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France country brief - Bilateral Fact Sheet

Key engagement

Australia and France share a commitment to a dynamic bilateral relationship founded on trust, shared values and shared interests, globally and in the Indo-Pacific, in line with the priorities agreed by Australian Prime Minister, Anthony Albanese, and President of the French Republic, Emmanuel Macron, during their meeting on 1 July 2022.

Outlook

The 4 December visit by France's then Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs Catherine Colonna, at the invitation of Australia's Minister for Foreign Affairs Senator the Hon Penny Wong, and the adoption of the Australia-France Roadmap are further milestones in our renewed and ambitious France-Australia relationship.

The Roadmap is based on the three pillars of defence and security; resilience and climate action; and education and culture.

Together with the Roadmap, the Joint Statement by Prime Minister the Hon Anthony Albanese MP and French President Emmanuel Macron and Joint Statement from the Second France-Australia Foreign and Defence Ministerial Consultations outline our broad agenda for bilateral cooperation.

Bilateral relations

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.

Over 330,000 French citizens have visited Australia under the Working Holiday Maker arrangement since it commenced in 2003, contributing to cross-cultural exchange and interpersonal links between the two countries.

Foreign policy

France's foreign policy is centred on multilateralism and a strong contribution to international prosperity. It is driven by interests in disarmament, defending human rights, and action on global warming and environmental protection.

France was one of the six founding members of the European Economic Community (EEC) in 1957, which later became the European Union with the signing of the Treaty of Maastricht in 1992. It most recently held the presidency of the Council of the European Union in the first half of 2022.

France was one of the founding members of NATO in 1949 and hosted the first permanent headquarters in Paris in the 1950's and 60's. It has contributed to NATO-led missions including Afghanistan, Bosnia and Kosovo. In the first half of 2022, France held the rotating command of NATO's Very High Readiness Joint Task Force (VJTF).

France has been a member of the United Nation's (UN) since its founding in 1945. It holds a permanent seat on the Security Council, alongside the United States, the United Kingdom, Russia and China. France was re-elected to serve on the UN Human Rights Council for a three-year term beginning in 2024. France is the sixth largest contributor to the United Nations regular budget and to the peacekeeping operations budget.

France promotes use of the French language internationally and is a founding member of and largest budgetary contributor to the Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie, as well as hosting its secretariat in Paris.

France is also a member of other international organisations including the G7, G20, IORA, OECD and WTO. Its territories in the Pacific, New Caledonia and French Polynesia, are full members of the Pacific Islands Forum, while Wallis and Futuna is an associate member.

Fast facts

French visitors to Australia (2022)
60,510
Australian resident returns from France (2022)
81,9210
Resident Australian population born in France (2021 census)
36,019
Australian residents of French descent (2021 census)
148,927
French working holidaymakers (2022)
14,344
French students in Australia (2022)
2,988

High level engagement

  • December 2023 – France's then Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs Catherine Colonna visited Australia and launched the Australia-France Roadmap with Foreign Minister Wong in Canberra
  • December 2023 – Defence Minister Marles visited New Caledonia to attend the South Pacific Defence Minister's Meeting (SPDMM), including meeting with French Defence Minister Lecornu
  • November 2023 – Assistant Foreign Minister Watts visited Paris to attend the Paris Peace Forum, One Planet Polar Summit, UNESCO General Conference and the International Humanitarian Conference for the Civilian Population of Gaza
  • September 2023 – Minister for Aged Care and Minister for Sport Wells visited Paris and signed a Declaration of Intent on Sports Cooperation with Minister for Sports and the Olympic and Paralympic Games Amélie Oudéa-Castéra
  • September 2023 – Minister for Resources and Northern Australia King visited Paris and signed the Bilateral Dialogue on Critical Minerals Agreement with then France's Minister for the Energy Transition Agnés Pannier-Runacher
  • April 2023 – Visit by Foreign Minister Wong to New Caledonia
  • April 2023 – Assistant Minister for Veterans' Affairs Thistlewaite attended the ANZAC Day Dawn Service in Villiers-Bretonneux
  • February 2023 – Minister for Climate Change and Energy Bowen met with France's then Minister for Energy Transition, Agnès Pannier-Runacher, in Paris
  • January 2023 – Foreign Minister Wong and Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister Marles attended the Second France-Australia Foreign and Defence Ministerial Consultations in France
  • December 2022 – Trade and Tourism Minister Farrell met with France's Minister-Delegate for Foreign Trade, Economic Attractiveness and French Nationals Abroad, Olivier Becht, in Paris
  • October 2022 – Visit by Foreign Minister Wong to 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, Sébastien Lecornu, in Paris
  • July 2022 – Prime Minister Albanese met with France's President Emmanuel Macron in Paris

Agreements with France

Australia has numerous bilateral agreements with France, including on education, double taxation, defence and cultural cooperation.
Texts of bilateral agreements are available at the Australian Treaties Database.

