1301.0 - Year Book Australia, 2012  
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Int Relations


Australia pursues bilateral relationships with a range of countries in order to promote shared interests and deal with shared challenges. Australia’s international engagement focuses on those countries with the greatest bearing on its strategic and economic outlook.


Australia's relationship with the United States is fundamental to Australia's broader international security and economic interests. At the heart of security relations between Australia and the United States is the ANZUS Treaty, signed in 1951, which binds the two countries to co-operate on military and security issues. The ANZUS alliance continues to underpin a dynamic and broad-ranging security relationship that involves sharing technology, training and intelligence, and co-operating extensively on issues such as counter-terrorism, non-proliferation and humanitarian activities. By providing one of the anchors for US engagement in the region, the ANZUS alliance makes an important contribution to the stability and prosperity of the Asia Pacific.

The United States remains Australia's largest two-way investment partner. In 2010–11, the United States was also Australia's largest services trading partner and third largest merchandise trading partner. In 2010–11, Australia exported goods and services to the United States worth $14.2 billion and imported goods and services from the United States worth $36.3 billion. Major Australian exports to the United States include professional services, beef and alcoholic beverages. The Australia-US Free Trade Agreement (AUSFTA) continues to provide new opportunities for Australian exporters and investors since entering into force on 1 January 2005. The governments of Australia and the United States regularly discuss bilateral, regional and global trade and economic issues that affect the wealth and prosperity of the two countries. In 2011, Australia worked closely with the United States during its year as host of the APEC forum to improve regional economic integration. Both countries continue to advocate trade liberalisation through the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).

Australia maintains its strong alliance with the United States through regular high-level talks. AUSMIN, which is held annually, brings together the Australian Ministers for Foreign Affairs and for Defence with the US Secretaries of State and Defense. The AUSMIN meeting in September 2011 underlined the contemporary relevance of the ANZUS treaty in dealing with new and emerging security issues, including in the cyber realm.

President Obama’s November 2011 visit to Australia included an historic address to the Australian Parliament, which highlighted the enduring close friendship between the two countries and commemorated 60 years since the signing of the ANZUS treaty. During the visit, Prime Minister Gillard and President Obama announced two new initiatives that will significantly enhance defence co-operation between Australia and the United States. Starting in 2012, Australia will welcome initial deployments of 250 US Marines to Darwin and northern Australia where they will conduct exercises and training on a rotational basis with the Australian Defence Force. Closer co-operation between the Royal Australian Air Force and the US Air Force will also result in increased rotations of US aircraft through northern Australia.

Non-government links between Australia and the United States are extensive. Australian business, education and culture were promoted in the United States by 40 'G'Day USA 2011' events on issues such as clean energy and sustainable cities. In 2010, there were 472,200 visitor arrivals from the United States – Australia's third largest inbound market for visitor arrivals.


North Asia is of key strategic and economic significance to Australia. Its markets account for over half of Australia’s merchandise exports. The stability and economic development of the region, and its relationship with the United States, bear directly on Australia’s security and prosperity.


The Australia-Japan relationship is among Australia’s closest and most important. It is underpinned by shared values, intersecting interests and common approaches to international security challenges. Both countries are industrialised democracies committed to prosperity and stability in the Asia-Pacific region. Australia and Japan are working together to identify new areas to broaden the existing partnership on security matters, including counter-terrorism and counter-proliferation. The 2007 Joint Declaration on Security Co-operation was a milestone in the bilateral relationship. The two countries are implementing the ambitious security arrangements envisaged in the declaration, including through regular foreign and defence ministers’ talks, joint exercises and training. Helping Japan respond to the devastating earthquake and tsunami in March 2011 became a major focus of Australia’s bilateral co-operation in 2011 and contributed to deeper and more enduring community contacts and understanding between the two countries.

Japan remained Australia’s second largest trading partner and export market in 2010–11 and third largest source of foreign direct investment. Australia’s merchandise exports to Japan totalled $47 billion in 2010–11 and Japan was Australia’s top export market for coal, beef, aluminium, liquefied natural gas (LNG), dairy products and woodchips. Australia and Japan regularly discuss trade and economic issues, including at the Trade and Economic Ministers Dialogue, most recently held in Sydney in February 2011. Australia welcomes the Japanese government’s renewed commitment to economic reform, and will continue to work with Japan to progress negotiations for a bilateral free trade agreement that will deliver economic benefits to both countries.

