Looking outward

Australia is an outward-looking country that is strongly engaged with the rest of the world. For more than two centuries, Australia has been building strong and enduring ties with many countries. These bonds have been forged through history, through common strategic interests, through trade and through people-to-people relations.

Australia is a vibrant, multicultural country. We are home to the world’s oldest continuous cultures, as well as Australians who identify with more than 270 ancestries. Since 1945, almost seven million people have migrated to Australia. Approximately one quarter of Australia's population (6.7 million people) was born overseas and approximately half have an overseas born parent. One in 10 Australians speak an Asian language at home and almost 1.3 million speak a European language other than English.

Australia is active in many global and regional institutions. It was a founding member of the United Nations and is among the leading contributors to the UN's regular and peacekeeping budgets.

In its international economic engagement, Australia aims to build greater prosperity for Australia and the world. To achieve this, Australia supports efforts to liberalise trade, boost economic growth, encourage investments and assist business through economic diplomacy.

Australia is strongly committed to building a rules-based international order which advances and protects the interests of all nations and peoples. Australia plays an active role in a wide array of global and regional groups, including the:

  • United Nations (UN)
  • Group of twenty major economies (G20)
  • World Trade Organization (WTO)
  • East Asia Summit (EAS)
  • Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN)
  • Asia–Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC)
  • Commonwealth
  • Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD)
  • Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA)
  • Pacific Islands Forum (PIF)
  • Forum for East Asia–Latin America Cooperation (FEALAC)
  • International climate change negotiations
  • Asia–Europe Meeting (ASEM).
Australian Foreign Minister, the Hon Julie Bishop MP, and UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon share an exchange during the Security Council's High-Level Meeting on Small Arms, 26 September 2013 (Trevor Collens, DFAT)

Australia's foreign and trade policy focuses on strengthening its already significant engagement with countries in the dynamic Indo-Pacific region. As a founding member of APEC and an active participant in the East Asia Summit, Australia is helping to build regional institutions that foster stability, security and prosperity across the region.

Australia has close, longstanding bilateral ties with Indonesia, as well as strong ties with the other member nations of ASEAN. Australia also has significant relations with India and with the major states of Northeast Asia—China, Japan and the Republic of Korea—which are also major markets.

Beyond its region, Australia enjoys strong economic, security, political, social and cultural ties with the United States and Canada, and continues to build on its strong and longstanding political, cultural, trade, investment, and people-to-people links with the United Kingdom and Europe. Australia is committed to a broad-based, creative partnership with the European Union, addressing the contemporary challenges of economic management and international trade, development, security, and international governance.

Australia has significant people-to-people links and growing trade and investment interests in the strategically important Middle East. In Africa, Australia has longstanding bilateral ties, especially with fellow Commonwealth nations, and growing trade and investment interests, particularly in the resources sector.

Australia's connections with Latin American countries are expanding in a range of international forums, including in the WTO. Australia also has warm relations with Caribbean countries built on strong historical and cultural foundations.

Last Updated: 22 August 2016

Did you know?

In 2014, Australia celebrated 40 years of partnership with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

Australia has a deep relationship with ASEAN in a range of areas including security, culture, education and development.


Did you know?

Australia had the world's sixth highest GDP per capita in 2015 (US$56,327).