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Australian Government - Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade

Advancing the interests of Australia and Australians internationally

Australian Government - Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade

Advancing the interests of Australia and Australians internationally



1.1.1 North Asia

Overview

Photo - See caption below for description
The then Minister for Trade, Mr Crean, meeting with the Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry of Japan, Mr Masayuki Naoshima, at the Australia-Japan Trade and Economic Ministerial Dialogue in Tokyo on 27 October 2009.

North Asia is of considerable strategic and economic importance to Australia. Its markets account for over half of Australia’s merchandise exports, and its continued stability and prosperity have direct implications for Australia’s national interests.

During the year, the department further strengthened Australia’s ties with North Asia and promoted the Government’s political, economic and strategic goals in the region. We supported visits to China, Japan and the Republic of Korea (ROK) by the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr Smith, and the then Minister for Trade, Mr Crean. We hosted a visit to Australia by Japan’s Foreign Minister and assisted with visits by China’s Vice-President and Executive Vice-Premier.

We promoted Australia’s economic interests through ongoing negotiations of free trade agreements (FTAs) with China, Japan and the ROK and support for the Australian pavilion at the Shanghai World Expo 2010.

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TABLE 2. AUSTRALIA’S TRADE IN GOODS AND SERVICES WITH NORTH ASIAN ECONOMIES (a)

 
Exports
Exports
Imports
Imports
Goods and services
2008
$m
2009
$m
Trend
growth 2004–2009
%
2008
$m
2009
$m
Trend
growth 2004–2009
%
Japan
53,129
40,389
11.6
22,783
18,821
2.0
China
37,123
47,991
27.3
36,870
37,252
15.2
Republic of Korea
20,248
17,467
12.8
7,013
6,948
5.9
Taiwan
8,754
7,086
9.7
4,761
3,606
1.1
Hong Kong, China
4,659
4,601
1.5
3,504
3,075
2.8
Other (b)
60
72
3.0
20
17
–3.4
Total North Asia
123,973
117,606
15.8
74,951
69,719
8.3

(a) Goods data on a recorded trade basis, services data on a balance of payments basis.
(b) Goods data only. Services data is not published by the ABS for these countries.
Based on DFAT STARS database and ABS catalogue 5368.0.55.004.

Japan

The department helped strengthen Australia’s comprehensive economic, security and strategic partnership with Japan. We led the implementation of activities under the 2007 Australia–Japan Joint Declaration on Security Cooperation (JDSC) and forged a bilateral agreement on a revised Action Plan that sets new objectives under the JDSC. We also contributed to bilateral negotiations that resulted in the signing of an Acquisition and Cross-Servicing Agreement (ACSA). This will enable closer cooperation between Australian and Japanese defence forces in international operations, such as peacekeeping, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief.

Photo - See caption below for description
The Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr Smith, meeting the Japanese Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr Katsuya Okada, in Tokyo on 19 May 2010.

We supported high-level visits to Japan, advancing Australia’s strategic interests. These included a visit to Tokyo in December 2009 by the then Prime Minister, Mr Rudd, to discuss climate change, security cooperation, and nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament. We supported a visit to Japan in May 2010 by Mr Smith and the Minister for Defence, Senator Faulkner, including to attend the third Australia–Japan ‘2+2’ meeting of foreign and defence ministers at which the ACSA was signed. In February 2010, the department organised a Guest-of-Government visit to Australia by Japan’s Foreign Minister, Mr Katsuya Okada, during which Mr Smith and Mr Okada released a joint statement reaffirming Japan and Australia’s commitment to strengthening nuclear security in the Asia-Pacific.

The department supported Mr Crean in co-chairing with his Japanese counterpart, Mr Masayuki Naoshima, the inaugural Australia–Japan Trade and Economic Ministerial Dialogue in Tokyo in October 2009. We also supported Mr Crean’s visit to Japan in June 2010, to attend an APEC meeting in Sapporo and conduct bilateral meetings in Tokyo. The department led three negotiating rounds with Japan on a comprehensive FTA (see sub-program 1.1.7). We worked to ensure our differences on whaling did not disrupt the broader relationship.

Japan was Australia’s second-largest trading partner in 2009 and our largest export market for coal, LNG, copper ores and concentrates, beef, dairy products and cereals other than wheat. Japan was our third-largest source of foreign investment in 2009.

We organised the sixth Australia–Japan Conference, held in Canberra in February 2010, bringing together senior representatives from politics, business, academia and the media to explore new ideas to advance the bilateral relationship. We also provided secretariat support for the Australia–Japan Foundation (see sub-program 1.1.13).

FIGURE 5. Australia’s trade in goods and services with Japan (a)

FIGURE 5. Australia’s trade in goods and services with Japan

(a) Goods data on a recorded trade basis, services data on a balance of payments basis.
Based on DFAT STARS database and ABS catalogue 5368.0.55.004.

