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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

The department continued to shape Australia's relations in North Asia, a region key to our long-term security and prosperity. We worked to promote stability, security and strategic dialogue with regional partners, including through the signing of an information security agreement with Japan and by hosting the third round of the Australia–China Strategic Dialogue. We pursued with Japan shared non-proliferation objectives in multilateral forums, and contributed to the inaugural dialogue between the Minister for Defence, Mr Smith, and his counterpart from the Republic of Korea (ROK).

A number of high-level visits facilitated by the department and posts—including by the Prime Minister, the Deputy Prime Minister, the Minister for Foreign Affairs, the Minister for Trade and Competitiveness, and the Minister for Resources and Energy and Minister for Tourism—advanced Australia's security and economic interaction with the region.

Photo of The Minister for Foreign Affairs, Senator Carr, and his Japanese counterpart, Mr Koichiro Gemba, during the signing ceremony for the Australia–Japan Information Security Agreement at the Iikura guest house in Tokyo on 17 May 2012. Photo: AFP/Getty Images

The Minister for Foreign Affairs, Senator Carr, and his Japanese counterpart, Mr Koichiro Gemba, during the signing ceremony for the Australia–Japan Information Security Agreement at the Iikura guest house in Tokyo on 17 May 2012. Photo: AFP/Getty Images

With North Asian markets accounting for over half of Australia's merchandise exports, the department continued efforts to expand trade and investment ties in the region, including through negotiations on free trade agreements (FTAs) with Japan, China and the ROK. We worked with Austrade and the business community to target economic opportunities in China, including through a trade mission focused on fast-growing second-tier cities and an inaugural Services Sector Promotion Forum.

The Government announced it would expand Australia's presence in North Asia by establishing a new consulate-general in Ulaanbaatar to service our growing mining, investment and services interests and a consulate-general in Chengdu, to open in 2013, to take advantage of new growth areas in western China.

Table 1. Australia's trade in goods and services with North Asian economies (a)

 
Exports
Exports
 
Imports
Imports
 
Goods and services
2010
2011
Trend growth 2006–2011
2010
2011
Trend growth 2006–2011
 
$m
$m
%
$m
$m
%
China
64,295
77,117
28.1
40,907
43,938
10.3
Japan
45,665
52,384
7.4
20,405
20,076
0.4
Republic of Korea
22,381
25,024
11.7
7,706
7,644
2.2
Taiwan
8,930
9,670
7.5
3,883
3,977
-3.5
Hong Kong
4,856
4,765
0.7
3,075
3,151
-1.2
Other (b) (c)
58
90
0.9
18
16
-8.4
Total North Asia
146,185
169,050
15.0
75,994
78,802
5.1

(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.

(c) Other comprises Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Macau and Mongolia.

Based on DFAT STARS database and ABS catalogue 5368.0.55.004.

Japan

As Japan recovered from the natural disasters of March 2011, the department's focus shifted from emergency assistance to advancing the broadly-based bilateral relationship.

The department supported visits by both the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Senator Carr, and the Minister for Trade and Competitiveness, Dr Emerson, to Japan in May 2012. Senator Carr signed an information security agreement to provide a framework for deeper strategic cooperation. Dr Emerson participated in the third Australia–Japan Trade and Economic Ministers Dialogue. The department also facilitated a visit by Dr Emerson to Japan in October 2011 to sign the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement.

Japan was our second-largest trading partner in 2011 and our third-largest source of foreign investment. The department continued to advance bilateral trade and investment, including through negotiations on a high-quality, comprehensive free trade agreement (FTA) (also see Bilateral, regional and multilateral trade negotiations 1.1.7). We also worked to ensure that our differences on whaling did not disrupt the broader relationship.

The department worked closely with the Department of Defence and other agencies to extend our strategic cooperation with Japan. Under the department's Special Visits Program, upper house member and former senior vice-minister of defence, Kazuya Shimba, visited Australia in May 2012 for meetings on security and defence issues.

The department also facilitated a number of other high-level visits to and from Japan. These included visits by the Parliamentary Secretary for Pacific Island Affairs and Parliamentary Secretary for Foreign Affairs, Mr Marles, in May 2012 for the Pacific Islands Leaders' Meeting; the Minister for Resources and Energy and Minister for Tourism, Mr Ferguson, in July and September 2011; the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, Senator Ludwig, in December 2011 and Cabinet Secretary and Parliamentary Secretary for Climate Change and Energy Efficiency, Mr Dreyfus, in April 2012. The embassy supported Australia's participation in the Asia-Pacific Parliamentary Forum in January 2012.

