Australia, Japan take a ‘domino approach’ to regional integration

Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe speaks with Australian prime minister Tony Abbott ahead of a signing of a trade agreement between the two nations at Parliament House in Canberra, Australia, 8 July 2014. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Takashi Terada, Doshisha University

The recently signed Australia–Japan economic partnership agreement (EPA) is an example of the dynamic domino effect of regional trade and investment. This is where the benefits an FTA brings to one country, such as eliminating tariffs, generally disadvantages a third country not included in the agreement. This third party is thereby pressured to engage in seeking FTAs of their own. Australia’s regional integration strategy has adjusted itself well to this environment — in which big economies, each with different rules and ambitions, struggle with each other for trade advantages. Read more…

Indonesia and Australia: the great power next door

Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono with Prime Minister Julia Gillard address the media at the Northern Territory Parliament House in Darwin on 3 July 2012. (Photo: AAP)

Author: Hugh White, ANU

When a single unified state emerged as the successor to the Netherlands East Indies after 1945, Australia suddenly had a close neighbour that it would one day have to take seriously.

Indonesia’s huge population and territory gave it the potential to exercise real power in Australia’s immediate region, and hence shape Australia’s international environment profoundly, for good or ill.

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Australia, Japan make history by moving on from it

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Prime Minister Tony Abbott smile after signing the Japan-Australia Economic Partnership Agreement and Agreement on the Transfer of Defence Equipment and Technology, 8 July 2014. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Christopher Pokarier, Waseda University

For 60 years Australian governments in their dealings with Japan have chosen to make history rather than be bound by it. This was never politically easy and many Australians continue to be disappointed by reports of influential Japanese who appear to sanitise Japan’s wartime record. Australian soldiers and civilians who fell prisoner to Japanese forces suffered brutal treatment, as did other allied forces and many peoples of East Asia. Read more…

Australia’s new region: the Indo-Pacific

Prime Minister Julia Gillard (centre), Minister for Defence Stephen Smith (left) and CDF General David Hurley hold a media conference inside a Hurcules military plane after the release of the 2013 Defence white paper in Canberra, Friday, May 3, 2013. (Photo: AAP)

Authors: Melissa Conley Tyler and Samantha Shearman, AIIA

With the release of the Defence White Paper 2013 on 3 May, Australia officially has a new region, the ‘Indo-Pacific’: a strategic arc ‘connecting the Indian and Pacific Oceans through Southeast Asia’.

Given the long history of linking Australian foreign policy to the ‘Asia-Pacific’, this is a significant change in terminology. How did we get to this point and what are the implications? Read more…

Japan and Australia ‘beef up’ relations

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott shakes hands with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe during the National Security Council in Tokyo on 7 April 2014. (Photo: AAP)

Author: Aurelia George Mulgan, UNSW Canberra

The Economic Partnership Agreement that Japan recently concluded with Australia (JAEPA) has everything to do with Japanese trade strategy and little if anything to do with agricultural reform.

Some of the commentary on the agreement has argued that JAEPA was the product of Abe’s reform agenda, but it is neither part of that agenda nor will it advance it. Read more…

Why no investor–state arbitration in the Australia–Japan FTA?

Japanese Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Yoshimasa Hayashi and Australian Minister for Trade Andrew Robb lead bilateral negotiations in Tokyo on April 5, 2014. An FTA was concluded on 7 April, 2014. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Luke Nottage, University of Sydney

Australia and Japan finally concluded a bilateral free trade agreement on 7 April 2014.

Some Australian media outlets had prior inklings that negotiations had achieved significant breakthroughs, especially for agricultural market access into Japan, but a frequent assumption was that Australia must have ‘given up’ something major in return. Read more…

Australia’s dumb luck and Chinese investment

A worker looks at the trucks transporting iron ore powder imported from Australia at a port in Tianjin Municipality in north China. Australia has been a major recipient of Chinese ODI. (Photo: AAP)

Authors: Luke Hurst, ANU and Bijun Wang, Peking University

Australia has certainly lived up to its billing as ‘the lucky country’ over the last decade — the scramble to feed China’s appetite for minerals has pushed Australia’s terms of trade to historic highs.

But as Chinese investors face growing operational difficulties and new supply alternatives for their natural-resource demands, Australia must now work to make its own luck to attract Chinese money in mining and in other sectors. Read more…

Why whaling will remain a thorny issue for Australia–Japan relations

A Japanese whaling fleet leaves from Ayukawa port in Ishinomaki City, northern Japan, 26 April 2014. Japan killed 30 minke whales off its northeast coast, in its first hunt since the International Court of Justice ordered Tokyo to stop killing the whales in the Antarctic. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Donald R. Rothwell, ANU

Shinzo Abe’s July visit to Australia will be the first for a Japanese prime minister since 2007. It comes at a good time for bilateral relations following Tony Abbott’s ‘closest friend in Asia’ praise for Japan in October 2013, and the success of Abbott’s April 2014 visit to Tokyo. Yet the vexed issue of Japanese whaling in the Southern Ocean continues to dog the relationship, even after the judgment of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) on 31 March 2014. Read more…

Australia and Vietnam deepen their strategic relationship

Visiting Australian Governor General Quentin Alice Louise Bryce (R) shakes hands with Vietnamese President Nguyen Minh Triet during a welcoming ceremony at the presidential palace in Hanoi on May 9, 2011.  (Photo: AAP)

Author: Le Hong Hiep, Vietnam National University

The first Australia–Vietnam Joint Foreign Affairs Defence Strategic Dialogue was held in Canberra on 21 February 2012.

While this is evidence of the increasing importance the two countries accord each other as regional partners, the dialogue is also a useful mechanism for Australia and Vietnam to boost mutual understanding and trust, and to deepen cooperation for common strategic interests, regional peace and stability. Read more…