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At the end of XX – the beginning of the XXI century, a period of fundamental transformation of international relations, as a system of economic, political, diplomatic, military, cultural and other ties between the subjects of these relations has come. The main international actors, subjects of international law are states, and forms of their international activities, their strategy and diplomacy.
The relationship between the states in the international arena are regulated by foreign policy in accordance with the principles and objectives defined directions and methods of governmental activity of one country in its relations with other countries. Intergovernmental cooperation is a crucial, decisive part of all kinds of international relations: political-diplomatic, which are carried out mainly in the formal government structures; economic, the material basis of the entire system of international relations; cultural, and others. It determines the importance of diplomacy – the peaceful activities of government bodies and their missions abroad to implement the tasks of foreign policy. Good international citizenship is one of the primary tasks for every developed country (Dunne & Langlois 2014)
Australia’s Position in the International Arena
Australia is a country with sustainable, competitive economy. It has a skilled labor force. Many managers and technical staff have acquired scientific and managerial experience in the West. Almost half of the labor staff has diplomas of various educational institutes and university; a large number of scientists and technicians have received international recognition. Australia has the prerequisites for stable economic, political and social growth.
In recent years, this led to a substantial increase in foreign investment in its economy. In a relatively short period, there was diversification of the export base of the country. Although, it is mostly raw materials exporter (minerals and agricultural products), gradually a variety of services and supply of various complex industrial products provided by Australia are expanding all over the world.
The Australian government continues to adhere to the policy of “open doors” for innovation. Rapid economic growth in the 90-ies of XX – beginning of XXI century was accompanied by a small inflation, low interest rates, and continuous increase in productivity. Australia demonstrates the combination of Western business culture and skilled workforce able to operate a wide range of Asian languages in the region.
Using this advantage, as well as advanced information infrastructure more than 840 major representative offices of foreign companies operating in the Asia-Pacific region are located in Australia, many other foreign companies have opened branches to serve its clients in Asia. Australia is the only country in the world occupying an entire continent. Australia’s multicultural society consists of a relatively small indigenous people (aborigines) and immigrants from nearly 200 countries (McAdam 2013).
The migrants of different nationalities have had a significant impact on all aspects of the development of the country. For more than 50 years of planned post-war migration, Australia has attracted more than 6 million people including 600 thousand refugees (McAdam 2013). The country is the world’s largest exporter of coal, and a very important supplier of uranium. A significant amount of light oil is exported abroad (although, its heavy components that are used for the production of diesel fuel are imported to the country). Australia is one of the major suppliers of natural gas.
Close economic ties of Australia with the outside world, with numerous foreign countries, play extremely crucial, perhaps decisive role in raising living standards of the country. These relations include trade and investment, technical assistance, a variety of services, including tourism and other forms of cooperation.
Foreign economic relations of the country are very specific. As has been noted, being a highly developed capitalist country in the world markets, Australia acts as a supplier of mineral and agricultural raw materials, which, in general, is typical of developing countries. As a state of monopoly capitalism, it is at the same time serves as an object of exploitation by foreign multinational corporations.
Australian Foreign Policy
Playing a more active role in international relations, Australia obtained a status of the middle state, with the authoritative position in many regions of the world. Abundant resources, dynamic economy, unique geographical location – all these objectively makes Australia a very attractive partner for many countries. Therefore, Australia is increasingly developing many forms and methods of its foreign policy.
In the 90-ies years of XX century it took a firm place in the ” support echelon ” of the Asia-Pacific Region (APR), without whose partnership none of even the most powerful world states today can successfully develop its foreign policy in accordance with modern conditions and needs. In international operations and foreign policy, Australia in recent years, used such means and methods as high professionalism of the diplomatic service, the achievements of modern information technology, paid special attention to design and implementation of sound and prudent strategy and tactics. All this has allowed Australia to strengthen its position in the international arena with a minimum of financial and material costs.
The declaration by Australia of its new role in the Asia-Pacific Region (APR) has strengthened its traditional interest in foreign economic relations, thus by 2013, a quarter of the country’s GDP brought the sectors contacting with Asian countries. Good relationships with these countries were important for maintaining stability and security in the region (Burke 2012). Therefore, the steps to expand ties with them while strengthening them with the same partners were taken. So, in March 2013, the Second Indonesian-Australian dialog on deepening and strengthening of the public, media, and business contacts with Indonesia was held in Australia (Taylor & Rafferty-Brown 2010).
Also, the cooperation of relevant agencies was organized on a wide range of issues related to security, the fight against terrorism, human trafficking, and assistance to the population during natural disasters and human rights (Human Rights and Australian Foreign Policy 2011). In relations with Thailand, an important place was occupied by issues of economic cooperation; particularly the implementation of the conditions of previously concluded a trade agreement. In relations with Malaysia, the priority was given to economic relations, which were maintained by the formation of the bilateral free trade agreement.
In relations with Cambodia, the determining factor was in the complex process of democratization of the country, conducted in the conditions of social and political instability inherent to Cambodia. Australia renders financial assistance to this country. The interaction of Australia with Brunei has increased, also due to the activities of ASEAN and East Asia summit. But along with the strengthening of relations with these countries, the fence-mending with China remained an urgent task.
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Relationships with this country are important because of economic and political interests of Australia. This issue is reflected in the new White Paper of Australia, which stated that the primary objective of its foreign policy is a peaceful and conflict-free rise of China. It was noted that Australia’s military expenditure will be minimal. This underlines the significance of Australia’s participation in the strategic changes in the Indo-Pacific region in order to minimize competition and maximize cooperation in relations between the US and China; urging the latter to be more transparent in its military plans. The relations with the countries of Oceania were also developed within Australian foreign policy.
First of all, with New Zealand, significant progress has been achieved in the implementation of plans for economic integration of the parties. As was also indicated in the aforementioned parliamentary document, Australia, tried to provide efficient assistance to the region to strengthen its capacity and ability to respond to the major challenges of our time. Australia is interested in a stable and multi-polar order, which makes the dominance of one country impossible.
Australia is the supporter of democratic values and respect for international human rights (Lynch 2010). It takes part in numerous international programs devoted to the key human rights issues (Human Rights Law Resource Center 2011). Australia strongly supported the Papua New Guinea’s efforts to hold the general election after a period of political instability. As a result of bilateral visits at the highest level, the cooperation of Australia with Solomon Islands has strengthened. It took place in different areas, especially in the area of security and stability (Camilleri 2012). Australia contributed to a return to the democratization of Fiji, which is formed of more than 300 islands in the South part of Pacific Ocean.
All these measures have also contributed to the establishment of a strong relationship with Australia Pacific microstates. With all of these countries were discussed problems of development of fishery resources in the region for the benefit local population. However, the Southeast Asia (SEA) remained the basis of economic cooperation with developing countries of Pacific Basin.
Australia, like New Zealand, tried to resolve an acute problem of migrants, the major transit of which remained from Indonesia (Taylor & Rafferty-Brown 2010). In the current tense situation in the region, Australia has paid great attention to this problem. However, she showed extreme flexibility in relation to China-US confrontation. The White Paper said that the development of relations between the US and China were the main factor that will determine the strategic situation in Southeast Asia and the Pacific Ocean in the foreseeable future.
It was noted that the geopolitical role of the entire region will grow, and China and the US are major powers in it. But Australia does not believe that the choice is between historic allies of the United States and developing relations with China, as well as Beijing and Washington also did not believe that they need to make such a choice. And Australia does not regard China as their enemy. An important task of the country is the use of its position to reap the benefits associated with the movement of the epicenter of world economic development to Asia.
And among the top priorities of the government is accelerating the process of concluding free trade agreements with South Korea, Japan, and China. The well-being of the country, more than ever, depends on the external environment and the ability to promote abroad its national interests. But if Australia wants to use the integration capabilities of the Asian century, it is necessary to work hard on a profound understanding of the problems of the region and meet the obligations to them (McDonald 2013).
Its key partners are the United States, Australia, China, Japan, Indonesia, India and the Republic of Korea. However, Southeast Asia is viewed by Australia as the sub-region, which is of fundamental strategic, political and economic interests (Carr 2015).
Economic Partnership Agreement was concluded with the USA’s Asian ally, Japan, which provided a significant reduction in Japanese tariffs on Australian trade of agricultural products and a complete abandonment of duties for energy, raw materials and products. Also, Australia abolished duties on Japanese cars, electronics and other goods that had to reduce their market value. They have also signed an agreement on the exchange of scientific and military technologies.
In the conditions of rising significance of the East for the national interests of Australia, the main focus of foreign policy is to strengthen its cooperation with the countries of the Asia-Pacific Region (APR), which may contribute to the further integration of the region (Carr 2015).
In the field of bilateral relations with the Union of Australia, the interaction with the United States is still of vital significance, despite the fact that after the end of the “Cold War” ANZUS defense alliance lost its former importance. Relations with the UK were replenished as receding from the past experience refocusing on the activity of the European Union for future cooperation and efficient interaction. Since the foundation of the United Nations, Australia saw itself as its active member.
Australian communications with the European Union and individual European countries are built in one of the fundamental paradigms of the foreign policy of Australia, the policy of multilateralism (the principle of multilateralism in international relations, and openness to equal cooperation of partners around the world in the framework of international organizations and bilaterally). However, perhaps the main manifestation of the mutual interest of Australia and European countries is the establishment and maintenance of bilateral relations both at the governmental and at informal levels.
Australia demonstrates the skills of the diplomacy at the highest level of international dialog and interaction. It is one of the countries, which preserve the policy of parity towards other countries. The most significant issue of Australian external affairs is the establishment of peaceful and friendly relations with its strategic partners (Camilleri 2012). Being a good international citizen, Australia maintained good-neighbor relations with its allies (Dunne & Langlois 2014).
Today, the position of Australia in the world political arena is rather stable and authoritative. Australian international relations are built on democratic principles and mutual respect. It is an active supporter of the responsibility to protect principle (RtoP), highly appreciating the sovereignty of other countries (Bellamy 2010). One of the primary directions of Australian international relations is the popularization and protection of international human rights all over the world (Bellamy 2010).
There are a number of measures taken by the Australian government to provide the human rights safeguards (Human Rights Law Resource Center 2011). Australia as the international citizen shows a high level of its moral and ethical responsibility to other participants of international dialog (Dunne & Langlois 2014).
Bellamy, A 2010, The Responsibility to Protect and Australian Foreign Policy. Australian Journal of International Affairs, vol. 64, no. 4, pp. 432-448.
Burke, A 2012, ‘Australia’s Global Security: a Model National Security Strategy for a More Secure World’, in Altman, D & Camillerie, J et al. (eds), Why Human Security Matters: Rethinking Australian Foreign Policy, Allen & Unwin, Sydney. pp. 88-106.
Camilleri, J 2012, ‘Human Security and National Security: the Australian Context’, in Altman, D & Camillerie, J et al. (eds), Why Human Security Matters: Rethinking Australian Foreign Policy, Allen & Unwin, Sydney. pp. 57-87.
Carr, A 2015, “Australia Can Change Asia for the Better“, Blog: ANU College of Asia & the Pacific. Web.
Dunne, T & Langlois, A 2014, ‘Good International Citizenship’, in D. Baldino, A. Carr and A. Langlois, (eds), Australian Foreign Policy. Controversies and Debates, Oxford University Press, Oxford, pp. 211-227.
Human Rights and Australian Foreign Policy. Australia’s Role as a Principled Advocate of Human Rights for All 2011. Web.
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McDonald, M 2013, ‘This is How We Rise to the Asian century?‘, The Drum Opinion. Web.
Taylor, S & Rafferty-Brown, B 2010, Waiting for Life to Begin: the Plight of Asylum Seekers Caught by Australia’s Indonesian Solution. International Journal of Refugee Law, vol. 22, no. 4, pp. 558-592.