Reflecting a shared approach to multilateralism, Australia works closely with Japan through a range of multilateral institutions. Australia and Japan also have a record of co-operation in areas such as humanitarian relief, peacekeeping, responding to the global financial crisis, and addressing climate change. Differences on whaling have not disrupted the broader relationship and the two governments have agreed that this should remain the case.

The cultural relationship between the two nations continues to grow. As at 2011, there are 16 Australia-Japan and Japan-Australia societies providing grass-roots community support to the relationship, as well as 99 sister city alliances. The Australian and Japanese governments support grassroots efforts to increase Japanese-language learning in Australia and related exchanges, including through the Australia-Japan Foundation.


Australia’s relationship with China is based on mutual respect and a recognition of shared interests and differences. The relationship has continued to grow and mature as Australia engages with China on various issues of mutual interest, including climate change, nuclear non-proliferation and development assistance in the South Pacific. Australia and China have regular bilateral dialogues on climate change, consular issues, human rights and regional security, and co-operate through a range of multilateral institutions.

China's importance to Australia has grown with China's increasing economic, political and strategic influence in the Asia-Pacific region and in the global economy. In 2010–11, China was Australia’s largest two-way trading partner for goods and services. The value of trade with China topped $100 billion for the first time in 2010. Two-way goods and services trade was $113.3 billion in 2010–11, an increase of 26% compared to the previous year. Australia is working to diversify its trading relationship with China and exploit new opportunities presented by China’s continued high growth, including in South West China. Both governments are continuing negotiations for a bilateral free trade agreement.

Frequent high-level visits between Australia and China continue to strengthen the relationship. Prime Minister Gillard’s visit to China and Politburo Standing Committee Member Jia Qinglin’s visit to Australia in April 2011 highlighted the growing trade and economic relationship and the commitment on both sides to strengthen bilateral relations.

Non-government links play a vital role in the Australia-China relationship. Australia’s participation in the Shanghai World Expo in 2010 projected an informed contemporary image of Australia and strengthened Chinese perceptions of Australia as innovative, creative and dynamic. The Australia-China Council also plays a significant role in building understanding of contemporary Australia’s scientific, technological and educational outlook. High growth in tourism and education has bolstered non-government links between the two countries. Chinese visitor arrivals reached 454,000 in 2010 and with more than 126,000 Chinese students studying in Australia, Chinese students made up more than a quarter of Australia’s overseas students in 2010. Australia and China have more than 75 sister city/sister state relationships.


Within the framework of its one-China policy, Australia promotes important economic, trade, cultural and non-government links with Taiwan. Australia’s merchandise exports to Taiwan were valued at $9.1 billion in 2010–11, Australia’s fifth largest merchandise export market. Recent developments in the bilateral relationship include bilateral economic consultations in May 2011, the negotiation of an Investment Promotion Accord and a streamlined Electronic Travel Authority facility for Taiwan passport-holders.

Republic of Korea

Australia’s political and economic relationship with the Republic of Korea (ROK) continues to grow, building upon shared democratic values, common strategic interests and substantial and complementary economic ties. The ROK was Australia’s third largest goods and services export market in 2010–11, with exports increasing by 32% from the previous year to $24.3 billion. Key Australian exports to the ROK include iron ore, coal and crude petroleum. Key imports from the ROK include passenger motor vehicles and refined petroleum. Negotiations are almost complete for an Australia-ROK Free Trade Agreement, which will further strengthen economic and trade links between the two countries.

A number of significant events in 2010–11 reinforced the close co-operative relationship between Australia and the ROK. Prime Minister Gillard visited the ROK in April 2011 to mark the 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations, and to attend the G20 Summit in Seoul in November 2010. To celebrate the 2011 Australia-Korea Year of Friendship, Australia and the ROK held year-long cultural programs in the ROK and Australia. Australia’s participation in the Expo to be held in Yeosu, from May to August 2012, will further strengthen business and other non-government links, building on existing work to deepen exchanges between the two countries. In 2010, the ROK was Australia’s eighth-largest source of visitor arrivals and third-largest source of overseas student enrolments.

Australia and the ROK work together to promote regional and global security and in April 2011 leaders welcomed both countries’ strengthened engagement pursuant to the March 2009 Joint Statement on Enhanced Global and Security Cooperation. This initiative has seen increasing security links through joint exercises on the Korean Peninsula and improved co-operation in the fields of law enforcement, border security, counter-terrorism, disarmament and non-proliferation and disaster response.

Democratic People’s Republic of Korea

Australia continued to seek support at regional meetings such as the EAS and ARF to urge the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) to end its nuclear weapons program and comply fully with the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. Australia continues to implement autonomous sanctions against the DPRK, in addition to the sanctions mandated by UN Security Council Resolutions 1718 and 1874.

Australia urged a strong response from the international community to the DPRK’s shelling of Yeonpyeong Island in November 2010, which killed and injured armed forces personnel and civilians. The incident followed the DPRK's sinking of a ROK naval vessel earlier in 2010, with the loss of 46 lives. In 2011, Australia urged calm and restraint by all parties following the death of Kim Jong-il and worked with regional partners including the United States, Japan and the ROK to urge the new DPRK leadership, under Kim Jong-il's third son, Kim Jong-un, to take this opportunity to act in the interests of its own people, engage constructively with the international community, and comply fully with its obligations and commitments to denuclearise.


South East Asia is a region which is critical to Australia’s continued security and prosperity. Australia’s relations with the countries of South East Asia continue to strengthen with increased trade and two-way visits, demonstrating the value of increased co-operation with partners in the region.


Australia and Indonesia are close neighbours and enjoy a wide-ranging relationship encompassing political, security, commercial and cultural links. Australia and Indonesia co-operate closely on regional and global challenges including counter-terrorism, people smuggling, transnational crime, illegal fishing and climate change.

The relationship is underpinned by frequent two-way high-level exchanges, including more than 90 ministerial visits between Australia and Indonesia since November 2007. During President Yudhoyono's state visit to Australia in March 2010, leaders agreed to upgrade the Australia-Indonesia relationship to a ‘comprehensive strategic partnership’, in which leaders agreed to meet annually and foreign and defence ministers would meet in a ‘2+2’ format each year. To strengthen education, culture, media, business and sports links, leaders decided to establish the Australia-Indonesia Dialogue, which first met in Jakarta in October 2011.

During Prime Minister Gillard’s November 2011 visit to Indonesia, leaders agreed to begin formal negotiations on the Australia-Indonesia Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA). The CEPA will deepen and broaden the economic relationship between the two countries, building on the ASEAN-Australia-New Zealand Free Trade Agreement. Indonesia is Australia’s 12th largest trading partner, with two-way goods and services trade totalling $13.8 billion in 2010–11. Australia’s goods and services exports to Indonesia were valued at $6 billion in 2010–11. Australia’s major exports to Indonesia include wheat, education-related travel, crude petroleum, live animals and aluminium.

Non-government links are an important part of Australia-Indonesia relations. Over the past two years, the Australia-Indonesia Institute has provided 81 grants in fields such as the arts, education, faith, media, science and technology, and youth.


During reciprocal Prime Ministerial visits between Australia and Malaysia in 2010 and 2011, the diverse nature of the relationship was demonstrated by agreed measures to strengthen regional security, trade and public sector reform. In March 2011, Australia and Malaysia signed memoranda of understanding on co-operation in education and sport. Also, in March 2011, prime ministers called for conclusion of Free Trade Agreement negotiations within twelve months. Australia’s high level of engagement with Malaysia on security issues was strengthened in July 2011 by the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding on co-operation on maritime law enforcement and by Malaysia’s co-operation on combating people-smuggling. Australia and Malaysia also participate in joint defence exercises, including for the 40th anniversary of the Five Power Defence Arrangements in 2011.

Australia and Malaysia continue to enjoy strong trade and other non-government links. In 2010–11, Australia exported goods and services to Malaysia valued at $5.7 billion, and imported goods and services valued at $10.1 billion. Investment relations remain deep, with Malaysian direct investment in Australia valued at around $8.2 billion and Australian direct investment in Malaysia valued at around $4.4 billion. Australia is the top education destination for Malaysians and around 21,000 Malaysian students were enrolled to study in Australia in 2010. The Australia-Malaysia Institute, established in 2005 to strengthen further institutional links, supported a broad range of projects and activities, including a sister schools program, and a young leaders program in May 2011 that brought together 21 emerging leaders from Malaysia and Australia.