China

Photo - See caption below for description
The then Minister for Trade, Mr Crean, leading economic talks with China in Beijing on 17 May 2010.
Photo: Courtesy of China’s National Development and Reform Commission

Following a period of political tension in mid-2009 prompted by a series of bilateral irritants, the department helped re-establish a constructive relationship with China, based on a frank appreciation of shared interests and mutual respect. Economic links were strengthened and diversified. We continued to engage China on key international issues including the G20 and the recovery of the international economy, climate change and ongoing efforts to conclude the World Trade Organization (WTO) Doha Round. We also made targeted representations on human rights.

In support of these efforts, the department facilitated a series of high-level visits to China, including those by the Governor-General, Mr Smith, Mr Crean and parliamentary delegations led by the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Mr Jenkins, and the President of the Senate, Senator Hogg. A keynote address in October 2009 at the Australian National University by Mr Smith on Australia’s relations with China opened the way for a successful visit to Australia by Executive Vice-Premier Li Keqiang later that month. Vice-President Xi Jinping’s visit to Australia in June 2010 affirmed the positive trend in relations.

Australia’s trade and investment relationship with China continued to grow strongly. China was Australia’s largest two-way trading partner in 2009, with total trade in goods and services valued at $85.2 billion, an increase of 15.2 per cent over the previous year. This was underpinned by strong growth in our exports of resources and energy. Australian exports of iron ore to China grew by 22 per cent in 2009 and coal exports increased by over 1000 per cent, making this our second-largest export commodity, after iron ore. China became our second-largest source of foreign investment proposals during the year, heavily weighted towards mining.

We worked closely with other agencies and industry to support our commercial relationship with China. The annual High-Level Economic Cooperation Dialogue, co-chaired by Mr Crean in Beijing in May 2010, focused on investment, resources and energy and climate change issues. With Austrade, we led the Government’s second-track commercial diplomacy initiative to match Australian industry strengths in automotives, agribusiness, clean energy and sustainable urban planning with opportunities in China’s fast growing inland provinces. We continued to pursue a high-quality and comprehensive FTA with China (see sub-program 1.1.7).

With our support, the inaugural CEO Roundtable in June 2010 saw 25 top business leaders from Australia and China consider ways to strengthen business ties. The Australia–China Economic and Trade Forum, also in June 2010, brought together 500 business people on both sides to discuss trade and investment. We again supported the Australia–China Business Council Networking Day, held at Parliament House in March 2010, where ministers set out the Government’s priorities in economic relations with China.

Photo - See caption below for description
The then Deputy Prime Minister, now Prime Minister, Ms Gillard, welcoming the Chinese Executive Vice-Premier, Mr Li Keqiang, to a bilateral meeting in Sydney on 30 October 2009.
Photo: Pool / Getty Images News

With strong input from the business and arts communities, we led Australia’s engagement at the Shanghai World Expo 2010. The Expo opened on 1 May 2010 for six months. We expect to receive over seven million visitors to our pavilion.

Under the Special Visits Program, we hosted a visit by the Mayor of Foshan in Guangdong Province, highlighting Australian capabilities in financial services and clean energy. We also helped arrange a visit by five Chinese journalists under the International Media Visits Program. This focused on the resources and investment relationship, and generated a volume of informed and balanced reporting.

In June 2010, the launch of the Year of Australian Culture in China set the stage for reinforcing people-to-people links and showcasing Australian culture in China over the coming year. We provided secretariat support to the Australia–China Council (see sub-program 1.1.13).

FIGURE 6. AUSTRALIA’S TRADE IN GOODS AND SERVICES WITH CHINA (a)

FIGURE 6. Australia’s trade in goods and services with China

(a) Goods data on a recorded trade basis, services data on a balance of payments basis.
Based on DFAT STARS database and ABS catalogue 5368.0.55.004.

Taiwan

In 2009, Australia’s exports to Taiwan were valued at $7.1 billion, making this our ninth-largest export market. The department supported these growing economic ties through convening the 14th round of bilateral economic consultations, with the main focuses on strengthening investment relations and cooperation in clean energy. We also conducted an active and successful public diplomacy program in Taiwan, by sponsoring high-profile Australian visits to promote science, culture, technology and the arts.

FIGURE 7. AUSTRALIA’S TRADE IN GOODS AND SERVICES WITH TAIWAN (a)

FIGURE 7. Australia’s trade in goods and services with Taiwan

(a) Goods data on a recorded trade basis, services data on a balance of payments basis.
Based on DFAT STARS database and ABS catalogue 5368.0.55.004.

Hong Kong

The department worked closely with the Australian business community to advance our substantial commercial interests there. We supported a visit to Hong Kong by the Minister for Financial Services, Mr Bowen, to promote the Government’s strategy of positioning Australia as a leading financial service centre in the region.

