Media Release

6 July 2007

Celebrating 50 years of trade with Japan - Australia's best customer

Mr Peter Corish, Chair of the Australia-Japan Foundation (AJF) said the 50th anniversary of the Australia-Japan Agreement on Commerce was time to celebrate Australia’s single most important trading relationship.

“Few people are aware that Japan has been Australia’s best customer for the past 40 years.  Australia sells more goods to Japan than it does to China and the United States combined.  One in every five of our exports dollars is generated by our merchandise trade with Japan.”

“As the Prime Minister recently said publicly, the Commerce Agreement set in motion the most successful bilateral trade relationship in Australian history, and has made an enormous contribution to the prosperity of both our nations”, Mr Corish said.

“I am very pleased that the Minister for Trade, Mr Truss, has been able to join with Japanese Trade Minister, Mr Akira Amari, during the APEC Trade Ministers’ Meeting in Cairns to celebrate the anniversary officially on 6 July 2007.” 

“The trade relationship has provided the foundation for a much broader partnership between the two countries.  Today we enjoy strong social, cultural and educational ties with Japan.  The people-to-people links have infused bilateral relations with considerable warmth and friendship”, Mr Corish said. 

To recognise the importance of our economic partnership with Japan, the AJF in association with the Australia-Japan Research Centre, will establish an Australian Network of Economists with research interests in Japan.  The network will create links between economic scholars and provide a forum for discussion on the Japanese economy.  Professor Jenny Corbett, Executive Director of the Australia-Japan Research Centre, will launch the network in Canberra as part of the commemorations on 6 July.

The Australia-Japan Foundation was established by the Australian Government in 1976 to encourage a closer relationship between the peoples of Australia and Japan.  In December 2006 it was reformed as a non-statutory bilateral foundation with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.  Over the past thirty years, the Foundation has played an important role promoting community, professional and institutional links between the two countries through its cultural, educational and exchange programs.

Further information about the AJF is available at www.ajf.australia.or.jp/english/

Media Inquiries:  DFAT Media Liaison on 02 6261 1555