Australia and Singapore share a close relationship built on strong defence and trade ties, as well as likeminded views on a range of regional and issues. Singapore is Australia's largest trade and investment partner in ASEAN. Australia's goods and services exports to Singapore in 2010–11 were valued at $8.3 billion, while goods and services imports from Singapore were valued at $15.1 billion. Singapore is a significant source of foreign investment into Australia, with total Singaporean investment stock valued at $43.8 billion in 2010. The Singapore-Australia Free Trade Agreement (SAFTA) is Australia's second-oldest FTA, and continues to create opportunities for businesses to trade and invest between the two countries. The outcomes of the second review of SAFTA came into effect in 2011, creating greater certainty for business by ensuring that investors from each country are accorded fair and equitable treatment when investing in the other country.

Non-government links between Australia and Singapore continue to develop, building on strong education and tourism sectors. Australia continued to host a number of Singapore Armed Forces military units in Australia and undertakes regular joint defence exercises, including through the 40th anniversary of the Five Power Defence Arrangements in 2011. Australia and Singapore also participate in multilateral and regional security operations, including in Afghanistan and the Gulf of Aden.


Australia and Thailand will celebrate the 60th anniversary of diplomatic relations in 2012. This will provide opportunities to continue regular high-level engagement, building on visits to Thailand by the Governor-General in April 2011 and the Minister for Foreign Affairs in May 2011. The strong and broad-based relationship continues to be enhanced by non-government links through the work of the Australia-Thailand Institute (ATI), which supports high-level visits and youth exchanges. The ATI also provides funding to projects improving links in fields such as trade, democratic governance, public administration, arts, culture, education, science, technology and innovation. Approximately 16,500 Thais are studying in Australia, and over 700,000 Australians visit Thailand every year. Australia’s trade and commercial relations with Thailand are robust, with total two-way goods and services trade in 2010–11 reaching $19.1 billion, making Thailand Australia’s second largest trading partner in South East Asia.


Australia’s significant relationship with the Philippines continues to strengthen across a range of areas including counter-terrorism, defence and maritime security, trade and investment, development, and regional and multilateral engagement. Regular high-level engagement has provided opportunities for Australia to support the Aquino Administration’s progressive reform agenda. Australia hosted the third Philippines-Australia Ministerial Meeting (PAMM) in Canberra on 16 June 2011 involving ministers responsible for foreign affairs and trade from both countries. Ministers discussed counter-terrorism, defence and security, the peace process in the southern Philippines, development assistance, trade and investment, and regional and multilateral engagement.

Economic co-operation has focused on enhancing opportunities for Australian businesses in the Philippines mining sector. Non-government and immigration links also continue to develop, and the Filipino community is one of the fastest growing in Australia.


Australia’s increasingly important relationship with Vietnam is reflected in the Australia Viet Nam Comprehensive Partnership, signed in 2009, and the associated Plan of Action, signed in October 2010. Australia and Vietnam co-operate in a range of fields including political and public policy exchanges, trade and investment, development assistance, defence and security, and non-government links. High-level political contact is strong, with a number of visits over the past two years, including by the Governor-General, Prime Minister and Foreign Minister. Trade has grown at an average of around 10% over the past decade, and stands at $6.1 billion. In December 2011, Vietnam hosted the 10th Joint Trade and Economic Cooperation meeting in Hanoi. Co-chaired by the Australian Minister for Trade and the Vietnamese Minister for Planning and Investment, the meeting agreed on a number of areas of further economic co-operation, including resources and energy.

Education links continue to be a particularly important part of the relationship. There were over 25,000 Vietnamese enrolments in Australian institutions in 2010, and a further 15,000 Vietnamese studying in Australian institutions based in Vietnam. Australia continues to engage productively with Vietnam on human rights issues, including through the annual Human Rights Dialogue. The last Dialogue was held in Canberra in February 2011. Australia also works with Vietnam to advance the global and regional agenda, including through the EAS, APEC and the Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations.


Australian engagement with Cambodia is increasing, underpinned by historical ties stemming from Australia’s leading role in the Cambodian peace process. Cambodia will chair ASEAN and the EAS in 2012, providing further opportunities for high-level co-operation. Australia is the second largest donor to the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia, where surviving leaders of the former Khmer Rouge regime are being tried. Australian investor interest in Cambodia continues to grow, including in the banking, infrastructure, mining and agribusiness sectors.

