The Council on Australia Latin America Relations (COALAR) was created in March 2001 by the Minister for Foreign Affairs and the Minister for Trade, for an initial period of three years. Following a review in 2004, COALAR's mandate was extended for a further three-year period to 30 June 2007. In 2007 the Minister for Foreign Affairs and the Minister for Trade decided that the Council would have on-going status with effect from 7 February 2007 with the Council no longer subject to periodic review.
COALAR is a key advisory body, and instrument, in the Government's engagement with Latin America. Under the supervision of the Minister for Foreign Affairs and the Minister for Trade and Investment – exercised on a day-to-day basis by the Executive of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade – it provides advice on a grants program and other activities related to Latin America to advance Australia's business, cultural and diplomatic objectives. COALAR's Executive Committee brings together accomplished representatives inter alia from business, government, academia and the arts to ensure that Australia’s approach to Latin America benefits from a wide variety of experiences and insights, and to enhance links among business and government.
COALAR seeks to complement other government programs and private sector initiatives, leveraging off them where appropriate, and employing its resources to enhance their strategic effectiveness. COALAR supports innovative activities that have clear outcomes, seeking to ensure the benefits of such activities are spread as widely as possible, with a special focus on assisting the initiation of activities that are likely to prove self-sustaining (for example, through 'seed-funding'). A key objective of COALAR is to identify potential for, and to build, sustainable and strategically relevant networks between Australia and Latin America in the most potentially productive areas.
COALAR expects to support industry specific events including contributing to Austrade's activities. COALAR will look to sponsor events which showcase "Australia Unlimited" by promoting Australia's branding across industries. COALAR aims to promote Australia as a centre for global investment in infrastructure, and as a regional financial centre.
As a rule, COALAR will not support activities that directly benefit the commercial interests of a single enterprise, such as market research or narrow promotional activities, or where other sources of funding (including commercial funding) would be more appropriate and readily available. All activities supported by COALAR must be clearly seen to support COALAR's objectives, and meet appropriate standards of probity, efficiency and value for money.
- To inform and influence corporate Australia, and assist in developing government policies to enhance Australia's economic, political and social relations with Latin America;
- To support Australia's broader economic and diplomatic objectives in the Latin American region; and
- To foster relationships and engagement between Australia and Latin America.
To achieve these objectives, the members of COALAR will undertake a range of outreach activities – including personal contact with key decision makers in governments and business. The Council will in particular – but not exclusively – focus on promoting activities that grow linkages and look to the potential for business opportunities in the areas of:
- Mutual economic support;
- Education and research; and
- Culture and tourism.
Goals and strategies
To strengthen links between Australia and Latin America, particularly in the areas of mutual economic support (encompassing two way trade and investment), education and research, sporting culture and tourism, aligned closely with the policy of economic diplomacy.
- noting that key new prospective areas for mutual economic support over the period of this Strategic Plan are likely to include promoting Australia’s potential to provide infrastructure solutions, and services expertise in:
- integrated and sustainable management of energy, water, agriculture and mining – beyond services and investment in each of these sectors in isolation
- areas subject to increasing demand in Latin America as it’s middle class grows and seeks higher levels of health care, quality of environment and overall quality of government service delivery systems
- noting that enhancing and strengthening links in education and research, and in culture and tourism are synergistic with each other and are also an integral part of mutual economic support and that some key areas for consideration over the period of this Strategic Plan are:
- support for research collaboration and partnerships between Australian and Latin American education and training institutions, including in areas related to energy, water, agriculture and mining, and other areas where Australia and Latin American countries face common challenges – for example operating in arid environments
- helping to identify and promote solutions to improve visa processes and air linkages between Australia and Latin America given that this would promote all other forms of linkages, as well as tourism, educational and cultural linkages and exchanges.
Engage key government, business and education decision makers to further develop relations between Australia and Latin America in priority areas.
Support two-way visits by high level parliamentarians, officials, business representatives, journalists, young professionals and academics.
Build sustainable networks between Australia and Latin America in COALAR's priority areas.
To leverage COALAR’s extensive network of business stakeholders to encourage closer engagement at a corporate level between Australia and Latin America.
Promote and support economic diplomacy – and affiliated activities – that facilitate business opportunities in Latin America.
Facilitate opportunities for Australian business and government collaboration in priority areas.
To increase engagement with and understanding of Australia in Latin America and of Latin America in Australia.
Develop, maintain and disseminate a fully contemporary narrative around how Australia and Latin American countries are evolving, how we view each other and what we have to offer each other.
Support activities to promote deeper cultural understanding in both Australia and Latin America.
Support public diplomacy and other activities in COALAR's priority areas in Latin America to showcase Australia as a diverse and dynamic society, which has social values and community approaches that can also be usefully applied in Latin American countries.
Participate in and promote public events, academic conferences and other activities which focus on strengthening links with Latin America.
To provide advice to government about opportunities that will enhance the Australia-Latin America relationship including tourism, education, visa arrangements, financial and taxation agreements and aviation policy.
The Council will develop an annual business plan of activities. Activities COALAR's Strategic Plan 2014-2017 activities will include:
- raising the profile of Australia in Latin America and of Latin America in Australia by engaging with government leaders and all levels of government and by facilitating exchanges by high level government officials, key business representatives, senior journalists, young professionals, academics and other opinion makers;
- liaison with Latin American diplomatic missions, communities and parliamentary friendship groups and the Australia-Latin America parliamentary network with a view to strengthening dialogue and co-operation on shared objectives;
- advice and support for Australian government activities in Latin America in collaboration with government departments and agencies associated or concerned with the broadening of relations between Australia and Latin America;
- in connection with all of these activities, promoting discourse to identify the opportunities Latin America countries can offer Australia and Australia can offer Latin American countries, including in the areas of investment and trade;
- continued collaboration with the Australia-Latin America Business Council and bilateral business chambers;
- supporting projects that promote to Latin America Australia’s business capabilities, including in integrated management of energy, water, agriculture and mining – and in development of infrastructure;
- building – where possible – on opportunities to extend interest and linkages between Australia and Latin America on public policy issues and administration that:
- promote Australia’s economic credentials in terms of the ways and means by which Australian governments and public sectors facilitate the sound operation and growth of the Australian economy
- give Latin American countries an opportunity to compare experiences regarding how Australia governments and businesses work to deliver the range and quality of public services increasingly expected by the growing Latin American middle class;
- conducting activities that promote Australia as a competitive, high quality tourist destination;
- supporting projects showing Australia as a competitive and high quality provider of education and that encourage linkages between Australian schools, TAFEs, colleges and universities with Latin American institution;
- supporting projects showcasing Australia's academic and science institutions as a potential source of direct or collaborative research and innovation where capabilities and strengths align with Latin American institutions;
- supporting public diplomacy and cultural activities in Latin America which showcase Australia as a diverse and dynamic society – and a willing collaborator – in performing arts, visual arts, literature, and food among others;
- supporting sports diplomacy and cooperation activities in Latin America that create or extend linkages and exchange from community to elite level;
- support for projects that strengthen relations with priority countries Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Mexico and Peru, as well as through the Pacific Alliance; and
- promote COALAR's achievements and outreach since its creation in March 2001.