The Abe and Abbott show: a meeting of minds and interests

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe speaks at a joint press conference with his Australian counterpart Tony Abbott at Parliament House in Canberra, 8 July 2014. (Photo: AAP)

Author: Jim Rolfe, Victoria University of Wellington

The ANZUS Treaty was signed 63 years ago by Australia, New Zealand and the United States, in part as a counter to the US security treaty with Japan and the final peace agreement following the end of World War II. ANZUS then was intended to stand against any possible resurgence of Japanese military power in the Asia Pacific region. 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…

Smoke and mirrors in trade disputes will harm public health

Some worry that the Trans-Pacific Partnership will make public health measures, like the plain packaging of cigarettes, liable to be challenged by foreign companies. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Matthew Rimmer, ANU

The 2014 World Cancer Report, issued by the World Health Organisation (WHO), indicates that the number of new cancer cases has reached an all-time high. On the 19 May 2014, Dr Margaret Chan, the Director-General of the WHO, gave a stirring speech to the 67th Health Assembly on the heavy health burden associated with cancer. Chan was particularly interested in public health measures designed to combat the global tobacco epidemic. Read more…

Broadcasting soft power: Australian telly inks new deal in China

The set from the Australian Broadcasting Corporation's (ABC) ‘At The Movies’ show. The ABC runs the Australia Network which recently announced they had secured an agreement with the Shanghai Media Group. (Photo: Jason IIagan/Flikr).

Authors: Benjamin Day and Susan Harris Rimmer, ANU

Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s recent trip to East Asia was all about drumming up business for ‘Team Australia’. An unprecedented 630-strong trade mission, including three ministers and five premiers, fanned out through China to show Australia was ‘open for business’. Given this focus on dealmaking, it’s surprising how little fanfare greeted the Australia Network’s announcement that they had secured an agreement with the Shanghai Media Group 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…

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…