Brunei Darussalam

Australia and Brunei Darussalam enjoy a constructive relationship with growing links in the fields of security, education and trade. Bilateral defence and security co-operation is enhanced by memoranda of understanding on co-operation in terrorism and transnational crime. Trade and investment remain an important focus of Australia's bilateral relationship with Brunei, with total two-way trade in goods and services amounting to $1.3 billion in 2010–11.


Australia and Laos will celebrate the 60th anniversary of diplomatic relations in 2012. The diverse relationship between the two countries is complemented by regular high-level official visits and growing non-government links. Economic ties are characterised by significant Australian investment in the Lao mining sector, and will further deepen as the Lao economy continues to grow strongly.


Australia engages actively with the international community on policy approaches to Burma, including voicing concerns on human rights and democratic reform. The government responded to the inauguration of Burma’s first nominally-civilian government in 50 years and the opening of new national and regional parliaments and assemblies; the renewed dialogue between Burma’s government and Aung San Suu Kyi; and revisions to legislation in a range of areas. The government identified a range of strategies to help support the reform process in Burma. The then Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr Rudd, visited Burma in June–July 2011, the first such visit since 2002. Australia is Burma’s second largest development assistance provider, with a focus on education and health.

East Timor

Australia is at the forefront of international efforts to help East Timor (Timor-Leste) maintain its stability and become a more prosperous nation, including by providing a budgeted $124 million in 2011–12 through the development assistance program, and shared management of petroleum resources in the Joint Petroleum Development Area. Australia continued to advocate ongoing international engagement, including the renewal in February 2011 of the mandate for the UN Integrated Mission in Timor-Leste (UNMIT). Australia continues to lead the International Stabilisation Force (ISF) which helped restore stability after unrest in mid 2006. The ISF remains in East Timor in support of UNMIT. The then Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr Rudd, reinforced Australia's friendship with East Timor during his visit as Foreign Minister in July 2011, as well as Australia's long-term commitment to East Timor's development when he signed a Partnership for Development with East Timor in December 2011.


Stability, security and prosperity in the Pacific are important to Australia’s national interest. One-quarter of Australia’s aid program is dedicated to the region. Australia engages actively in bilateral and regional initiatives throughout the region and continues to enhance its long-standing partnership with New Zealand.

New Zealand

Australia and New Zealand share a close and diverse relationship, underpinned by extensive and high-level government-to-government interaction and strong business and other non-government links. This was evident through Australia’s contribution to the response to the 22 February 2011 earthquake in Christchurch, with over 750 Australian personnel involved in rescue and relief efforts.

The trade and investment relationship is underpinned by the 1983 Australia New Zealand Closer Economic Relations Trade Agreement (ANZCERTA), which created a free trade area between the two countries. Trans-Tasman economic integration was further strengthened in 2011 through signing of an Investment Protocol to ANZCERTA. Economic integration was discussed at the Australia New Zealand Leadership Forum in Auckland in April 2011.

New Zealand is Australia’s seventh largest goods and services trading partner and third largest investment market. Exports of Australian goods and services to New Zealand were valued at $11.1 billion in 2010–11. Australia imported goods and services from New Zealand valued at $10.1 billion over the same period.

Non-government contact between the two countries is extensive. Over 400,000 New Zealanders live in Australia, while around 65,000 Australians live in New Zealand. The Trans-Tasman Travel Arrangement allows Australians and New Zealanders to visit, live and work in each other’s country without restriction.

Papua New Guinea

The close relations between Australia and Papua New Guinea (PNG) are based on geographic proximity and historical links. Australia has a strong interest in Papua New Guinea's sustainable development and stability. The presence of approximately 10,000 Australians in Papua New Guinea is also of significant interest to the government. Australia is PNG’s largest source of imports and number one export market, and in 2010–11, total two-way trade in goods and services amounted to almost $7 billion. A key focus of Australian investment in PNG is the resources sector, particularly gold, oil and gas.

Australia maintains strong relations with PNG through regular high-level talks and visits. The Australia-PNG Ministerial Forum, held in Canberra in October 2011, underlined the increasing importance of economic co-operation in the evolving bilateral relationship. At the forum, Australia and PNG agreed to begin negotiations on an economic co-operation treaty to replace the existing development co-operation treaty.

