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Your location: Performance > Outcome 1 > Output 1.1 > 1.1.3 Americas and Europe

OUTPUT 1.1: Protection and advocacy of Australia’s international interests through the provision of policy advice to ministers and overseas diplomatic activity

1.1.3 Americas and Europe

On this page: Overview :: United States :: Europe :: Canada :: Latin America

Overview

The department strengthened bilateral relations in Europe and the Americas in a period of strategic change and security challenges, reflected by Australia's participation in a coalition with the United States, the United Kingdom and others to disarm Iraq of weapons of mass destruction (WMD). We intensified dialogue on defence and security matters with the United States and the United Kingdom in response to events in Iraq. While Australia's position on Iraq differed at times from some European countries, the sound footings of these bilateral relationships ensured we were able to continue to advance vigorously Australia's diverse range of interests with Europe.

The Australia–United States Ministerial Consultations (AUSMIN) reaffirmed the strength and breadth of Australia's ties with the United States, which were reinforced by the agreement between both countries to negotiate a free trade agreement. The highlight of a busy year of high-level dialogue with the European Union was agreement with the European Commission on a comprehensive and forward-looking agenda for cooperation.

The department continued successfully to advocate Australia's trade and investment interests with European and Latin American trading partners, helping to conclude several bilateral agreements and assisting business by working to overcome market access issues in a number of countries. The internal political dynamic in the European Union on agricultural policy reform remained both a challenge and a focus for our advocacy efforts with many EU trading partners.

We nurtured and energised a wide range of bilateral relationships. Highlights for the year included the inaugural Canada–Australia Dialogue, co-chaired by Mr Downer and his counterpart, and a comprehensive and successful program of activities with Mexico to maximise the bilateral opportunities created by high-level visits to Mexico for APEC meetings.

United States

Australia's engagement with the United States is at a historically high level. Our close cooperation with the United States in the effort to disarm Iraq of its WMD and in post-war reconstruction has been unique in the history of the relationship. The extensive advocacy and liaison work by the department contributed substantially to Australia's heightened capacity for influence with the United States on issues spanning the breadth of the security, intelligence and trade relationship. Over the year we provided organisation and policy support for three visits by Mr Downer and two visits by Mr Vaile. The Prime Minister made two visits to the United States and a total of eleven federal ministers also made at least one visit during 2002–03.

Figure 10. Australia's trade in goods and services with the United States

Figure 10. Australia's trade in goods and services with the United States

View text description of above chart

The AUSMIN 2002 consultations, held in Washington in October 2002, were the first since the terrorist attacks on the United States of 11 September 2001 and came in the immediate aftermath of the Bali bombings. The department provided organisation and policy support for participation by Mr Downer and the Minister for Defence, Senator Hill. Attendance by Secretary of State Mr Powell and Secretary of Defense Mr Rumsfeld ensured the consultations were able to advance our exchanges with the principal decision-makers in the United States on a number of fronts: the fight against terrorism, including in Australia's region; Afghanistan; the eradication of Iraq's WMD programs; and the security situation in North Asia, in particular the need for the Democratic People's Republic of Korea to abandon its nuclear weapons ambitions.

The department continued to facilitate cooperation on a range of intelligence matters central to Australia's responses to the threats of terrorism and WMD proliferation. With these efforts, intelligence ties strengthened further and provided an unparalleled level of information and assessments to Australia's defence, national security and intelligence communities.

The successful launch of negotiations on a bilateral free trade agreement in November 2002 reflected a major effort by the department, including the embassy in Washington. It is a milestone in our cooperation with the United States to increase bilateral investment and trade, and provide more jobs and better living standards in both countries. Negotiations began in March 2003 requiring our sustained support, including for two visits to Australia by Congressional staff delegations as part of broader advocacy efforts. See sub-output 1.1.5 for further information.

We worked hard to ensure that the United States continued to focus on the centrality of significant agricultural liberalisation for a successful outcome of the World Trade Organization (WTO) Doha Round. We also effectively advocated Australian positions on other WTO issues, including geographic indications and genetically modified organisms. Our efforts helped secure further exemptions for Australian steel producers from US Section 201 safeguards, rounding off a major achievement from the previous year.

Europe

European Union

Photo - See caption below for description
Director of the Victorian State Office, Annabel Anderson, fielded questions during the seminar Doing Business with Europe: Perspectives from Australia’s Ambassadors in Melbourne in October 2002.
Enlarge image :: Photo gallery

The department completed a comprehensive review of the Australia–European Union relationship. Our sustained consultations across portfolios and with the European Commission resulted in Australia and the European Union: An agenda for cooperation, an action plan adopted at the April 2003 Australia–European Commission Ministerial Consultations. The agenda has a five-year time frame and provides a practical and forward-looking framework for cooperation under seven headline areas: security and strategic issues; trade; education, science and technology; transport; environment; development cooperation; and migration and asylum. The department also worked with other agencies to enhance coordination on emerging issues requiring high-level advocacy with a rapidly evolving and expanding European Union.

