Annual Report 2004-2005
 

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1. Overviews2. Performance3. Corporate4. Appendixes5. Financials6. Glossaries and Compliance Index

Your location: Performance > Outcome 1 > Output 1.1 > 1.1.3 Americas and Europe

OUTPUT 1.1: Protection and advocacy of Australia's international interests through the provision of policy advice to ministers and overseas diplomatic activity

1.1.3 Americas and Europe

On this page: Overview :: United States :: North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) :: Europe :: Canada :: Latin America

Overview

The department played a leading role in strengthening Australia's relationships with key allies and partners on both sides of the Atlantic in areas vital to Australian economic, political and security interests.

The Australia–US Free Trade Agreement (AUSFTA), Australia's most significant bilateral economic agreement, entered into force on 1 January 2005, providing new trade and investment opportunities for Australian business. The department worked to secure Congressional passage for the agreement and to help business take advantage of new market openings. The strength and vitality of the alliance with the United States was confirmed through successful Australia–US Ministerial (AUSMIN) consultations. A significant program of high-level visits helped advance trade and security objectives.

The department engaged Europe both bilaterally and multilaterally, expanding our relationships with individual countries in Europe and as member states of the European Union. Our advocacy of closer European engagement on Asia–Pacific security matters yielded positive results.

United States

The department's efforts to advance Australia's economic, security and people-to-people links with the United States produced a number of significant outcomes. We led a major advocacy campaign to encourage US Congressional support for the AUSFTA, which passed Congress in July 2004 by large margins and entered into force on 1 January 2005 (see output 1.1.5 for more information). We worked to make Australian business aware of the new opportunities opened up by the AUSFTA. With Austrade, we developed a website (www.fta.gov.au) to provide comprehensive information on the agreement, which Mr Vaile launched on 27 April 2005. To improve understanding of the FTA, we provided technical and practical advice in response to hundreds of Australian commercial inquiries by telephone and email. Important commitments under the AUSFTA were met through inaugural meetings of bilateral committees on sanitary and phytosanitary matters and professional services, which the department co-chaired.

An intense program of high-level visits provided opportunities to share perspectives and shape US views. Building on a successful program of US Congressional visits aimed at winning support for the AUSFTA, we hosted more than 31 congressional staffers and five members or senators. These visits strengthened support for Australia in the US Congress and advanced important national interests, including Congressional support for a new category (E-3) of visa created specifically for Australian business. The department supported three visits by Mr Downer to the United States for meetings with senior US leaders and visits by six federal members and premiers.

The strength of alliance relations was reaffirmed during Australia–US Ministerial (AUSMIN) consultations in Washington in July 2004, attended by Mr Downer and Senator Hill. Outcomes included new commitments to strengthen Australia–US military interoperability and to cooperate on missile defence. Over the course of the year, we encouraged greater intelligence-sharing and worked closely with the United States in support of Iraq's efforts to consolidate its new democracy and defeat terrorism. We advanced shared counter-proliferation and counter-terrorism objectives (see sub-outputs 1.1.4 and 1.1.8 for more information).

The department provided analysis and advice to ministers on the November 2004 US election and worked to maintain Australia's standing and influence with new members of the second Bush Administration. We supported Mr Downer's visit to Washington in May 2005 to meet the new US Secretary of State, Dr Condoleezza Rice, and Mr Vaile's meetings with his new counterpart, US Trade Representative, Robert Portman.

In January 2005, the department again strengthened Australia's economic and political links with California through a major 'Australia Week' promotion, which Mr Downer attended. The event saw a large increase in participation by Australian companies with around 150 represented. High profile Australian attendees generated significant positive media coverage in the US West Coast. The promotion of Australia as a safe and reliable supplier of liquefied natural gas (LNG) was an important commercial focus of the event.

FIGURE 10. AUSTRALIA'S TRADE IN GOODS(a) AND SERVICES WITH THE UNITED STATES

FIGURE 10. AUSTRALIA'S TRADE IN GOODS(a) AND SERVICES WITH THE UNITED STATES
(a) Goods data is on a recorded trade basis.