Pacific islands

Australia values its close historical, political, economic and community links with countries and territories in the Pacific. Australia is playing an active role in the region in support of economic growth, sustainable development, good governance and stability.

Australia is a founding member and major donor to a number of key regional organisations in the Pacific. The Pacific Islands Forum (PIF) is the region’s principal political institution, bringing together the independent and self-governing states of the Pacific in an annual leaders’ meeting. The 42nd Forum meeting, marking the 40th anniversary of the founding of the Forum, was held in Auckland in September 2011. Prime Minister Gillard announced major new funding for the Australian Pacific Technical College and the expansion of the Pacific Seasonal Worker Pilot Scheme (PSWPS) to an additional four countries.

Australia continues to lead the Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands (RAMSI), which since 2003 has been working to achieve a more stable and prosperous future for Solomon Islanders. In recognition of the strong progress made by RAMSI in partnership with the Solomon Islands Government, the mission's activities are gradually drawing down.

Australia continued to work with the international community to encourage Fiji’s return to democracy. However, the Fiji regime failed to take any credible steps towards holding elections. While the Public Emergency Regulations implemented in April 2009 were lifted on 7 January 2012, Fiji continued to be ruled by decree. The decline of the Fiji economy and the upsurge in human rights abuses perpetrated by the regime – particularly targeting churches, trade unions and opposition groups – highlight the importance of Fiji returning to democracy and the rule of law.

With the signature in August 2010 of Partnerships for Development with the Federated States of Micronesia, Republic of the Marshall Islands and the Republic of Palau, Australia has partnerships with eleven Pacific Island countries. These Partnerships provide a framework for achieving progress towards the Millennium Development Goals. Australia also signed Partnerships for Security with Samoa and Kiribati. Australia supported democratic reforms in Tonga that led to the election of a new, more democratic, Parliament.


Australia continues to make significant contributions to peace and security in South and West Asia and the Middle East, including by participating in international efforts to stabilise Afghanistan and supporting Tunisia and Egypt during periods of rapid political change. The bilateral relationship with India is a priority for Australia. Australia’s increased engagement with Africa reflects its growing economic interests in the continent and recognition of the role Africa plays in an increasingly interdependent world.


Australia has placed India in the front rank of its international partnerships and is engaging with India on a long-term, strategic basis. The bilateral relationship has been strengthened through the Australia-India Strategic Partnership, agreed by prime ministers in November 2009. Annual high-level exchanges take place between Australian and Indian foreign and trade ministers. To further support the growing bilateral relationship, the number of Australian staff posted to India has risen by 85% since 2008, including new positions in Australia’s Consulates-General in Mumbai and Chennai. Between January 2008 and December 2011, there were 24 ministerial-level visits from India to Australia and 30 ministerial-level visits from Australia to India.

The economic relationship has grown steadily in recent years and has the potential to increase considerably as India's economic expansion continues. India is Australia’s eighth largest trading partner with two-way trade reaching $21 billion in 2010–11. In May 2011, the Trade Minister, Dr Emerson, and the Indian Commerce and Industry Minister, Mr Anand Sharma, launched negotiations for an Australia-India Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement.

In November 2011, Australia and India expanded co-operation on Indian Ocean regional affairs, when Australia became Vice-Chair, and India Chair, of the Indian Ocean Rim Association for Regional Cooperation.

The Australia-India Council, established to broaden and deepen bilateral contacts and understanding, will celebrate its 20th anniversary in 2012. Its work in 2010–11 focused on education, science, technology, environment, social initiatives, public policy and the arts.


The Australian Government is committed to international efforts to stabilise Afghanistan and to seeking to ensure that international terrorist groups are denied safe haven there. In 2010 and 2011, Australia expanded its diplomatic presence in Afghanistan both in Kabul and southern Afghanistan. Since August 2010, Australia has led the Provincial Reconstruction Team in Uruzgan, which works with local governments to support reconstruction and development and to prepare Afghan authorities to assume these roles by the end of 2014. Australia is among the top ten bilateral development assistance partners for Afghanistan, and has committed more than $700 million in development assistance for humanitarian and reconstruction efforts since 2001.

In 2010, Australia was the largest non-NATO contributor to the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan and the10th largest overall. In 2010, there were approximately 1,550 Australian Defence Force members engaged in security and stabilisation efforts in Afghanistan (including training and mentoring), with over two-thirds of these in Uruzgan Province.

