France country brief - Bilateral Fact Sheet
Download print version
Australia and France work closely bilaterally and through regional and multilateral fora. On 1 July 2022, Prime Minister the Hon Anthony Albanese MP and French President Emmanuel Macron met in Paris to reaffirm their commitment to building a closer and stronger bilateral relationship based on mutual trust and respect. The Second France-Australia Foreign and Defence Ministerial Consultations, held in Paris on 30 January 2023 reaffirmed our shared commitment to restoring a dynamic and enduring bilateral relationship. Regular contact between Australian and French ministers and senior officials continues to advance the bilateral partnership.
The Joint Statement by Prime Minister the Hon Anthony Albanese MP and French President Emmanuel Macron on 1 July 2022 and Joint Statement from the Second France-Australia Foreign and Defence Ministerial Consultations, outline our broad agenda for bilateral cooperation. The leaders agreed to establish a roadmap for cooperation based on three pillars: defence and security; resilience and climate action; and education and culture.
Australia's relationship with France is underpinned by enduring historical links. Our consular and diplomatic engagement dates back to 1842, and cooperation in both the First and Second World Wars, when thousands of Australian and French soldiers fought side by side to defend shared values of liberty, democracy, rule of law and protection of human rights. These values are still at the core of our societies and underpin our bilateral and international engagement.
Australia and France work together in many fields, such as defence and international security, climate change mitigation and energy transition, supply chain resilience, and in Antarctica. We cooperate in pursuit of our shared interests in the Indo-Pacific region. We both support a rules-based international order. Dialogue and practical cooperation on key global issues has strengthened in recent years, including through our common membership of major fora such as the G20 and the Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM).
The bilateral trade and investment relationship between Australia and France is robust and opportunities exist in many areas.
- French visitors to Australia (year ending December 2022)
- Resident Australian population born in France (2021 census)
- Australian residents of French descent (2021 census)
- French working holiday maker arrivals (year ending 30 June 2022)
- French students in Australia (January to December 2022)
High level engagement
- April 2023 – Foreign Minister Wong visited New Caledonia
- February 2023 - Climate Change and Energy Minister Bowen visited France
- January 2023 – Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister Marles and Foreign Minister Wong visited France on 30 January 2023 for the Second France-Australia Foreign and Defence Ministerial Consultations
- December 2022 – Trade and Tourism Minister Farrell visited France
- October 2022 – Foreign Minister Wong visited French Polynesia
- September 2022 – Trade and Tourism Minister Farrell met with France’s Minister-Delegate for Foreign Trade, Economic Attractiveness and French Nationals Abroad, Olivier Becht, in Canberra
- September 2022 – Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister Marles met with France’s Minister of Defence Lecornu
Agreements with France
Australia has numerous bilateral agreements with France, including on education, double taxation, defence and cultural cooperation. The bilateral agreements are available from the Australian Treaties Database.
Australia and France are nations of both the Pacific and the Indian Oceans. We share a long history of cooperation in the region, including with French territories such as New Caledonia, French Polynesia, Wallis and Futuna and Réunion Island. We share a vision for a stable, peaceful, and prosperous Indo-Pacific, enabled through dialogue and joint initiatives with regional partners. Australia warmly welcomes France’s cooperation in the Indo-Pacific and its strategy for further engaging the region, as well as the European Union’s commitment to long-term investment in the region.
Defence and security cooperation
Australia and France participate in various bilateral and multilateral training exercises to deepen our ability to operate together, especially in our region. Our security partnership focuses on the Pacific, Indian and Southern Oceans, including for emergency and disaster relief and countering illegal fishing. Our militaries work closely together under the France-Australia-New Zealand Arrangement (FRANZ), to provide humanitarian assistance and disaster relief in the South Pacific.
Australia and France have a good working relationship in the counter-terrorism and countering violent extremism fields. France has significant expertise and experience in combating terrorism, prosecuting terrorists and dealing with returning foreign fighters and radicalised lone actors. Australia co-funds the Franco-Ivorian International Counter-Terrorism Academy, which France and Côte d'Ivoire deliver in partnership.
Australia and France have a dynamic relationship in all fields of the arts, with Australian artists enthusiastic to work in France, and many French counterparts keen to explore Australia's vibrant culture. Australia has made a significant contribution to the Musée du Quai Branly, a museum dedicated to the world's indigenous arts and cultures. The Australian Government’s Australia now program in France in 2021-22 successfully showcased the diversity, vibrancy and innovation of Australian culture to audiences in France.
Education, tourism and other people-to-people links
Australian and French people-to-people links continue to grow. France is an important academic, research and exchange partner, and there are many agreements and memoranda of understanding between Australian and French universities. The Australia-France Alumni Network (AFAN) facilitates links between French graduates of Australian institutions. The network is administered by the Australian Embassy in Paris.
The Working Holiday Maker arrangement, signed between France and Australia in 2003, has contributed to advancing the bilateral relationship between the two countries. Over 330,000 French citizens have visited Australia under the Working Holiday Maker arrangement since it commenced, contributing to cross-cultural exchange and interpersonal links between the two countries.
There are over 600 French companies employing more than 60,000 people in Australia. French companies are active in the infrastructure, defence, banking and renewable energy sectors. Increasingly, Australian companies are establishing themselves in France to unlock opportunities in the French and broader European markets.
More information on Austrade and doing business in France.
The legacy of Australian involvement on French soil in the First and Second World Wars plays an important role in the bilateral relationship. 295,000 Australians fought on the Western Front during the First World War. Each year many Australians travel to the Western Front to participate in commemorative activities and visit key battle and memorial locations, and military cemeteries.
Joint commemorative activities, such as the annual ANZAC Day ceremonies at Villers-Bretonneux and Bullecourt, continue to be important elements of our bilateral engagement. The Australian Remembrance Trail along the Western Front includes key sites developed in France and Belgium, in partnership with local authorities as an enduring legacy of Australia’s contribution. The trail honours the courage and sacrifice of Australians who served on the Western Front including the 46,000 Australians who lost their lives.
The Australian Government’s Sir John Monash Centre at the Australian National Memorial in Villers-Bretonneux is a world-class interpretive centre using cutting edge technology to share the stories of Australian soldiers from the First World War. It provides a central point to the Australian Remembrance Trail, welcoming visitors all year round.