Macau

We continued to support Australian business interests in Macau through the Australian consulate-general in Hong Kong. Gaming and associated enterprises in construction and food/beverage services attracted significant Australian trade and investment.

Republic of Korea (ROK)

The department led whole-of-government efforts to strengthen Australia’s growing strategic partnership with the ROK. These included a review of Australia–ROK security cooperation that resulted in bilateral ministerial agreement on a Revised Action Plan on Enhanced Global and Security Cooperation. Areas of enhanced cooperation include: defence, law enforcement, counter-terrorism, disarmament and non-proliferation and development cooperation.

We supported the Australian Government’s response to the sinking of the ROK navy vessel, the Cheonan, including by working closely with the Department of Defence on Australia’s participation in a ROK-led international investigation. We also engaged key regional countries and United Nations Security Council members to advocate in favour of a meaningful international response to the attack by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK).

FIGURE 8. AUSTRALIA’S TRADE IN GOODS AND SERVICES WITH THE REPUBLIC OF KOREA (a)

FIGURE 8. Australia’s trade in goods and services with the Republic of Korea

(a) Goods data on a recorded trade basis, services data on a balance of payments basis.
Based on DFAT STARS database and ABS catalogue 5368.0.55.004.

Photo - See caption below for description
The Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr Smith, meeting with Republic of Korea Minister of National Defence, General Kim Tae-young, in Seoul on 15 December 2009.
Photo: Courtesy of ROK Ministry of National Defence

The ROK is Australia’s fourth-largest export market. We worked closely with other agencies and industry to support commercial interests, especially exports of resources and energy. We made good progress towards a comprehensive bilateral FTA, conducting four rounds of negotiations during the year (see sub-program 1.1.7).

We coordinated whole-of-government cooperation with the ROK across the full range of regional and global issues, including advancing WTO negotiations and strengthening regional architecture. We worked closely with our ROK counterparts in entrenching the G20 as the premier forum for global economic cooperation and in support of the ROK’s hosting of a G20 summit in November 2010.

The department supported visits to the ROK by Mr Crean in October 2009, including to advance FTA negotiations, and by Mr Smith in December 2009, including to review Australia–ROK security cooperation. We also supported visits to the ROK by: the Parliamentary Secretary for Trade, Mr Byrne, who represented Australia at the funeral of former ROK President Kim Dae-jung; Senator Forshaw, Chair, Joint Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade; and a parliamentary delegation led by the President of the Senate, Senator Hogg. Under the Special Visits Program (SVP), we hosted visits by ROK National Assembly member, Representative Cho Yoon-sun, and Secretary to the ROK President for National Future and Vision, Dr Kim Sang-hyup.

Working with our ROK counterpart, we organised a 1.5-track dialogue, held in Seoul in May 2010. Australian and ROK participants from politics, government, business, academia and the media explored ways to strengthen Australia–Korea ties. We also worked with the Departments of Defence and Veterans’ Affairs to support Australian veterans commemorating the 60th anniversary of the beginning of the Korean War. We provided secretariat support to the Australia–Korea Foundation (see sub-program 1.1.13).

Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK)

Supporting international efforts to find a peaceful resolution to the Korean Peninsula nuclear issue, the department continued to work closely with the United States, Japan, the ROK and other countries. We urged the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) to abandon its nuclear weapons program, return to full compliance with the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and implement commitments made previously in the Six-Party Talks. We also raised directly with the DPRK Australia’s concerns about its human rights record and co-sponsored resolutions in the United Nations General Assembly and Human Rights Council to focus international attention on the human rights situation in the DPRK.

Mongolia

The department supported an expansion in Australia’s relations with Mongolia, in areas such as development cooperation, commerce and parliamentary relations. We promoted Australia as a reliable investor and partner in the sustainable development of Mongolia’s mining sector and explored other ways to expand Australian involvement in Mongolia. We also continued to help Mongolia create an effective and transparent legal framework for business. This will benefit Australian companies.

In July 2009, we supported a visit to Mongolia by an Australian parliamentary delegation and, in April 2010, one by the Governor of New South Wales. We also supported the second Australia–Mongolia Joint Minerals and Energy Working Group meeting held in Canberra in August 2009, as well as a number of high-level visits from Mongolia to Australia, including those by several parliamentarians and a delegation of state secretaries.

Outlook

The department will work with North Asian partners to promote regional stability and Australia’s economic interests.

Building on existing cooperative arrangements and bilateral dialogues, we will strengthen Australia’s strategic engagement in the North Asian region. We will engage these governments on major international priorities for Australia, such as climate change, global financial governance, regional architecture and nuclear non-proliferation.

We will promote Australia’s business interests in these important markets and will pursue a successful outcome to FTA negotiations with China, Japan and the ROK.

We will work with our regional partners and the United States to help encourage a negotiated settlement of the DPRK nuclear issue.

Next page: 1.1.2 South-East Asia
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Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade