United Kingdom country brief

The United Kingdom is one of our most like-minded partners in the world.

Key engagement

Our countries enjoy a high level of cooperation across a wide range of foreign policy, defence, security, intelligence, trade and economic issues.

Outlook

Brexit can be an opportunity for strengthened cooperation including through negotiating an Australia-UK Free Trade Agreement. The UK and European Commission have agreed the terms of the UK’s exit and the framework for negotiations on the future EU-UK relationship. Approval of this deal by the UK Parliament hinges on the outcome of the 12 December 2019 general election.

Bilateral relations

Australia and the UK have a significant and comprehensive relationship underpinned by our shared heritage, common values, strong people-to-people links, closely aligned strategic outlook and interests and substantial trade and investment links. We are frequent dialogue partners at the highest levels across government and are like‑minded on global issues such as international security, multilateral cooperation and economic issues on the G20 agenda.

Foreign policy

Australia-UK Ministerial Consultations (AUKMIN) is the premier bilateral forum on foreign policy, defence and security issues.

At AUKMIN, ministers look for ways in which Australia and the UK can work together more effectively to deal with contemporary global challenges.

The UK hosted the tenth AUKMIN in Edinburgh in July 2018. Ministers reaffirmed their mutual commitment to uphold the international rules-based order.

Australia’s foreign policy is guided by the Foreign Policy White Paper.

Fast facts

  • UK visitors to Australia (June 2019) — 718,600
  • Australian visitors to UK (June 2019.) — 667 800
  • Resident Australian population born in UK (2016 census) — 907,570
  • Australian residents of UK ancestry (2016 census) — 7.85 million
  • UK working holidaymakers (2017/18) — 37 752
  • UK students in Australia (2018) — 6,869

High level visits in 2018

To UK

Prime Minister Morrison (June); Foreign Minister Payne (February and July); Trade Minister Birmingham (January); and Defence Minister Reynolds (July)

From UK

Trade Secretary Truss (September 2019)

Agreements with UK

  • Defence and Security Cooperation Treaty
  • International Tax Agreement
  • Reciprocal Health Care Agreement
  • Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters
  • UK-Australia FinTech Bridge
  • Australia-UK Nuclear Cooperation
  • Wine
  • Mutual Recognition Agreements

Public diplomacy

The Australian High Commission in London manages a public diplomacy program focused on raising awareness in the UK of contemporary Australia, including through promotion of our shared heritage, strong people-to-people links, music, film and literature, our premium produce, and through Australian alumni in the UK.

The High Commission collaborates with private and public sector partners to deliver events that promote Australia as a successful multicultural nation, and dynamic Indo-Pacific economy.

Australian High Commission in the UK
Australia House
The Strand
London WC 2B 4LA
United Kingdom
Tel:  (+44) 20 7379 4334
Website: https://uk.embassy.gov.au/

British High Commission in Australia
Commonwealth Avenue, Yarralumla, ACT 2600
Tel: (+612) 6270 6666
Website: www.gov.uk/world/australia

Economic diplomacy

Brexit has presented Australia with a unique opportunity to strengthen its relationship with the UK. An Australia-UK Trade Working Group has been working since 2016 to scope out the parameters of a Free Trade Agreement for negotiation post-Brexit.

The UK is now looking to its future outside of the EU. The UK Government’s vision of a “Global Britain” campaign includes looking to old friends and working to increase trade and investment.

Australia is seen by the UK as a key trading partner post-Brexit and the High Commission is capitalising on this.

Business

The UK is the second largest source of foreign investment in Australia, with the stock of investment valued at $574.8 billion in 2018 (FDI of $98.7 billion).

Australian investment in the UK was $408 billion in 2018 (FDI of $118.7 billion).

The UK is our 8th largest two-way trading partner, worth $26.9 billion in 2018, and our third largest services trading partner, with Australian services exports to the UK of $5.5 billion and imports of $9.2 billion in 2018.

Australia’s principal merchandise exports to the UK are gold, alcoholic beverages (mainly wine), lead, and pearls and gems. The main merchandise imports from the UK are passenger motor vehicles, medicaments and alcoholic beverages.

Austrade’s UK Office aims to attract foreign direct investment into Australia, and promotes the Australian education sector. Austrade can provide access to a range of specialists to assist with market entry and expansion.

Austrade in the UK

Last Updated: 11 November 2019