Indo-Pacific engagement

Australia and France recognise the strategic challenges that the Indo-Pacific is facing, and we are using our partnership to advance regional peace, stability, and prosperity. We promote an international order based on the rule of law and agreed norms.

We 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.

Establishment of the Australia-France Centre of Excellence for the Indo-Pacific recognises the growing global importance of this region and Australia and France's mutual interest in addressing some of the challenges it faces. It will encompass three distinct programs with potential for future expansion:

  • The Australia-France Indo-Pacific Studies Program
  • The Australia-France Energy Transition Program
  • The Australia-France Pacific Shared Knowledge Initiative

Defence and security

France and Australia are advancing defence cooperation by enhancing reciprocal access to military facilities leveraging existing legal frameworks. We are increasing mutually beneficial defence industry cooperation through a program of dialogues, exchanges, and joint initiatives to foster increased collaboration between our respective defence industries.

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.

Climate and resilience

Climate action, domestically and internationally, is a priority. Australia and France are working more closely together to support a just and clean energy transition and adaptation in both countries and with our partners in the Indo-Pacific.

Australia and France are engaged in a Critical Minerals Strategic Dialogue that will contribute to mutual economic security and prosperity for Australia and France through stable, secure, transparent, and resilient critical minerals supply chains.

Establishment of the Australia-France Energy Transition Program will strengthen cooperation between Australian and French stakeholders on energy transition. This program will bring together leading Australian and French institutions, researchers, companies, and other industry experts to pool knowledge and share it throughout the Indo-Pacific.

Australia and France are engaging at Ministerial level to enhance our cooperation in the Pacific on climate and environment, including through our work with other Pacific nations. This engagement is looking at ways to address climate change and support sustainable use, management, and conservation of land, forest and ocean resources in alignment with Pacific priorities, including:

  • Deeper engagement with Papua New Guinea's forests sector and relevant climate and environment agencies
  • Expanded operational collaboration and coordination on issues of climate, resilience, disaster risk reduction, and disaster risk management in the Pacific region between the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and the Agence Française de Développement (AFD)
  • Close and effective coordination in the field of humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, including through the France, Australia, and New Zealand (FRANZ) arrangement.

Culture and education

Culture and people are central to our identities. Australia and France are boosting opportunities for educational and research collaboration, and cultural understanding, to strengthen our people-to-people links.

We 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.

Australia and France will strengthen two-way people-to-people links through a French Australian Cultural Exchange Foundation in Australia and an Australian Cultural Initiative in France.

France and Australia will also work to enhance knowledge exchange on cultural diversity in the Indo-Pacific region, including Australian First Nations peoples and culture. We are fostering bilateral cooperation between sporting institutions in Australia and France.

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 French Embassy in Canberra administers the Australian-French Association for Research and Innovation (AFRAN), which aims to promote the development of cooperation between France and Australia in the areas of research and innovation. 

Trade and investment

France is a member of the European Union (EU) and is subject to EU trade and regulatory requirements.

France is Australia's 16th largest two-way trading partner ($12.6 billion in 2022-23), with the balance of trade strongly in France's favour. Australia's top exports to France were coal, oil seeds and oleaginous fruits, professional, technical and other business services, and recreational travel. Australia's largest imports from France were transport services, perfume and cosmetic products, alcoholic beverages, and recreational travel.

France is Australia's 13th largest source of foreign investment stocks ($54 billion in 2022; Australian investment in France was $82 billion).

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

Australia and France are engaged in a Critical Minerals Strategic Dialogue that will contribute to mutual economic security and prosperity for Australia and France through stable, secure, transparent, and resilient critical minerals supply chains.

Wartime commemorations

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.

Australian Embassy in Paris

Address:

4 rue Jean Rey, 75724 Paris, France
Ph: +33 1 40 59 33 00
Email: consular.paris@dfat.gov.au

Related links

See Smartraveller for information on travelling to France.

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