South Asia

Australia is a long-standing friend of South Asia and delivered a significant humanitarian response to the 2010 and 2011 floods in Pakistan. Australia is committed to supporting Pakistan’s efforts to address its security, economic and development challenges through a range of initiatives including defence training, strategic dialogue and capacity building in law enforcement and counter-terrorism.

In 2011, Australia supported Bangladesh’s efforts to address poverty and respond to the challenges of climate change. Bangladesh is also an important economic, counter-terrorism and security partner for Australia. Australia provided support for post-conflict stabilisation in Sri Lanka and continues to support human rights and political reconciliation. Australia supported efforts in Nepal to urge political parties to keep the peace process on track and address human rights concerns. Australia’s commitment to democracy in South Asia was demonstrated by organising visits to Australia by election officials from Bangladesh, Bhutan, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.


Australia strengthened and diversified its already strong relations with the Middle East and North Africa in 2011. In response to the political upheaval across the region, Australia actively called for leaders to avoid violence and respect human rights and the right to protest. Australia was active in international efforts to resolve the conflict in Libya. Australia also provided early, targeted and practical support for the democratic and economic transition processes underway in Egypt, Tunisia and Libya through technical support and assistance packages, which focused on electoral reform and enhancing agricultural productivity and food security.

At a regional level, Australia concluded an Australia-Arab Dialogue Memorandum of Understanding with the Arab League in September 2011. This Memorandum provides a framework for Australia to enhance its engagement with the League and its member states in a range of areas, including trade, political and cultural spheres. Australia also concluded a framework of co-operation with the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) in June 2011 and appointed the first ever Australian Envoy to the OIC, Ahmed Fahour. In the Gulf region, Australia sought to strengthen political and economic ties with the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) through the inaugural GCC-Australia Foreign Ministers' dialogue in 2011. Australia also supported national reconciliation and political dialogue in Bahrain and Yemen.

Australia continued to work with the international community to place pressure on Iran in response to Iran's continuing non-compliance with United Nations Security Council (UNSC) resolutions on its nuclear program. Australia maintained its commitment to a negotiated solution of the Iran nuclear issue. In response to the worsening violence in Syria, Australia also worked with the international community to urge Syria's regime to end the violence and implement political change.

Australia continued to advocate the resumption of negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians for a two-state solution in which a secure Israel can live side by side with a secure and independent Palestinian state.

The Middle East and North Africa region continued to be an important region for Australian trade and investment. Two-way merchandise trade with Arab League countries totalled $12.1 billion in 2010–11. Cultural, educational, media, sporting and scientific exchanges between Australia and the Arab world are promoted by the Council for Australian-Arab Relations (CAAR). CAAR projects enhance mutual understanding and stronger non-government links.


Australia is strengthening engagement with all African countries and with the African Union, the principal body for co-ordination and integration in the continent. Australia has diplomatic relations with all 54 countries following establishment of diplomatic relations with South Sudan in September 2011.

Australia re-established its Embassy in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, the seat of the African Union, in January 2011. In September 2010, Australia signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the African Union which has strengthened security and development co-operation. Australia played a constructive role in the lead-up to South Sudan's independence, facilitating support for 9,200 people from South Sudan in Australia to vote in the referendum and providing personnel to the United Nations Mission in South Sudan.

Australia has a significant presence in the resources sector in Africa, with Australian companies active in 43 African countries and territories. Australian industry participated in two major mining conferences, Mining Indaba in South Africa in February 2011 and Africa Down Under in Perth in August 2011.

Australia continued to advocate for full implementation of the Global Political Agreement, while supporting economic recovery and encouraging respect for human rights and the rule of law in Zimbabwe.


Australia enjoys close relations with the European Union (EU) and individual European countries. As a bloc, the EU is one of Australia’s largest trading partners and sources of foreign direct investment. Total two-way goods and services trade in 2010–11 was worth $77.7 billion.

Australia and the EU began negotiations on a treaty-level Framework Agreement to provide for joint action in areas such as foreign and security policy, development co-operation, trade and investment, climate change, science, innovation and education. The start of negotiations on 31 October 2011 was a significant milestone in the Australia-EU relationship. Australia and the EU strengthened border security by signing a Passenger Name Record Agreement in September 2011 and have agreed to negotiate a Crisis Management Agreement to facilitate co-operation in response to international crises.