Source: DFAT Stars database.

North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO)

The department advanced practical cooperation with NATO, building on our shared interests in countering terrorism, weapons of mass destruction (WMD) proliferation and the threat posed by weak and failing states. We made significant progress towards this objective in March–April 2005 when Jaap de Hoop Scheffer became the first NATO Secretary General to make an official visit to Australia. We achieved four major outcomes:

These outcomes established a framework to develop further practical cooperation.

Europe

European Union

The department supported the work of our ministers in managing Australia's response to a period of major change within the European Union, resulting from its enlargement from 15 to 25 members and the changeover of key EU decision makers in the European Commission. We coordinated Mr Downer's visit to Brussels and consultations with the Luxembourg EU Presidency in February 2005 when he registered Australia's priorities with several new European Commissioners, including Commission President Barroso.

We worked with other agencies to advance bilateral cooperation with the EU under the Australia–European Union: An Agenda for Cooperation action plan, adopted in 2003. We increased bilateral cooperation by securing EU support for the Jakarta Centre for Law Enforcement Cooperation (see sub-output 1.1.8). We initiated consultations with the EU on the issue of arms sales in the Asia Pacific region, securing an understanding on the importance of stringent export controls for regional security. The EU undertook to consult Australia in its decision-making on matters affecting security in our region.

Under the Agenda for Cooperation, in close consultation with the Australian Federal Police, we began negotiations for an agreement with the European Police Office (Europol) to combat terrorism and transnational crime, including drug trafficking and people smuggling.

We supported air services discussions with the European Commission and member states, which led to agreement on a mandate to negotiate a comprehensive and fullyliberalised Air Services Agreement with the EU. This is a positive start to negotiations for an agreement that would significantly strengthen our commercial relationship with Europe.

With a number of large Australian companies, we successfully secured the UK Government's agreement to non-mandatory implementation of elements of the EU Takeovers Directive to protect the voting rights of Australian shareholders in Australia/ UK dual-listed companies.

The department continued to conduct high-level lobbying to urge EU agricultural reform. Mr Vaile pressed for ambitious outcomes on agriculture in the Doha Round negotiations in his January 2005 discussions with the new European Commissioners for Trade and Agriculture, while registering Australia's concerns about the EU's decision to resume wheat export subsidies (see sub-output 1.1.5 for more information).

The department, in association with Austrade, updated the publication ExportEU, a guide to help Australian exporters understand the complex EU single market.

FIGURE 11. AUSTRALIA'S TRADE IN GOODS(a) AND SERVICES WITH THE EUROPEAN UNION

FIGURE 11. AUSTRALIA'S TRADE IN GOODS(a) AND SERVICES WITH THE EUROPEAN UNION
(a) Goods data is on a recorded trade basis.

Source: DFAT Stars database.

Europe—bilateral relationships

To advance cooperation in dealing with security challenges, including international terrorism, the department supported a number of high-level visits to the United Kingdom, including by the Governor-General, Prime Minister and Foreign Minister. These visits helped entrench our collaborative partnership with the United Kingdom across a range of shared interests, including on consular, political, military and aid responses to the Indian Ocean tsunami. We worked closely with the UK Government to ensure positive outcomes for Australian business and investment interests in the United Kingdom, including in the implementation of EU regulations. Significant progress was made on the repatriation of Indigenous human remains, including on the return of holdings from UK institutions.

The department coordinated the visit to Australia in February 2005 by German Foreign Minister Fischer. The visit further strengthened bilateral relations and resulted in a range of initiatives to underpin regional security and stability. Initiatives included the joint reconstruction of the Banda Aceh hospital in the wake of the Indian Ocean tsunami, and German financial support for the Jakarta Centre for Law Enforcement Cooperation and for the election process in Bougainville. We also initiated economic and trade discussions with Switzerland to promote Swiss investment in Australia.

