Australia’s foreign and trade policies are designed to advance the security and prosperity of Australia and Australians.
This chapter was contributed by the Australian Government Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, AusAID, and the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (August 2006).
The international environment is increasingly challenging and uncertain. Globalisation has made the world more interdependent and provided opportunities for trading nations such as Australia by promoting trade liberalisation and raising living standards. However, globalisation has also increased countries’ vulnerability to transnational threats. The threat of international terrorism continues to impact on the security environment and countering terrorism is a major focus of Australia’s foreign policy.
Australia pursues bilateral, regional and multilateral strategies to advance its national interest. Australia has close bilateral relationships with countries in the region and key relations with major powers, including the United States of America. Australia is an active member of regional organisations, such as the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum, the Association of South East Asian Nations Regional Forum, the East Asia Summit, and the Pacific Islands Forum.
The Australian Government is a strong supporter of multilateral organisations. It uses its membership of such bodies, including the United Nations and the World Trade Organization, to work for regional security and stability, trade liberalisation, good governance, human rights and sustainable development, among other important goals.
The International Council for Science in conjunction with the World Meteorological Organization established an International Polar Year in 2007-2008. The article Australia and Antarctica concludes this chapter and outlines the role the Australian Government has played internationally in the preservation of the polar environment.