We engaged Japanese counterparts to achieve shared objectives in regional and multilateral forums, including the East Asia Summit, APEC, the World Trade Organization, the G20 and the United Nations. Demonstrating our shared commitment to eliminating the spread of nuclear weapons, Australia and Japan co-chaired the Non-Proliferation and Disarmament Initiative in New York in September 2011, and the ASEAN Regional Forum Inter-Sessional Meeting on Non-proliferation and Disarmament in Sydney in March 2012.

The department also facilitated the transfer of historical records of former Australian prisoners of war, held by the Japanese during the Second World War, to the National Archives of Australia.

In November 2011, we hosted the seventh Australia–Japan Conference in Brisbane, bringing together senior representatives from politics, business and academia to explore ways to advance the relationship. The work of the Australia–Japan Foundation (AJF) focused on assisting the people of Tohoku to recover from the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami (also see Public information services and public diplomacy 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

China

The department worked to promote a comprehensive, constructive and cooperative relationship with China. We engaged China closely in regional and multilateral forums to take forward our shared interests in regional stability and prosperity. Bilaterally we pursued economic, political and strategic issues, including on sensitive matters such as human rights, consular issues and commercial disputes. Senator Carr's first visit to China as foreign minister in May 2012, where he met Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi and Vice-Premier Li Keqiang, provided a further opportunity to advance our interests.

Total trade with China grew by 15 per cent to $121 billion in 2011. The Government announced it would establish a consulate-general in Chengdu, to support Australia's growing commercial interests in central and western China.

The department continued FTA negotiations with China (also see Bilateral, regional and multilateral trade negotiations 1.1.7) and launched the next phase of economic engagement with China, targeting opportunities presented by China's emerging middle class and growing urbanisation. We organised with Austrade the Australia–China 2.0 trade mission in August 2011, led by the Minister for Trade, Dr Emerson and the Parliamentary Secretary for Pacific Island Affairs, Mr Marles which focused on opportunities in rapidly developing second-tier cities. More than 100 representatives from Australia's services sector accompanied the minister.

The Services Sector Promotion Forum, a new business-led bilateral policy dialogue, met in Beijing in May 2012 to take forward the agenda set during the Australia–China 2.0 trade mission. The department also led an ongoing joint study with China on strengthening bilateral cooperation in investment and technology in agriculture to address global food security concerns.

Photo of (R–L) The Minister for Trade and Competitiveness, Dr Emerson, Chinese Commerce Minister Chen Deming, the Minister for Infrastructure and Transport, Mr Albanese, and Chinese Ambassador, His Excellency Mr Chen Yuming, following the signing between Australia and China of the Memorandum of Understanding on Enhancing Cooperation in Infrastructure Construction at Parliament House, April 2012. Photo: Auspic/David Foote

(R–L) The Minister for Trade and Competitiveness, Dr Emerson, Chinese Commerce Minister Chen Deming, the Minister for Infrastructure and Transport, Mr Albanese, and Chinese Ambassador, His Excellency Mr Chen Yuming, following the signing between Australia and China of the Memorandum of Understanding on Enhancing Cooperation in Infrastructure Construction at Parliament House, April 2012. Photo: Auspic/David Foote

The department assisted Dr Emerson in his hosting of visits to Australia by Chinese Commerce Minister Chen Deming and Party Secretary of Guangdong Province Wang Yang in April and June 2012. Under the Special Visits Program, the department coordinated the visit to Australia of Vice-Mayor of Kunming, Mr Ruan Fengbin.

We continued to support cultural and artistic exchanges, including a program of events in advance of the 40th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Australia and China on 21 December 2012. The Experience China events in Australia in 2011–12 followed the highly successful Imagine Australia Year of Australian Culture in China. Together with the Australian National University, the department convened the inaugural meeting of the Australia–China Forum, a one and a half-track dialogue to discuss the entirety of the bilateral relationship including political, strategic, business, cultural and media aspects.

Economics and trade, education and science and culture and society were priority areas for the Australia–China Council (ACC) which continued to shape relations between Australia and China, Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan (also see Public information services and public diplomacy 1.1.13).