The department supported Mr Downer's visit to Paris in February 2005, which strengthened bilateral dialogue and cooperation with France on security and other key global issues, including counter-terrorism capacity building in South-East Asia. We worked with French and New Zealand officials to expand our cooperation with France in the South Pacific by extending to the region our existing successful cooperation in the Southern Ocean on measures to combat illegal fishing.

The department worked with counterparts in the Netherlands to increase bilateral cooperation on international security and trade liberalisation. We welcomed Dutch efforts to strengthen counter-terrorism measures in our region through its support for the Jakarta Centre for Law Enforcement Cooperation in Indonesia, and its commitment to a successful outcome in the Doha negotiations.

The Governor-General's first official visit to Russia in May 2005, supported by the department, was a significant boost for the bilateral relationship. The Governor-General represented Australia at the commemoration ceremony for the 60th Anniversary of the Victory in the Great Patriotic War (World War II). He opened the first ever Australia Week in Moscow, a major Austrade-led export promotion. We supported an Australian parliamentary visit to Russia in April 2005, which strengthened bilateral parliamentary links. We worked with other agencies to finalise negotiations on a bilateral veterinary cooperation agreement to improve access for Australian meat exports to Russia, we continued WTO accession negotiations with Russia, and we helped resolve a dispute about Qantas overflight rights across Russia.

The department provided direct support for democracy in Ukraine. We provided modest assistance through the direct aid program (DAP) to Ukrainian non-government organisations to monitor and conduct outreach programs to help ensure that the re-run of the presidential election, on 26 December 2004, was free and fair. Australia also sent an official delegation, led by our Ambassador to Ukraine, to monitor this election.

The department intensified Australia's strategic engagement with influential NATO member and new member of the European Union, Poland, through senior officials' talks hosted in Canberra in November 2004. We lobbied for and facilitated the opening of negotiations for a bilateral agreement between the Polish Environment Ministry and the Department of Industry, Tourism and Resources to enhance prospects for the export of Australian environmental technologies, goods and services to Poland.

The department supported a visit to Australia by the Hungarian State Secretary for Foreign Affairs in June 2005 as a further step in increasing our strategic engagement with new EU members.

The department supported visits to Australia by the prime ministers of both Sweden and Norway. These visits demonstrated the increased attention paid to Australia by Scandinavian nations, eager to improve trade links and exchange views on regional and global strategic developments. The first official visit by Crown Prince Frederik and Princess Mary from 25 February to 11 March 2005, following their wedding in 2004, further increased Australia's profile in Denmark.

Photo - See caption below for description
Australia's then Ambassador to the Russian Federation Leslie Rowe presents 'Kenny Koalas' to Vladimir Gugkaev, the representative of the President of the Northern Osetia and Alania. The Kenny Koalas were donated by the Australian Federal Police for victims of the hostage situation at School No 1 in Beslan, Northern Osetia.
Enlarge image :: Photo gallery

Assistance for victims of the Beslan terrorist attack

In September 2004 terrorists attacked a school in Beslan, Russia, leaving over 340 people dead. In response the department, working with AusAID, organised the Government's prompt provision of $100 000 to help with medical assistance for victims hospitalised after the attack. We supported other agencies and organisations in providing aid for the Beslan victims, including by organising the delivery and distribution of toys for children who survived the attack, donated through an Australian Federal Police appeal.

The department contributed to a range of initiatives to advance our historical, political, security and trade interests with Turkey (see box below).

Photo - See caption below for description
Minister for Trade Mr Mark Vaile (right) and Mr Kursad Tuzman, Turkish Minister of State in Charge of Foreign Trade, sign an Investment Protection and Promotion Agreement on 16 June 2005 at Parliament House, Canberra. Photo: Courtesy of the Embassy of the Republic of Turkey
Enlarge image :: Photo gallery

Relations with Turkey on a new footing

The Prime Minister visited Turkey from 25 to 26 April 2005 to attend the 90th anniversary of the Gallipoli landings, and to meet his Turkish counterpart, Mr Erdogan.