The department strengthened Australia's links with the European Union at the most senior levels, with support for the Prime Minister's visit to Brussels in July 2002. We also supported a broad range of contacts between ministers, members of parliament and their EU counterparts in a dynamic program of visits to and from Australia. This included Mr Downer's consultations with the EU High Representative for Common Foreign and Security Policy, Dr Javier Solana, in July 2002 and in January 2003, and with External Relations Commissioner, Mr Chris Patten, in January 2003 and April 2003. These exchanges strengthened Australia's cooperation with the European Union in responding to global challenges and reaffirmed our shared commitment to supporting good governance and economic development in the Asia-Pacific region. Our support for visits by other ministers expanded our advocacy of Australia's interests in the growing areas of EU policy competence of importance to Australia.

We supported Mr Vaile's consultations with European Trade Commissioner, Mr Pascal Lamy, and with his French and British counterparts, among others, to advocate Australia's interests in the international trade agenda and robustly address differences on agriculture policy while underlining our common objectives on industrial products and services. Through our posts in the European Union, the department continued to press Australia's interests in agricultural reform with all EU Member States.

Figure 11. Australia's trade in goods and services with the European Union

Figure 11. Australia's trade in goods and services with the European Union

Europe—bilateral relationships

In advancing Australia's bilateral interests with European countries, the department organised and supported an intensive program of high-level visits to European countries, including by Mr Downer and Mr Vaile. We also provided extensive contributions to visits by the Prime Minister to Germany, Greece, Italy, Belgium, France and the United Kingdom over the year. We supported a wide range of visits to Australia by European ministers and dignitaries, including visits by the Polish Foreign Minister, Dr Cimoszewicz, and Crown Prince Philippe of Belgium.

Our frequent and high-level discussions with the United Kingdom included intensified exchanges on security and counter-terrorism, focused further by the Bali bombings and our participation in the coalition efforts to disarm Iraq of WMD. Other achievements across the broad range of our bilateral relationship with the United Kingdom included effective lobbying and liaison leading to the repatriation of a collection of indigenous human remains from the Royal College of Surgeons in April 2003. Our high commission, in cooperation with other Australian Government agencies, was a key contributor to the Australian War Memorial project in London, with significant progress achieved over the course of the year.

Mr Downer opened the new Australian embassy premises in Berlin, Germany, in January 2003, marking the culmination of several years of work by the department. Finalisation of the project allowed for the successful co-location of cultural, commercial and educational activities with immigration, consular and representational services, providing an identifiably Australian base for the projection of our national image. See output 4.2 for more information.

The department negotiated a bilateral maritime agreement with France to address the problem of illegal fishing in the Southern Ocean. We also advanced negotiations on a range of other agreements with France and completed an active cultural program, including mounting a major exhibition Surf Australia at the embassy in Paris in May 2003.

We worked with other agencies to finalise a working holiday-maker agreement and a social security agreement with Belgium. These agreements were signed during the visit of Crown Prince Philippe, with the department also supporting an extensive program for the 70-strong business delegation accompanying the Crown Prince.

The department devoted substantial resources to protecting and developing Australia's trade and investment interests in the Russian Federation. It supported the Department of Industry, Tourism and Resources in negotiations with Russia on international agreements that would allow a spaceport on Christmas Island to go ahead. We worked closely, and successfully, with other agencies to retain and improve access to the Russian market for Australian food products, particularly Australian meat and animal products.

Trade and investment were also the focus of the department's activities to strengthen relations with Central and Southern Europe. The preparation and launch of Doing business in Spain in three state and territory capitals represented a major effort by the department to stimulate business interest in the Spanish market.

Assisted by the visit of the Prime Minister to Greece in July 2002, the department successfully lobbied the Greek Government to ensure Australian businesses have access to Greek Government Olympic tenders. We provided substantial support to an inquiry by the Trade Sub-Committee of the Joint Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade into Australia's trade and investment relations with Central Europe. This complemented our own work in advancing Australia's interests with the ten European countries that are in the final stages of accession to the European Union. The department worked closely with the Turkish Government to ensure the successful and safe conduct of the 2003 Anzac Day commemoration services at Gallipoli.