The department administered a grant of $3 million to the Australia and New Zealand School of Government (ANZSOG) to deliver a three-year China Advanced Leadership Program, a collaboration between ANZSOG and the Central Organisation Department of the Communist Party of China. The program seeks to expose future Chinese leaders to best practice governance in Australia and New Zealand, and to establish positive relationships with them.

Figure 6. Australia's trade in goods and services with China (a)

Figure 6. Australia's trade in goods and services with China

Taiwan

Taiwan was Australia's sixth-largest merchandise export market in 2011, valued at $9 billion. In January 2012, CPC Corporation entered into a fifteen-year contract for the supply of 1.75 million tonnes of Australian LNG per year worth $30 billion – the largest-ever Australian trade deal with Taiwan. The department assisted Mr Ferguson on a private visit to Taiwan to encourage growing investor interest in Australian resource projects. Bilateral economic consultations hosted by the department in June 2012 made headway on investment strategies, reaffirmed the joint focus on clean energy and advanced cooperation on food safety and science and technology.

Figure 7. Australia's trade in goods and services with Taiwan (a)

Figure 7. Australia's trade in goods and services with Taiwan

Hong Kong and Macau

Personal Profile:

Brendan Berne

Photo of Brendan Berne

In his role as Deputy Head of Mission at the Australian Embassy in Seoul, Brendan Berne works closely with the Ambassador to promote Australia's interests in the Republic of Korea (ROK), North Korea and Mongolia. In 2011, Brendan helped to deliver a series of cultural events marking 50 years of diplomatic relations between Australia and the ROK. In 2012, he oversaw the visit by Prime Minister Julia Gillard to Seoul to attend the Nuclear Security Summit. Brendan also led a delegation to Pyongyang in June to press for denuclearisation and economic reform.

In 2010–11, Brendan ran the department's APEC Branch where he shaped Australian policy through the key Japan and United States host years. A key milestone was the assessment Brendan led of APEC members' performance against the Bogor Goals of achieving free trade and investment by 2010. He also helped shape a new vision for APEC of a Seamless Regional Economy, which the US adopted as its theme for its host year in 2011.

After serving as Deputy Permanent Representative to the OECD in Paris from 2005 to 2008, Brendan returned to Sydney to run Government and Industry Relations for the Export Finance and Insurance Corporation where he helped secure Australian financial support for a new LNG facility and pipeline in PNG, the world's largest project finance transaction, which is projected to increase substantially the country's GDP and reduce poverty. Before joining DFAT, Brendan spent several years as an economist with the Reserve Bank of Australia.

"DFAT has given me the opportunity to work on issues of critical importance to Australia, to apply my expertise while branching into new areas and to work with a top-class team of professionals dedicated to serving the national interest."

Republic of Korea

The department led whole-of-government efforts to advance Australia's key political and economic interests in the Republic of Korea (ROK), a long-standing security partner and Australia's fourth-largest trading partner.

We facilitated high-level visits to the ROK, including the Prime Minister's visit to Seoul in March 2012 for the Nuclear Security Summit, and participation by Dr Emerson in Australia's feature day at the Yeosu Expo in May 2012 (also see P>ublic information services and public diplomacy 1.3). The department also supported visits to the ROK by Mr Ferguson in July 2011, to promote trade and investment in resources; the then Foreign Minister, Mr Rudd, in November 2011 to attend the Fourth High Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness in Busan; Senator Ludwig in December 2011 to promote Australian agricultural exports; the Minister for Industry and Innovationand Minister for Climate Change and Energy Efficiency, Mr Combet, in April 2012 to broaden cooperation on climate change issues; and the Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy, Senator Conroy, in May 2012 to promote Australia's information technology and skills at the Korea–Australia–New Zealand (KANZ) Broadband Summit and the World Information and Communications Summit.

Working closely with other agencies, the department further strengthened Australia's trade links with the ROK, our third-largest export market for goods and services. We encouraged ROK investment in Australia which is growing rapidly and includes POSCO's $1.3 billion stake in Hancock Prospecting's Roy Hill iron ore project in the Pilbara. We also led Australia's FTA negotiations with the ROK (also see Bilateral, regional and multilateral trade negotiations 1.1.7).

