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…

Embrace China, but for just a moment

Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop and Chinese Vice President Li Yuanchao engage in talks at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China, December 2013. Despite extremely close Sino-Australian economic relations, Bishop has argued that the US is Australia’s most important economic partner. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Derek Scissors, AEI

Shiro Armstrong recently claimed in these pages that China is Australia’s most important economic partner, indicting Australian government endorsement of the US for the position. The defence of the US offered by Australia’s foreign minister Julie Bishop and others is unsatisfying, and the case for China is reasonable. However, Australians and others should be mindful that China’s current importance is probably transient and there are subtle reasons to regard the US as Australia’s key partner. Read more…

Abbott pivots from enragement to engagement of Asia

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott speaks at an address to the Asia Society of Australia in Canberra on 25 March 2014. The prime minister said that China, Japan and South Korea have decisively shifted the world centre of economic gravity. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Peter Drysdale, Editor, East Asia Forum

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott heads off on a major expedition at the end of this week in a make-or-break effort to unlock the opportunities of the Asian century for his country in Japan, South Korea and China. The mission includes a large delegation of businesspeople and state premiers as well as many of Australia’s top officials. It embraces Australia’s top-three export markets Read more…

Embracing China as number one

The Chinese flag seen here on the Mekong River (Photo: AAP).

Author: Shiro Armstrong, ANU

China is Australia’s most important economic partner. That is true now and it is only likely to become more so in the future.

In January Australia’s foreign minister Julie Bishop unexpectedly declared that ‘the United States remains our single most important economic partner. When you combine two-way trade and investment, it stands at over $1 trillion’. Read more…

Is high handed regional diplomacy really in Australia’s interest?

Members of Pemuda Pancasila burn pictures of Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott during a protest against Australian spying outside the Australian embassy in Jakarta on 26 November 2013. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Donald K. Anton, ANU

In recent times reports in the popular press recount too often international actions taken by Australia that appear decidedly undiplomatic — at least undiplomatic in the sense that they belie an effective management of international relations. These actions have been perceived as provocative (or worse) by a number of neighbours in the region. Read more…

Australia’s die-hard diplomacy

Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop talks with her Indonesian counterpart Marty Natalegawa after their meeting in Jakarta, Indonesia, 5 December, 2013. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Susan Harris Rimmer, ANU

What an extraordinary beginning to foreign policy Australia has seen under the new Abbott government, especially in the realm of diplomacy. There has been more drama in a few months than would normally fill a book reviewing the decade.

Australia’s first female foreign minister, Julie Bishop, was sworn in and days later chaired the UN Security Council as Australian president for the first time in decades. Read more…

Australia learns how to be a good multilateralist

The G20 Australia 2014 logo is seen here at the launch of the Australia G20 presidency in Queensland (photo: Commonwealth of Australia / Australia 2014 G20 website).

Author: Jochen Prantl, ANU

On 1 December 2013, Australia took over the 2014 presidency of the G20, succeeding Russia and preceding Turkey.

Under the troika arrangement, the immediate past, present and subsequent chairs are expected to coordinate closely in providing continuity to the G20 process. Australia, Russia and Turkey are faced with a lot of unfinished business. Read more…

Time for hard economic choices in Australia

The general assembly line at the GM Holden factory in Elizabeth, South Australia. On 10 December 2013, General Motors announced that Holden will cease engine and vehicle manufacturing operations in Australia by the end of 2017. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Peter Drysdale, Editor, East Asia Forum

Australia alone among OECD economies has enjoyed strong uninterrupted growth over the past 22 years. The foundations for Australia’s more than two decades of strong growth were, as is well known, put in place through the productivity-raising reforms introduced by the Hawke-Keating governments from 1983 to 1996. Read more…

Dog days for Australia after the boom

Ross Garnaut speaks at launch of his new book - Dog Days, Australia after the Boom - with Australian Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull at the National Press Club in Canberra, 15 November, 2013. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Ross Garnaut, University of Melbourne

Australia is enjoying its 22nd year of economic growth without recession — an experience that is unprecedented in any other developed country. For the first decade of expansion, growth was based on extraordinary increases in productivity, attributable to productivity-raising reforms from 1983. In the early years of this century, reform and productivity growth slowed sharply and then stopped. Read more…

Australia’s mineral investment boom running out of luck

The Yandicoogina iron ore mine in the Pilbara region of Western Australia. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Luke Hurst, ANU

The Australian minerals boom appears to have peaked, as commodity prices eased back after 2011 and investment has begun to taper.

Currently there are 37 mineral resource projects in Australia, worth around A$33 billion in total, which have funding committed. Read more…

Arbitration rights back for the South Korea-Australia FTA

South Korean Minister for Trade, Industry and Energy, Yoon Sang-jick, at the WTO Ministerial Conference in Bali on 3 December, 2013. (Photo: World Trade Organization).

Author: Luke Nottage, University of Sydney

Australia’s Coalition government, dominated by the Liberal Party and led by Prime Minister Tony Abbott, recently completed a rocky first 100 days in power. While the government stands accused of sending ‘conflicting messages’ to the business sector — including for blocking a major foreign direct investment (FDI) proposal, the A$3.4 billion bid by US firm Archer Daniels Midland for GrainCorp — completion of the Australia-South Korea FTA may be a positive step for attracting foreign investment. Read more…

Indonesia’s choices and Australia

The back view of the medium multi-level Australian embassy building in the Indonesian capital city Jakarta is seen in the center of this photograph taken on November 21, 2013. (Photo: AAP)

Author: Peter Drysdale, Editor, East Asia Forum

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott has labelled the Indonesian relationship as Australia’s most important relationship, full stop. This isn’t all diplomatic flummery. Read more…