This chapter was contributed by the Australian Government Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and the Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID) (December 2009).
Australia’s foreign and trade policies are designed to advance the security and prosperity of Australia and Australians in an increasingly complex and challenging international environment. Australia's foreign and trade policies and overseas aid program contribute importantly to achieving Australia's goals as a creative middle power.
The Australian Government's operational environment continues to present both opportunities and challenges. Opportunities include expanded trade access, new security cooperation and broader bilateral and multilateral cooperation on shared goals. The unpredictable nature of the external environment is a key risk that has the potential to affect Australian security and economic interests such as terrorism and transnational threats, as well as climate change.
Australia pursues bilateral, regional and multilateral strategies to advance its national interest. Australia has close bilateral relationships with countries in the region and a strong alliance in 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 participates proactively in multilateral organisations. It uses its membership of international bodies, including the United Nations and the World Trade Organization, to work for regional security and stability, trade liberalisation, good governance and human rights as well as sustainable development, among other important goals.