1301.0 - Year Book Australia, 2012  
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Int Relations



Australia attaches high priority to its longstanding relationship with the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN). ASEAN is a key regional institution comprising Brunei Darussalam, Burma (Myanmar), Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam. Australia was the first country to become an ASEAN dialogue partner, in 1974. Since then, ASEAN-Australia co-operation has grown to cover a wide range of areas including security, culture, trade, education and development. This co-operation is underpinned by agreements such as the ASEAN-Australia-New Zealand Free Trade Agreement (AANZFTA) and the Joint Declaration on an ASEAN-Australia Comprehensive Partnership.

Australian and ASEAN ministers and officials meet regularly through the ASEAN-Australia Post-Ministerial Conference and other ASEAN-related gatherings. The 2010 ASEAN-Australia Summit in Vietnam provided a further opportunity to deepen the relationship and to enhance co-operation in areas such as regional infrastructure development and migrant worker protection.


Australia's close and long-standing engagement in East Asia was bolstered further when Australia became a founding member of the East Asia Summit (EAS). Australia attended the inaugural Leaders' meeting in Kuala Lumpur on 14 December 2005. The EAS has a broad mandate to address the region's political, economic and security challenges. The EAS took an important step forward as the region’s pre-eminent forum to address political, economic and security challenges with the 2011 decision by leaders to expand the EAS to include the United States and Russia for the first time – a development strongly advocated by Australia.

The 18 EAS countries collectively represent 55% of the world's population and accounted for 53% of global GDP in 2010. With the 17 other EAS member countries accounting for 74% of Australia's goods and services exports, the grouping is of key economic and strategic importance.


Commitment to the United Nations is one of three pillars of Australia’s foreign policy. Australia has a strong record at the United Nations (UN). As one of the UN's founding members, Australia has been an active participant in its institutions and is the 12th largest contributor to the UN regular and peacekeeping budgets. Australia has provided over 65,000 personnel to more than 50 UN and other multilateral peace and security operations since 1947. Australia's interests in the UN's agenda are wide-ranging and include international security, the environment, human rights and the Millennium Development Goals. Australia is also represented on the governing councils of a number of UN bodies, programs and specialised agencies. As a candidate for the UN Security Council 2013–2014 term, Australia is seeking to make a strong and positive contribution to the Security Council’s vital work.


Australia is an active member of the Commonwealth, an association of 54 independent countries. Australia supports the strengthening of the Commonwealth’s focus on its core values of democracy, human rights, the rule of law and good governance, as well as targeted Commonwealth efforts to promote sustainable development and poverty alleviation. Australia hosted the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in October 2011, at which Commonwealth leaders agreed on significant steps to reform and revitalise the Commonwealth. Leaders agreed to conclude a Charter of Commonwealth Values in 2012 and to strengthen the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group to include a more proactive role in support of democracy. Leaders also agreed to actions to ensure the Commonwealth's effectiveness in supporting global responses to contemporary challenges, such as climate change, global economic recovery and food security.


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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.