Australia and the United Kingdom share a particularly close and vibrant relationship based on strong historical and non-government links, aligned strategic interests and strong bilateral trade and investment. In 2012, the AUKMIN Foreign and Defence Ministers’ consultations provided an opportunity to strengthen co-operation on foreign and security policy.

Australia maintains strong relationships with other European countries, including through high-level visits by the Governor-General, Prime Minister and other Australian ministers. Australia engages with Germany, Europe’s strongest economy, on a wide range of issues, including resources and energy, development co-operation, nuclear non-proliferation and the environment. The year 2012 marks the 60th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries.

Building on the Australia-Turkey Joint Action Plan, Australia’s co-operation with Turkey is increasing on political, consular and humanitarian issues, notably in the co-ordinated delivery of relief aid to countries in the Middle East.

Relations with Spain continue to grow, underpinned by strong commercial defence ties and expanding Spanish investment in Australia, particularly in the water and renewable energy sectors.

Australia worked closely with France as 2011 Chair of the G20 on global economic issues, and on developments in North Africa, the Middle East and the Pacific. Russia attended its first EAS in November 2011, is hosting APEC in 2012 and will host the G20 in 2013, providing extensive opportunities to broaden and deepen this important bilateral relationship.


Australia is expanding its relationship with Canada on global and regional developments and intensifying co-operation in multilateral forums such as the G20, UN and Commonwealth. Recognising the growing significance of Latin America and the Caribbean, Australia is also strengthening its engagement with the region by developing links with regional organisations and intensifying bilateral contacts. Australia’s relationship with the United States is described earlier in the chapter.


The Australia-Canada relationship is mature, highly productive and broadly-based, and has its foundations in historical and cultural links. In November 2010, Australia hosted the inaugural Australia-Canada Economic Leadership Forum which brought together senior business figures, academics and journalists to explore new opportunities for co-operation. Contact between parliaments, government officials, private sectors and academia is wide-ranging. A comprehensive range of bilateral agreements cover trade, social security, air services, consular services abroad, mutual assistance in criminal matters and avoidance of double taxation. Canada is Australia's 21st largest merchandise trading partner, with two-way merchandise trade amounting to $4.7 billion in 2010–11.

Australia and Canada co-operate closely in key international forums such as the G20, UN and Commonwealth including on international economic and trade issues, security, counter-terrorism, human rights and environmental issues. As agricultural exporting countries, Australia and Canada co-operate in the WTO and as members of the Cairns Group working towards freer trade in agricultural products.

Latin America

In recognition of the growing significance of Latin America to Australia's interests, Australia has strengthened bilateral engagement and further developed links with regional organisations. Australia re-opened its Embassy in Peru in September 2010 and concluded an MOU for the Establishment of an Enhanced Partnership with Brazil in September 2010. The then Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr Rudd, issued a Joint Declaration on further co-operation between Australia, New Zealand and Mercosur (a customs union comprising Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay). Australia worked with Mexico in the lead-up to Mexico's chairing of the G20 and through joint engagement in the Green Climate Fund Transitional Committee.

Latin America is an important destination for Australian investment, primarily in the mining and mining services sectors. Total two-way merchandise trade was valued at $7.4 billion in 2010–11, an increase of 16% from the previous year. Latin America is one of the fastest-growing sources of foreign students in Australia, with over 33,000 enrolments in 2010.

The Council on Australia Latin America Relations, founded in 2001, contributes to Australia's economic, political and cultural relations with Latin America. The Council facilitates high-level visits and youth exchanges and funds projects in fields such as trade, education, film and sports.


Australia’s friendly relations with countries in the Caribbean are based on shared sporting, social and political ties and membership of the Commonwealth. Australia co-operates with many Caribbean countries in international organisations such as the United Nations. Australia formally established relations with the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) in November 2009 and reaffirmed the growing partnership at the CARICOM Foreign Ministers meeting in Perth in November 2011. Australia and Belize are home to two of the largest coral reefs in the world; from 2012 Australia will co-host the International Coral Reef Initiative with Belize, working collaboratively to preserve threatened habitats.


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Statistics contained in the Year Book are the most recent available at the time of preparation. In many cases, the ABS website and the websites of other organisations provide access to more recent data. Each Year Book table or graph and the bibliography at the end of each chapter provides hyperlinks to the most up to date data release where available.