Mr Howard announced a range of initiatives to develop our bilateral relations, including joint engineering and historical/archaeological studies of the Anzac area, a scholarship program, and an agreement to explore working holiday arrangements.

The department instituted an expanded trade dialogue with Turkey. Mr Vaile visited Istanbul in May 2005 to attend an Asian Development Bank meeting and meet Turkish ministers. An investment promotion and protection agreement was signed during a visit to Australia in June 2005 by the Turkish Minister for Foreign Trade.

The department contributed to the 90th anniversary Anzac commemorations in Gallipoli, working closely with Turkey and New Zealand to ensure a safe environment for the increased numbers of Australians (over 14 000) who attended this year. At our invitation, the Governor of Canakkale, the province in which Gallipoli is located, visited Australia in February 2005 to build a better appreciation in Turkey of Australia's interest in the Gallipoli area, including our approach to the preservation of historic sites.

We worked closely with Greece to ensure an appropriate level of security for all Australians attending the Olympic and Paralympic Games in August and September 2004. We helped Australian companies win contracts for the Games valued at around $180 million. We supported a visit by the Prime Minister to Athens in April 2005.

The department assisted the work of Australia's Special Envoy for Cyprus, Mr Jim Short, in support of international efforts to reunite Cyprus. The Special Envoy undertook a round of international consultations, including visits to Cyprus, Greece, Turkey and Brussels in May–June 2005. We contributed to a review resulting in the extension of tenure of Australia's 15 personnel attached to the UN Civilian Police Force in Cyprus.

TABLE 7. AUSTRALIA'S TRADE IN GOODS AND SERVICES WITH EUROPE
  Export Export   Import Import  
Goods(a) and Services 2003
$ million
2004
$ million
Trend Growth
1999–2004
2003
$ million
2004
$ million
Trend Growth
1999–2004
United Kingdom 11 112 8 882 8.3% 9 249 9 668 0.0%
Germany 2 088 2 159 0.9% 9 152 9 440 8.0%
Italy 1 812 1 639 -1.9% 4 574 4 945 8.3%
France 1 403 1 361 3.8% 4 381 5 076 15.4%
Netherlands 1 646 1 978 4.5% 1 746 1 840 5.2%
Total European
Union 25 22 277 20 598 4.7% 38 995 42 074 6.8%
Non-EU East
Europe(b) 402 397 3.1% 186 209 17.8%
Other Europe 1 392 1 355 -1.6% 3 226 3 713 5.7%
Total 24 071 22 350 4.3% 42 407 45 996 6.7%

(a) Goods data is on a recorded trade basis.

(b) Data for merchandise trade only, services data is not available.

Source: DFAT Stars database and ABS International trade in services by partner country 2004.

Canada

Reflecting Canada's position as a close and valued partner to Australia in many fields, the department moved quickly to continue our productive relations with the new Canadian government elected on 28 June 2004. We helped deliver access for Australian game meat to the Canadian market. Australia's position as a honey and wine exporter to Canada was strengthened through our lobbying and advice. We supported a successful visit to Australia by a parliamentary delegation on national security, continuing the bilateral exchange on common public policy challenges. Our lobbying helped secure Canada's commitment to contribute to the Jakarta Centre for Law Enforcement Cooperation and highlighted our close cooperation on a range of international security issues.

Latin America and the Caribbean

The department led Australia's enhanced engagement with Latin America through the negotiation of new bilateral agreements to promote trade and industry, advocacy of Australian strategic and commercial interests, and support for high-level visits. We advanced Australian interests in trade liberalisation, environmental protection, fisheries management and the reform of the United Nations.

With Austrade, in May 2005 the department supported education, trade and tourism promotion 'festivals' in five major Latin American markets (Mexico, Brazil, Argentina, Chile and Peru). The festivals introduced a range of innovative Australian products, education services and culture to more than 14 000 visitors, resulting in direct sales, applications to undertake study in Australia and positive publicity about Australia in the media.