Table 7. Australia’s trade in goods and services with Europe
  Exports Imports
  2001
$m
2002
$m
Trend growth
1997 to 2002
%
2001
$m
2002
$m
Trend growth
1997 to 2002
%
UK 8 580 9 214 11.7 9 812 9 507 2.0
Germany 2 297 2 360 4.7 7 846 8 616 8.8
Italy 2 447 2 286 5.2 2 447 2 286 5.2
France 1 540 1 766 10.6 2 970 3 701 9.0
Netherlands 1 914 1 718 17.2 1 447 1 624 3.3
Total European Union 20 685 20 948 9.0 33 496 36 805 6.0
Total East Europe 577 545 1.6 386 611 14.8
Other Europe 1 719 1 944 –0.5 3 354 3 387 6.5
Total 22 981 23 437 7.8 37 236 40 803 6.1
Source: DFAT Stars database and ABS International trade in services by partner country 2002.

Canada

The inaugural meeting of the Canada–Australia Dialogue (CAD) in October 2002 marked an important achievement in the bilateral relationship, establishing a strong institutional framework for Australia and Canada to share perspectives on public policy issues. The department was the catalyst and key coordinator for the CAD, working closely with other agencies and Canadian officials. Co-chaired by Mr Downer and his counterpart, Mr Bill Graham, and hosted by Canada, the inaugural meeting enabled a high-level exchange on assistance to countries emerging from conflict. Ministers agreed on a policy research program to advance our exchanges with Canada on this topic.

Secretary-level consultations in November 2002 reaffirmed the broad base of our shared interests with Canada on international security, humanitarian and environment issues. Consular cooperation intensified, particularly in the aftermath of the Bali bombings, including through Australian assistance to Canadian victims.

Latin America

Relations with Mexico were a particular focus for the department's efforts in Latin America in 2002–03. With our post in Mexico City, we maximised opportunities afforded by Mexico's hosting of the APEC Leaders' Summit and ministerial meetings to take forward our bilateral trade and investment agenda with Mexico. The department supported visits by the Prime Minister and four cabinet ministers. We facilitated the successful conclusion of a double taxation agreement, an investment promotion and protection agreement, and memorandums of understanding on mining and cooperation in education. As part of our assistance to Australian business, we arranged the publication of Doing Business in Mexico, funded by the Council on Australia Latin America Relations (COALAR), to increase awareness of market opportunities and business practices in Mexico. The embassy in Mexico City facilitated the launch of a new 20-peso note featuring Australian polymer technology, and helped Australian firms win major coal contracts and overcome market-access and quarantine issues.

Raising Australia's profile was a focus of the department's work in Brazil, Australia's second-largest trading partner in Latin America. The embassy in Brasilia, with Austrade and the private sector, held the second annual Australia Festival, promoting Australia as a high-quality provider of goods and services. In the past year, the department's persistent advocacy on quarantine issues has improved market access for beef serosa, used in the pharmaceutical industry, and for sheep and goat embryos.

Our embassy in Buenos Aires continued to lobby for Argentina's Congressional approval of a bilateral nuclear cooperation and safeguards agreement, in support of the Lucas Heights replacement research reactor project. At year end, the Congress had yet to vote on the agreement. The department and our post also assisted mining investors and agricultural traders to address a range of regulatory concerns. In Chile, we supported Australian companies investing in Chile, assisted Australian education providers and helped several companies with quarantine problems.

Table 8. Australia’s trade in goods and services with the Americas
  Exports Imports
  2001
$m
2002
$m
Trend growth
1997 to 2002
%
2001
$m
2002
$m
Trend growth
1997 to 2002
%
USA 16 614 16 320 10.5 27 243 29 060 3.3
Canada 2 226 2 279 9.4 2 135 2 121 6.1
Mexico 417 453 20.5 654 550 21.5
Total NAFTA 19 298 19 112 10.6 30 145 31 980 3.8
Total Caribbean 265 246 18.4 408 560 13.6
Brazil (a) 474 401 2.5 522 467 9.5
Chile 156 177 –2.5 158 166 8.5
Argentina (a) 83 64 –12.1 157 174 17.9
Total South America (a) 834 838 –0.2 858 853 11.4
Total 20 617 20 387 9.8 31 655 33 605 3.9
Source: DFAT Stars database and ABS International trade in services by partner country 2002.
(a) Data for merchandise trade only, services data is not available.

With extensive support from the department, COALAR was able to advance its priorities of enhancing Australia–Latin America education linkages, defence industry exports and general awareness of business opportunities. We facilitated a well-attended Australia–Latin America Education Linkages Symposium, which led to the creation of the COALAR Education Action Group. The collaborative effort involving federal and state government agencies, peak bodies and education providers aims significantly to increase exchanges of students, teachers and researchers and to enhance institutional linkages. The department, with Austrade and the Australia–Latin America Business Council, also undertook a successful seminar series informing companies around Australia of business opportunities in Latin America.

 

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Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade Annual Report 2002–2003
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