assets - economic, strategic and cultural - as well as an international reputation as a responsible, constructive and practical country. The values which Australia brings to its international relations are the values of a liberal democracy. These have been shaped by national experience and given vigour through cultural diversity. They include the rule of law, freedom of the press, the accountability of the government to an elected parliament, and a commitment to a ‘fair go’.
In terms of Gross Domestic Product per capita, Australia ranks eleventh in the world. We have a modern industrial economy with a sophisticated manufacturing and services base. And the Australian economy has been performing strongly, especially through the challenge of the East Asian financial crisis and slower economic growth in some of our leading export markets. Over the past decade, Australia has had the fifth fastest growing economy in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), outperforming the United States, Canada and most of the European Union.
Australia has a strong skills base, high quality education and training institutions, advanced physical infrastructure, and adoption and usage rates for information technology which are among the highest in the world. Our strong civil institutions underpin a free society and encourage free enterprise. Australia’s cultural diversity gives Australian society a vigour and capacity to adapt rapidly to new opportunities. It is also a rich source of language and other skills which help us do business in a global economy.
Australia’s defence capability is significant in regional terms. Australia has a broadly based alliance relationship with the United States, whose strategic engagement and commitment underwrite the stability of East Asia.