The department supported the Council on Australia Latin American Relations, implementing with other Commonwealth agencies several major Council strategies to build stronger economic links with Latin America and raise Australia's profile there. The Council sponsored a well-received Aboriginal cultural act that toured Latin America in conjunction with the May 2005 trade festivals, sponsored visits to Latin America by two Australian arts festival directors and supported government efforts to promote tourism and education (see sub-output 3.1.2 for more information).

The department continued to strengthen Australia's network of formal trade and investment arrangements with Mexico, supporting the successful negotiation of new agreements, including a memorandum of understanding on energy cooperation, an air services agreement and an investment promotion and protection agreement. Through promotional activities, we deepened Mexico's interest in a wide range of Australian goods and services, and continued to promote Australian credentials as a supplier of liquefied natural gas and coal to help meet Mexico's growing energy needs.

The department pursued a trade-focused work program with Chile, building on Chile's hosting of APEC meetings in 2004. We organised promotional activities around the visits to Santiago by the Prime Minister and senior ministers in support of Australian commercial interests in November 2004. We maintained a high level of advocacy on mining sector issues in support of Australian commercial interests.

The department worked successfully to encourage the Argentine Lower House to approve a bilateral Nuclear Cooperation Agreement, which occurred in December 2004. The agreement provides for enhanced research and commercial opportunities flowing from the construction of a replacement research reactor at Lucas Heights in Sydney by Argentine company INVAP. The department worked closely with Argentina to advocate common positions in multilateral forums, including the Cairns Group and the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources.

The department celebrated the 60th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Australia and Brazil in 2005 with targeted promotions to highlight bilateral cooperation in the United Nations and international trade forums, such as the Cairns Group. We supported a visit to Brazil in May 2005 by Dr Nelson, Minister for Education, Science and Training, which resulted in a memorandum of understanding on education cooperation, and a visit to Australia by Brazil's Agriculture Minister, Dr Rodriguez, that gave further impetus to collaboration in areas such as ethanol production. We hosted a bilateral senior officials meeting in February 2005 that identified opportunities to intensify cooperation between the Cairns Group and the G20 (a developing country trade group of which Brazil is a leading member) on trade liberalisation issues.

The department led Australia's participation in the CER–Mercosur Dialogue held in Brasilia in November 2004. In that dialogue, Australia and New Zealand explored options for closer economic cooperation with the members of Mercosur, South America's most significant regional trade agreement (comprising Brazil, Uruguay, Paraguay and Argentina).

The successful establishment of Australia's high commission in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago facilitated greater support for Australia's commercial interests in the Caribbean region, following a decision to move the high commission from Barbados. The department achieved a higher profile for Australia through its support of the Australia Caribbean Community Sports Development Program and Trinidad's preparations for the 2007 Cricket World Cup.

TABLE 8. AUSTRALIA'S TRADE IN GOODS AND SERVICES WITH THE AMERICAS
  Export Export   Import Import  
Goods(a) and Services 2003
$ million
2004
$ million
Trend Growth
1999–2004
2003
$ million
2004
$ million
Trend Growth
1999–2004
United States 14 199 13 941 -0.3% 26 674 26 665 -0.9%
Canada 2 144 2 425 7.8% 2 174 2 289 1.6%
Mexico 464 443 9.4% 621 724 10.5%
Total NAFTA 16 824 16 822 0.9% 29 730 29 965 -0.5%
Total Caribbean 155 187 -1.0% 544 550 7.3%
Brazil (b) 463 561 2.9% 484 547 3.8%
Chile 136 167 0.2% 208 167 15.0%
Argentina (b) 87 80 -4.8% 189 169 18.3%
Total South America (b) 847 954 3.5% 938 925 8.1%
Total 18 032 18 175 0.8% 31 500 31 699 -0.1%

(a) Goods data is on a recorded trade basis.

(b) Data for merchandise trade only, services data is not available.

Source: DFAT Stars database and ABS International trade in services by partner country 2004.

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