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

The UK’s Withdrawal Agreement to exit the European Union has been agreed by EU leaders but still has to be voted upon by the UK and European Parliaments. Brexit will be an opportunity for strengthened cooperation including through negotiating an Australia-UK Free Trade Agreement.

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.

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.

AUKMIN is held annually and rotates between the UK and Australia. The UK hosted the tenth AUKMIN in Edinburgh in July 2018. Ministers reaffirmed their mutual commitment to uphold the international rules-based order.

Australia will host the eleventh AUKMIN in 2019.

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

Fast facts

  • UK visitors to Australia (2017) — 732,000
  • Australian visitors to UK (year to Mar 2018, approx.) — 630,700
  • 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) — 30,036
  • UK students in Australia (Jan-May 2018) — 6,704

High level visits in 2018

To UK

Defence Industry Minister Ciobo; former Foreign Minister Bishop; then Defence Minister Payne; Attorney General Porter; then Citizenship and Multicultural Affairs Minister Tudge; former International Development Minister Fierravanti-Wells; then Trade Minister Ciobo; and former PM Turnbull.

From UK

Home Secretary Javid; Defence Secretary Williamson; and UK Asia-Pacific Minister Field.

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

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 promotional events that promote Australia as a successful multicultural nation, and dynamic Indo-Pacific economy. The High Commission continues to build on the public diplomacy momentum of the 100th anniversary of Australia House in London: the oldest Australian diplomatic mission and the longest continuously occupied foreign mission in London.

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. A bilateral 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 global trade.

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

A recent edition of the Economist, ‘Aussie rules — what Australia can teach the world’ (27 Oct 2018), highlighted that Australia has the world’s most successful economy: a message that was noted by key UK influencers and interlocutors.

Business

The UK is the second largest source of foreign investment in Australia, with the stock of investment valued at $481.3 billion in 2017 (FDI of $83.2 billion).

Australian investment in the UK was $333.1 billion in 2017 (FDI of $83.9 billion).

The UK is our equal 7th largest two-way trading partner, worth $27.8 billion in 2017-18, and our third largest services trading partner.

Australia’s principal merchandise exports are gold, lead, and alcoholic beverages (mainly wine).

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: 8 February 2019