Photo of Prime Minister Gillard and the President of the Republic of Korea, Mr Lee Myung-bak, at a welcoming ceremony for the Nuclear Security Summit in Seoul, Republic of Korea, in March 2012. Photo: Getty Images

Prime Minister Gillard and the President of the Republic of Korea, Mr Lee Myung-bak, at a welcoming ceremony for the Nuclear Security Summit in Seoul, Republic of Korea, in March 2012. Photo: Getty Images

The department, with other agencies, gave practical effect to the 2009 bilateral Leaders' Statement on Enhanced Global and Security Co-operation with the ROK and continued to build cooperative links between Australian and ROK agencies. We contributed to the inaugural Defence Ministers' Dialogue between Mr Smith and his ROK counterpart, Kim Kwan-jin, in December 2011. The department led the Government's engagement with, and support for, the ROK on Korean Peninsula security matters (see below item on DPRK), including facilitating a visit to Canberra by ROK Six-Party Talks negotiator, Mr Lim Sung-nam, in June 2012. We also organised a dialogue on security cooperation involving senior Australian and ROK officials, academics and analysts in Canberra in October 2011.

The department continued to promote deeper people-to-people links between Australia and the ROK. Our embassy in Seoul led several Year-of-Friendship activities celebrating the 50th anniversary of bilateral diplomatic relations in 2011. The Australia–Korea Foundation (AKF) also supported Year-of-Friendship activities and promoted deeper engagement between Australia and Korea (also see Public information services and public diplomacy 1.1.13).

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

Mongolia

Mongolia presented new opportunities for enhanced engagement. The department supported a visit in November by Mongolian Deputy Prime Minister Enkhbold to study Australia's social welfare system. The Government opened the Austrade-managed consulate-general in Ulaanbaatar in March 2012 to service a rapidly developing trade and investment relationship. Regular high-level engagement was maintained through the Australian Embassy in Seoul, with a focus on resource development issues, the development of Mongolia's foreign investment regime and the development of Australia's aid program to Mongolia.

Democratic People's Republic of Korea

Relations remain constrained with the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) as a result of its threatening behaviour on the Korean Peninsula, and its nuclear weapons and missile programs. The department made representations directly to the DPRK, and at international meetings, such as the ASEAN Regional Forum, urging compliance with its obligations to cease nuclear, missile and proliferation activities. We also urged the DPRK to engage in constructive dialogue, particularly with the ROK and the United States. Senator Carr called for a robust response by the UN Security Council to the DPRK's launch of a long-range missile on 13 April 2012 in defiance of UN Security Council resolutions, and called for an end to further provocations, including that the DPRK not conduct a third nuclear test. Following the death of Kim Jong Il in December 2011, the department pressed the DPRK to abandon its nuclear and missile activities and address human rights abuses. We supported AusAID's humanitarian activities in the DPRK, particularly its efforts to help vulnerable mothers and children.

Outlook

The department will strengthen Australia's strategic engagement in the North Asian region by building on existing cooperative arrangements and bilateral dialogues. In particular, we will further develop strategic cooperation with Japan, including through the Australia–Japan foreign and defence ministers 2+2 mechanism and the Australia–Japan–United States Trilateral Strategic Dialogue. We will also seek to conduct an inaugural Australia–Republic of Korea 2+2 meeting of foreign and defence ministers.

The department will further promote Australia's economic interests in North Asian markets, particularly by continuing to lead FTA negotiations with the ROK, Japan and China. We will take forward Australia's trade and investment strategy with China, including in services and agriculture, and deepen our relationships with key Chinese provinces, including with Guangzhou through a new economic cooperation agreement, and with Sichuan and neighbouring provinces in western China with the opening of the new consulate-general in Chengdu. We will support development of closer economic cooperation with Japan, including on infrastructure through the Australia–Japan Infrastructure Dialogue, and the ROK. Australia's growing ties with Mongolia will be supported through our new consulate-general in Ulaanbaatar.

The department will continue to focus its advocacy efforts on key issues with the region's major global players, China, Japan and the ROK: issues such as climate change, international financial governance, and regional architecture. We will continue to co-chair with Japan the Non-Proliferation and Disarmament Initiative to advance global nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation objectives. We will work with regional partners and the United States to encourage a negotiated settlement of the DPRK nuclear issue.

Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade