Foreign relations of Australia are influenced by its position as a leading trading nation and as a significant donor of humanitarian aid. Australia's foreign policy is guided by a commitment to multilateralism and regionalism, as well as to strong bilateral relations with its allies. Key concerns include free trade, terrorism, refugees, economic co-operation with Asia and stability in the Asia-Pacific. Australia is active in the United Nations and the Commonwealth of Nations. Given its history of starting and supporting important regional and global initiatives, it has been described as a regional middle power par excellence.[1]

Australia's imports of major weapons increased 60 per cent between 2005–2009 and 2010–14, making it the sixth largest importer in the world according to SIPRI.[2]

It has become steadfastly allied with New Zealand, through long-standing ties dating back to the 1800s, as well as the United States, throughout the Cold War and since. Over recent decades Australia has sought to strengthen its relationship with Asian countries, with this becoming the focus of the country's network of diplomatic missions.

RG Casey House, Canberra, is the headquarters of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.


Before the Second World War, the British Government handled most of Australia's foreign policy.[3] The critical decision during the war was to more closely align the military and the diplomacy with the United States. The first accredited diplomat sent to any foreign country was Richard Casey, appointed in January 1940.[4] Since 1941, United States has been the most important ally and trading partner. Australian concluded an agreement in 1944 with New Zealand dealing with the security, welfare, and advancement of the people of the independent territories of the Pacific (the ANZAC pact).[5] After the war, Australia played a role in the Far Eastern Commission in Japan and supported Indonesian independence during that country's revolt against the Dutch (1945–49).[6]

Australia was one of the founders of both the United Nations and the South Pacific Commission (1947), and in 1950, it proposed the Colombo Plan to assist developing countries in Asia. In addition to contributing to UN forces in the Korean War – it was the first country to announce it would do so after the United States – Australia sent troops to assist in putting down the communist revolt in Malaya in 1948–60 and later to combat the Indonesian-supported invasion of Sarawak in 1963–65.[7]

Australia sent troops to repel communism and assist South Vietnamese and American forces in the Vietnam War, in a move that stirred up antiwar activism at home.[8] It joined coalition forces in the Persian Gulf War in 1991. Australia has been active in the Australia – New Zealand – United Kingdom agreement and the Five Power Defence Arrangement—successive arrangements with Britain and New Zealand to ensure the security of Singapore and Malaysia.

In 1999 Australian peace keeping forces intervened in East Timor following its referendum to secede from Indonesia. In 2006 Australia sent a contingent of Australian troops to the state to assist in the 2006 East Timor crisis.[9]

International agencies, treaties, and agreements

One of the drafters of the UN Charter, Australia has given firm support to the United Nations and its specialised agencies. It was a member of the Security Council in 1986–87, a member of the Economic and Social Council in 1986–89, and a member of the UN Commission on Human Rights in 1994–96. Australia takes a prominent part in many other UN activities, including peacekeeping, disarmament negotiations, and narcotics control.

Australia also is active in meetings of the Commonwealth Heads of Government and the Pacific Islands Forum, and has been a leader in the Cairns Group – countries pressing for agricultural trade reform in the Uruguay Round of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) negotiations – and in the APEC forum. In September 1999, acting under a UN Security Council mandate, Australia led an international coalition to restore order in East Timor upon Indonesia's withdrawal from that territory.

Australia has devoted particular attention to relations between developed and developing nations, with emphasis on the countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) – Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, the Philippines, and Brunei – and the island states of the South Pacific. Australia is an active participant in the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF), which promotes regional co-operation on security issues. Australia was a participant at the inaugural ASEAN sponsored East Asia Summit in 2005. Australia's place at the summit was only secured after it agreed to reverse its policy and accede to ASEAN's Treaty of Amity and Cooperation in Southeast Asia. Australia had been reluctant to sign the treaty out of concerns regarding how it would affect Australia's obligation under other treaty arrangements including ANZUS.

Papua New Guinea (PNG), a former Australian territory, is the largest recipient of Australian assistance. Starting in 1997–99 Australia contributed to the IMF program for Thailand and assisted Indonesia and PNG with regional environmental crisis and drought relief efforts.

Security treaties

Australia is party to the Australia, New Zealand, United States security treaty.

It has also been a party of the Australia, New Zealand, United Kingdom force.


Overall Australia's largest trading partners are the United States, Korea, Japan, China, and the United Kingdom. Australia currently has bilateral Free Trade Agreements with New Zealand, the United States, Thailand and Singapore as of 2007. As well as this, Australia is in the process undertaking studies on Free Trade Agreements with ASEAN, China, Chile, India, Indonesia, and Malaysia.


To bolster its foreign policy, Australia maintains a very well-equipped military, According to SIPRI, Australia is the sixth largest importer of major weapons in the world. The US supplied 68 per cent of Australia's imports and Spain 19 per cent. Australia is modernising its armed forces but also acquiring weapons that significantly increase its long-range capabilities. Among the weapons imported in 2010–14 were 5 tanker aircraft and the first of 2 amphibious assault ships from Spain, along with 2 large transport aircraft and 4 airborne early warning (AEW) aircraft from the USA. Australia also received 26 combat aircraft from the USA, with 82 more on order (see box 3), as well as 8 anti-submarine warfare aircraft from the USA and 3 Hobart destroyers from Spain.[2]

Foreign missions

Embassy of Australia in Washington
Australia House, Canada, is an example of an Australian mission (it serves as the ambassadorial residence). As Canada is a fellow Commonwealth nation, Australia maintains a High Commission there.

Australia has diplomatic representatives in over 90 locations. Australia has official relations with a number of countries. In a number of countries, Australia maintains an embassy, or in the case of Commonwealth countries, a high commission. Australia has consulates in many countries where there are no official government ties in existence, and these serve primarily to assist Australian travellers and business people visiting those countries. A number of Canadian missions provide consular assistance to Australians in countries in Africa where Australia does not maintain an office (and Australia reciprocates this arrangement for Canada in some other countries) through the Canada-Australia Consular Services Sharing Agreement.[10]

Due to the One China Policy of the People's Republic of China, the Australian Office in Taiwan (formerly the Australian Commerce and Industry Office) unofficially represents Australia's interest in Taiwan, serving a function similar to other Australian Consulates.


Australia is a member of the Pacific Islands Forum and other regional organisations. It has High Commissions in Fiji, Kiribati, Nauru, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, the Solomon Islands, Tonga and Vanuatu. It has an embassy in the Federated States of Micronesia. Australia provides aid to many of its developing Pacific Islands neighbours, and to Papua New Guinea.

Australia's approach to the Pacific has included frequent references to what it has perceived as an "Arc of Instability" among its island neighbours. In August 2006 Australian Defence Minister Brendan Nelson stated to the Australian Parliament:

We cannot afford to have failing states in our region. The so-called 'arc of instability', which basically goes from East Timor through to the south-west Pacific states, means that not only does Australia have a responsibility in preventing and indeed assisting with humanitarian and disaster relief, but also that we cannot allow any of these countries to become havens for transnational crime, nor indeed havens for terrorism.[11]

As from early 2008, the Australian government led by Kevin Rudd began what it called a "new approach" to relations between Australia and the Pacific, appointing a Parliamentary Secretary for Pacific Island Affairs, Duncan Kerr. In February, Kerr and fellow Parliamentary Secretary for Foreign Affairs, Bob McMullan visited Samoa, Tonga and Kiribati in February, and stated:

"Broadly, the approach is one of much more partnership and engagement on the basis of mutual respect. We're not going to be lecturing or hectoring, we're going to try and work together with them and I think we set a pretty good standard with the way we started. The relationships we've established with ministers and leaders in those countries [Kiribati, Tonga and Samoa] is very positive."[12]


Relations with Fiji are strained due to Australia's condemnation of the military coup which overthrew the government of Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase in December 2006. Military leader and "interim Prime Minister" Voreqe Bainimarama accused Australia of "bullying" Fiji by applying sanctions and insisting on a swift return to a democratic government. In March 2008 the Fiji Human Rights Commission published a report which alleged that Australia might have been planning an armed intervention in Fiji in late 2006. Australian Foreign Minister Stephen Smith dismissed the allegations, and stated: "The best thing that can happen in Fiji is not spurious suggestions about Australian activity but having an election, returning Fiji to democracy, respecting human rights".[13]

On 4 November 2009, Fijian military leader, Voreqe (Frank) Bainimarama, expelled the Australian high commissioner James Batley and his New Zealand counterpart. He said that Australia and New Zealand had tried to undermine Fiji's judiciary and weaken its economy. New Zealand and Australia disputed key aspects of Fiji's claims.[14] In response, Australia quickly expelled Fiji's acting high commissioner, Kamlesh Kumar Arya.[15]


Australian-Nauruan relations go back almost a century. Australia administered Nauru as a dependent territory from 1914 to 1968, and has remained one of Nauru's foremost economic and aid partners thereafter.

Relations between Australia and Nauru were essentially framed by the Pacific Solution, whereby Nauru housed a detention centre for unauthorised refugee applicants who had attempted to enter Australia, and Australia provided financial aid in return. The detention centre was closed by Australia in February 2008, causing Nauru to express concern regarding the future of its economy.[citation needed]

 New Zealand

The relationship between Australia and New Zealand is exceptionally close on both the national and interpersonal scales.[16] This close relationship goes back to the time of the first World War and the ANZAC Spirit forged at Gallipoli. Former New Zealand Prime Minister Mike Moore declared that Australians and New Zealanders have more in common than New Yorkers and Californians.[17]

 Papua New Guinea

Papua New Guinea is Australia's closest neighbour, and former dependent territory. Relations between Canberra and Port Moresby are close, although there have been tensions in recent years. Papua New Guinea has developed much closer relations with Australia than with Indonesia, the only country it shares a border with. The two countries are Commonwealth realms, and Papua New Guinea benefits from economic development aid from Australia.

Under the government of John Howard, Australia's relations with Michael Somare's Papua New Guinea worsened, primarily because of the "Julian Moti affair", but also because of the "shoes episode".

 Solomon Islands

Under the government of John Howard, Australia's relations with Manasseh Sogavare's Solomon Islands were strained, primarily because of the "Julian Moti affair". Sogavare notably accused Australia of conducting neo-colonialism in the Solomons via RAMSI. On 1 October 2007, the Solomon Islands' Foreign Affairs Minister Patteson Oti addressed the General Assembly of the United Nations, and accused Australia of undermining his country's sovereignty:

Mine is too nationalistic a government to become captive to the fortunes which justify our perpetual retention under siege. My [country's government] remain[s] unmoved by Australian resistance to our attempts to reclaim our sovereignty and independence.[18]

This led Australia to exercise its right of reply, denying the accusation.[19] Relations subsequently improved when both Howard and Sogavare lost office in December 2007, and their successors -Kevin Rudd and Derek Sikua- immediately set out to improve relations between Canberra and Honiara.

Australia currently leads the Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands, at the request of the Governor-General of the Solomon Islands.


Following the 2006 riots in Tonga, Australia sent police officers, at Tonga's request, to help stabilise the situation in the kingdom.

Southeast and East Asia

Country Formal Relations Began Notes
 East Timor See Australia–East Timor relations

Australia and East Timor are near neighbours with close political and trade ties. East Timor, one of the poorest countries in Asia, lies about 610 kilometres (380 mi) northwest of the Australian city of Darwin and Australia has played a prominent role in the young republic's history. Australia led the military force that helped stabilise the country after it chose independence from Indonesia in 1999 and has been a major source of aid since.

  • Australia has an embassy in Dili.
  • East Timor has an embassy in Canberra and a consulate general in Sydney.
 Brunei 1984 See Australia–Brunei relations
 Cambodia 1953 See Australia–Cambodia relations
  • Australia's embassy is situated in the Cambodian capital Phnom Penh and Cambodia's embassy is located in Australia's capital Canberra.
  • Australia played a major role in the United Nations Transitional Authority in Cambodia in the 1990s.
  • Cambodia and Australia signed a controversial refugee resettlement deal in September 2014.
 Indonesia See Australia–Indonesia relations

Since Indonesian independence, the two countries have maintained mutual diplomatic relations, formalised co-operation (especially in the fields of fisheries conservation, law enforcement, and justice co-operation), a measure of security co-operation, broadening treaty relationships, co-membership of regional forums, and co-participation in several multilateral Treaties of significance.

Recent years have seen a deepening of Australia's aid commitment to Indonesia, and Australia has become a popular venue for Indonesian students.[20]

In 2008–09 Indonesia is the largest recipient of Australian aid at a value of $462 million.[21]

 Japan See Australia–Japan relations

Australia-Japan relations are generally warm, substantial and driven by mutual interests, and have expanded beyond strong economic and commercial links to other spheres, including culture, tourism, defence and scientific co-operation.

 Malaysia See Australia–Malaysia relations

See Australia–Mongolia relations
Australia and Mongolia established relations in 1972. Relations have grown stronger in recent years with free-market reforms in Mongolia and high-profile visits from leaders of both countries. Trade between the two countries is small but mainly based on mining and there have been steps to grow this. Australia provides foreign aid to Mongolia.[23]

 Myanmar See Foreign relations of Myanmar

Australia and Nepal have had diplomatic relations for over 50 years. They have a modest trade relationship but Australia provides more foreign aid than exports. Australia has a few points of interest such as in tourism, commerce and education.[24]

 North Korea See Foreign relations of North Korea

Diplomatic relations are stressed due to North Korea's nuclear weapons program. Since October 2006 visas have not been issued for North Korean citizens and North Korean ships have been banned from Australia's ports. Economically, relations are more modest; North Korea ranks 125th in the order of Australia's trade partners, with two-way trade valued between A$6–11 million. On 22 April, North Korea threatened Australia with a nuclear strike.

 People's Republic of China See Australia–China relations
 Philippines See Australia–Philippines relations
  • Australia has an embassy in Manila.[25]
  • Philippines has an embassy in Canberra and a consulate general in Sydney.[26]
 Taiwan See Australia–Taiwan relations
  • Australia does not have diplomatic relations with Taiwan, in conjunction with its recognition of People's Republic of China, as the sole legitimate government of China.
  • Nevertheless, Australia supports Taiwan's participation in international organisations and encourages private investment.
  • Taiwan has four economic and cultural offices in Australia.
  • The two countries have a large trade relationship, with exports to Taiwan in 2011 worth over $9 billion and imports from Taiwan worth $3.8 billion.[citation needed]
 Singapore See Australia–Singapore relations
  • Australia has a high commission in Singapore.
  • Singapore has a high commission in Canberra.
  • Both countries are full members of the Commonwealth of Nations.
  • Both Australia and Singapore are members of the Five Power Defence Arrangements and often participate in military exercises together.[22]
 South Korea October 1961[27] See Australia–South Korea relations
 Thailand 1952 See Australia–Thailand relations
 Vietnam 1973


Country Formal Relations Began Notes
 Argentina See Foreign relations of Argentina#Australia

Australia and Argentina both have embassies in each other's capitals. They are both members of multi-national groups such as the G20 and Cairns Group and share common interests in many issues such as Antarctica and international peacekeeping. There is significant trade and investment between the two countries.

 Barbados See Australia–Barbados relations
  • The Australian High Commissioner to Barbados is accredited from Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago.[32]
  • Barbados is represented in Australia through its High Commission in Ottawa, Ontario, (Canada). Barbados maintains an honorary consul in Australia. Barbados and Australia established diplomatic relations on 7 January 1974. Both Barbados and Australia are current members of the United Nations, Commonwealth of Nations, and comprised as former parts of the British Empire.

Bolivia and Australia work together on a wide variety of issues. There is investment in mining services and technology. Bolivia and Australia are part of the Cairns Group. Still trade is quite small, In 2002 The Hon Mark Vaile visited Santa Cruz for the Cairns Group meeting. Bolivia has an embassy in Canberra. Australia has a consulate in La Paz. Australia–Bolivia bilateral treaties include two extradition treaties.

 Brazil See Australia–Brazil relations

Brazil has an embassy in Canberra and a consulate general in Sydney. Australia has an embassy in Brasília and a consulate in São Paulo.

 Canada See Australia–Canada relations

Canada's and Australia's militaries have fought alongside each other numerous times including the Second Boer War, World War I, World War II, the Korean War and many United Nations Security Council-sanctioned missions. To maintain this military alliance, a Canadian Defence Advisor is stationed at the High Commission in Canberra to share intelligence.[34] Australia and Canada both contributed the International force in East Timor and both worked closely together to fight terrorism in Afghanistan

 Chile See Australia–Chile relations

During the Australian gold rush of the 1850s, Chile became one of Australia's major food suppliers. After 1866, however, interaction and trade was minimal.[35] Today both are members of the APEC the Cairns Group.

Australia and Chile signed the Australia-Chile Free Trade Agreement on 30 July 2008. The agreement came into effect in the first quarter of 2009.

 Colombia September 1975

Australia and Colombia are part of the Cairns Group. Colombia reopened its embassy in Canberra in 2008, Australia established an honorary consulate in Bogotá in 1989 and opened a resident embassy in Bogotá in 2017.[36] Colombia and Australia have a growing trade relationship in mining and Agriculture. Both armies fought alongside each other in the Korean war. A total of 6 Australia–Colombia bilateral treaties, all extended to Australia by the British Empire, are in force with Columbia, covering trade, arbitration and extradition.


Official relations began in January 1989. Cuba opened an embassy in Australia on 24 October 2008. The relations between the countries were given a fresh new start in 2009, When the foreign minister at the time Stephen Smith visited Cuba. Foreign Minister of Cuba Bruno Rodriguez, visited Australia as a guest of government in 2010. There are only two Australia–Cuba bilateral treaties, extended to Australia by the British Empire covering extradition.


Ecuador has an embassy in Canberra. Australia's embassy in Santiago, Chile is accredited to Ecuador. Trade between the two countries is small but is increasing and there are future opportunities to strengthen trade and investment. A number of Australia–Ecuador bilateral treaties have been agreed between the two countries - such as extradition.

 El Salvador

There is a large Salvadoran community in Australia, many of whom migrated after the Salvadoran Civil War. There are some old Australia–El Salvador bilateral treaties covering trade and extradition.


There are four Australia–Guatemala bilateral treaties extended to Australia by the British Empire. Guatemala has an embassy in Canberra, Australia.[37] The Australian embassy in Mexico has consular responsibility for Guatemala.[38] Trade between the two countries is A$32 Million.[39]

  • Australia is represented in Grenada by its High Commission in Trinidad and Tobago[40].
  • Both countries are full members of the Commonwealth of Nations.

Both countries members of the Commonwealth of nations and have sporting ties, particularly cricket. Trade is modest, with the balance heavily in Australia's favour.

 Mexico 1966 See Australia–Mexico relations

The two APEC members Australia and Mexico celebrated the 40th anniversary of diplomatic relations in 2006. Cooperation expansions recently has resulted in several commercial outcomes, including bilateral double taxation agreements signed in 2004, a memorandum of understanding on mining (MOU) in 2002, an MOU on Training and Education signed in 2003 an MOU on energy in 2005 and in August 2005 an MOU on investment protection and promotion agreement. Two-way trade is worth A$2.5 billion.[citation needed]

 Paraguay See Australia–Paraguay relations

Australia's relations with Paraguay are growing. In 2011, Paraguay opened an embassy in Canberra, Australia opened a consulate in Asunción. As agricultural producers and exporters, they work together to achieve fairer international trade in agricultural products through membership of the Cairns Group and co-operation in other multilateral fora. Australia is also increasing its engagement with Paraguay through development co-operation and people-to-people exchanges. An increasing number of Paraguayan students are pursuing their education at Australian institutions.[41]

 Peru 1963 See Foreign relations of Peru#Australia

The two APEC members have worked together on a wide range of issues. The two countries have mutual interests. In 2006 the Australian Bureau of Meteorology has signed a memorandum of understanding to help with the El Niño and La Niña weather patterns.[citation needed] Another memorandum of understanding was signed on co-operation with education. With goodwill the Peruvian congress signed a Peru Australia Friendship league in 2004. Trade ties are strong and are growing. Many big mining companies have offices in Peru. Peru has an embassy in Canberra. Australia has an embassy in Lima.

 Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
  • Australia is represented in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines by its High Commission in Trinidad and Tobago[42].
  • Both countries are full members of the Commonwealth of Nations.
 United States
Prime Minister of Australia, John Howard, with US President George W. Bush on 16 May 2006, during Howard's seventh official visit to the White House as Prime Minister. From left to right: the Prime Minister's wife Janette Howard, former US First Lady Laura Bush, Howard and Bush.

See Australia–United States relations

While Australia has emphasised its relationship with the United States since 1942, as Britain's influence in Asia declined. At the governmental level, United-States-Australia relations are formalised by the ANZUS treaty and the Australia-United States Free Trade Agreement.

 Uruguay See Australia–Uruguay relations
  • Australia is represented in Uruguay through its embassy in Buenos Aires (Argentina) and an honorary consulate in Montevideo.
  • Uruguay has an embassy in Canberra and a general consulate in Sydney.
  • Australia and Uruguay share an interest in the Antarctic waters and the fisheries therein.
  • Australia is represented in Venezuela through its embassy in Chile. Venezuela has an embassy in Canberra
  • Bilateral trade is modest, in particular the mining sectors of both countries.


Country Formal Relations Began Notes
 Albania 1985
  • Albania has a consulate in Adelaide and Australia's embassy in Greece is accredited to Albania
  • Albania's foreign minister Edmond Panariti visited Australia in August 2012, following on from a visit to Albania from Richard Marles, parliamentary secretary for foreign affairs.[43]
  • There are approximately 11,000 people in Australia of Albanian descent.
  • In recent years, the Australian Government has provided financial and humanitarian assistance to Albania.

The first Armenians migrated to Australia in the 1850s, during the gold rush. The majority came to Australia in the 1960s, starting with the Armenians of Egypt after Nasser came to power then, in the early 1970s, from Cyprus after the Turkish occupation of the island and from 1975 until 1992, a period of civil unrest in Lebanon. Person-to-person governmental links are increasing although they are still modest. In September 2003, The Hon Mr Philip Ruddock MP visited Armenia in his former capacity as Australian Minister for Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs. In October 2005, the Armenian Foreign Minister, H.E. Mr Vardan Oskanyan, visited Australia. In November 2005, The Hon Mr Joe Hockey MP, Minister for Human Services, visited Armenia. The Parliament of the Commonwealth of Australia has not passed a motion recognising the mass murder of Armenians in 1915 as genocide, although the State of NSW has done so. The Australian Government elections of 2007 created an atmosphere in which the Opposition Labor party declared it will push for the Recognition of the Armenian Genocide in Australian Parliament if Labor wins the Elections.[citation needed]

 Austria See Foreign relations of Austria#Bilateral relationships
 Belarus 9 January 1992[44]
  • Australia is represented in Belarus through its embassy in Moscow, Russia.[45]
  • Belarus has an embassy in Canberra.[46]
  • Both countries have a growing bilateral commercial relationship, going back to World War One when they entered after Belgium was invaded by Germany.
  • They share similar approaches to many international issues, including arms control, whaling and Antarctica.
  • Trade and investment relations are very significant. In 2012, total Belgian investment in Australia was valued at A$6.4 billion, and Australian investment in Belgium totalled $2 billion. In 2012, Belgium was ranked as Australia's 24th largest merchandise trading partner.[47]
  • Almost 30 Australia–Belgium bilateral treaties cover extradition, trade, taxation, and social security.
 Bosnia and Herzegovina 1994
  • Australia recognised Bosnia and Herzegovina in 1992 and established diplomatic relations in 1994.
  • Australia has a consulate in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina has an embassy in Canberra.
  • Australia has a continuing interest in efforts to maintain peace and build prosperity in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Since 1993–94, Australia has contributed humanitarian assistance worth over A$17 million to countries in the Balkans, including to Bosnia and Herzegovina.[48]
 Bulgaria 1972
  • Australia is represented in Bulgaria through its embassy in Athens (Greece). Australia has an honorary consulate in Sofia.[49]
  • Bulgaria has an embassy in Canberra.[50]
 Croatia 1992

Australia gave recognition of Croatia in January 1992

  • Australia has an embassy in Zagreb, Croatia have an embassy in Canberra in addition to consulates in Melbourne, Sydney and Perth
  • Over 118,000 Australians are of Croatian descent, the largest of the former Yugoslav nations.
  • The two nations have signed a few bilateral agreements such as a social security agreement in May 2003 to give greater protection to people who have lived or worked in Australia and/or Croatia.
  • Bilateral trade is worth A$42 million.[51]
 Czech Republic 1920
 Denmark See Australia–Denmark relations
 Estonia 22 September 1921[57] See Australia–Estonia relations

Australia was among the first countries to re-recognise Estonia's independence on 27 August 1991. Both countries re-established diplomatic relations on 21 November 1991.[57]

Australia is represented in Estonia through its embassy in Stockholm (Sweden), and through an honorary consulate in Tallinn. Estonia is represented in Australia through its embassy in Canberra and four honorary consulates (in Claremont, Hobart, Melbourne and Sydney).[58] Australia is host to one of the largest communities of Estonians abroad, with 8,232 people identifying as Estonian in the 2006 Australian Census.[57][59]

 Finland See Australia–Finland relations

Diplomatic relations were established on 31 May 1949. Australia is represented in Finland through its embassy in Stockholm, Sweden, and through an honorary consulate in Helsinki. Finland has an embassy in Canberra and a consulate in Sydney.

 France See Australia–France relations

France and Australia have a close relationship founded on historical contacts, shared values of democracy and human rights, substantial commercial links, and a keen interest in each other's culture.

 Germany See Australia–Germany relations
  • Australia has an embassy in Berlin and a general consulate in Frankfurt.
  • Germany has an embassy in Canberra.
  • Trade between the 2 countries is sizeable but heavily weighted to imports from Germany. In 2008, total two-way merchandise trade was valued at over A$13.4 billion, of which A$11.4 billion (85 per cent) were imports from Germany.[60]
 Hungary 1972
  • Australia's Danish consulate is accredited to Iceland and Iceland has 3 consulates in Australia.
  • Trade between the two countries is modest.
 Ireland See Australia–Ireland relations
 Kosovo 21 May 2008[71] See Australia–Kosovo relations
  • Australia recognised the Republic of Kosovo on 19 February 2008.[72]
  • Australia's Ambassador to Kosovo is subordinate to the embassy in Vienna.[73]
  • Kosovo has an embassy in Canberra.[74]

Australia is represented in Kyrgyzstan by its embassy in Moscow[75].

 Macedonia 15 February 1994
  • Both countries established diplomatic relations on 15 February 1994.[76]
  • Australia is represented in Macedonia by its embassy in Belgrade, Serbia and an honorary consulate in Skopje.[77]
  • Macedonia has and embassy in Canberra.[78]
 Malta 1967

See Australia–Malta relations


Australia is represented in Moldova by its embassy in Moscow[81].

 Montenegro 1 September 2006

See Australia–Netherlands relations

  • Australia has an embassy in The Hague
  • The Netherlands has an embassy in Canberra.
  • Australia has an honorary consulate in Oslo, and is represented in Norway through its embassy in Copenhagen (Denmark).
  • Norway has an embassy in Canberra.

See Australia–Norway relations

 Poland February 1972 See Australia–Poland relations
  • Australia has an embassy in Warsaw.[82]
  • Poland has an embassy in Canberra and a consulate-general in Sydney.[83]
  • 170,000 people of Polish ancestry live in Australia. The Polish community is active in promoting people-to-people contact and commercial and academic ties through a number of community organisations, bilateral business councils and institutes.
  • Australian investment in Poland is valued at around A$570 million.[84]
  • Australia has an embassy in Lisbon while Portugal have an embassy in Canberra and a consulate in Sydney
  • Both countries disagreed on East Timor during the twentieth century but today work closely in ensuring stability there and giving foreign aid.
  • There are 40,000 people of Portuguese descent in Australia.
  • Australia had a strong trade relationship with Portugal but recently has diminished due to the European sovereign-debt crisis
  • They have signed a few bilateral agreements on social security and Visas.[85]
 Romania 18 March 1968
  • Australia has a non-resident ambassador in its embassy in Belgrade (Serbia), and has a consulate general in Bucharest.
  • Romania has an embassy in Canberra and a general consulate in Sydney.[86]
  • Romania and Australia have concluded an Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement, signed in 1994, a Trade and Economic Agreement (signed with full effect for Australia in July 2002 and for Romania in January 2003) and an Agreement for the Avoidance of Double Taxation and the Prevention of Fiscal Evasion, signed in 2001.[87]
 Russia 1942 See Australia–Russia relations
 Serbia 1966 See Australia–Serbia relations
  • Australia has an embassy in Belgrade. The Australian Ambassador to Serbia is Dr Helena Studdert.
  • Serbia has an embassy in Canberra and a general consulate in Sydney. Serbian Ambassador to Australia is due to arrive in late 2010 and consul-general in Sydney is Aleksandar Besarabić.
  • The European office of the Australian Federal Police is located in Belgrade as of 2003.
  • In the 2006 Australian Census, 95,364 people identified themselves as having Serbian origin.
 Slovakia 1993
  • Australia's embassy in Vienna is accredited to Slovakia.
  • Slovakia has an embassy in Canberra and consulates in Brisbane and Melbourne.
  • Two-way trade between the countries stands at $115 million.
  • There are approximately 10,000 people of Slovak origin living in Australia.[90]
 Slovenia 5 February 1992
 Spain 26 October 1967 See Australia–Spain relations
  • Australia has an embassy in Madrid.
  • Spain has an embassy in Canberra and consulates-general in Melbourne and Sydney.
 Sweden See Australia–Sweden relations

Australia has an embassy in Stockholm. Sweden has an embassy in Canberra as well as a consulate-general in Sydney. Sweden is also represented by consulates in Adelaide, Brisbane, Cairns, Darwin, Hobart, Melbourne and Perth.

  Switzerland 1961
  • Ukraine opened an embassy in Canberra in March 2003.[93]
  • Australia's ambassador in Vienna is accredited to Ukraine.
  • The 2006 Census recorded 13,665 Ukrainian-born persons in Australia. Most Ukrainian migrants to Australia arrived in the post-World War II period.

The small but active Ukrainian community in Australia plays an important role in developing bilateral relations. In 2002 the Australian Federation of Ukrainian Organisations helped establish Ukrainian-Australian House in Kyiv to promote commercial ties.

 United Kingdom See Australia–United Kingdom relations

British-Australian relations are close, marked by shared history, culture, institutions and language, extensive people-to-people links, aligned security interests, and vibrant trade and investment co-operation.

  Vatican City 1973
  • Since the establishment of diplomatic relations with the Holy See in 1973, Australia has maintained a non-resident Head of Mission, based in another European capital, as well as an office at the Holy See, headed by a Counsellor.
  • The Holy See has maintained an Apostolic Nunciature in Canberra since 1973.
  • On 21 July 2008, the Australian Government announced that it would appoint for the first time a resident Ambassador to the Holy See – the Hon Tim Fischer AC. According to the Australian Foreign Ministry, this marked a significant deepening of Australia's relations with the Vatican since it would allow Australia to expand dialogue with the Vatican in areas including human rights, political and religious freedom, inter-faith dialogue, food security, arms control, refugees and anti-people trafficking, and climate change.[94] Mr Fischer commenced his appointment on 30 January 2009 and presented credentials to Pope Benedict XVI on 12 February 2009.
  • The Australian Prime Minister, Mr Rudd, visited the Pope Benedict XVI and met the Vatican's Secretary of State on 9 July 2009.
  • The Australian Minister for Foreign Affairs, the Hon Stephen Smith MP, met HE Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, the Holy See's Secretary for Relations with States on 3 December 2008 during his visit to Oslo to sign the Convention on Cluster Munitions. The Holy See played a facilitating role in relation to the Oslo process as a member of the Core Group of States.

South Asia and Central Asia

Country Formal Relations Began Notes
 Afghanistan 1994
 Bangladesh 1971 See Australia–Bangladesh relations
  • Australia was the fourth country, and the first in the developed world, to recognise Bangladesh's independence in 1971. A high commission was opened in Dhaka and relations have been warm since then.
  • In 2008, Bangladesh signed a bilateral counter-terrorism MOU with Australia, their first with any country.
  • The number of Bangladeshis in Australia has increased in recent years.
  • Bangladesh is a significant recipient of foreign aid from Australia.[98]
 India 1941 See Australia–India relations[99]
  • India established diplomatic relations with Australia in 1941, six years before its independence. The Australian Government subsequently supported the independence of India and Pakistan from the British Empire.[100]
  • India and Australia share close historical ties, with both countries being former British colonies and members of the Commonwealth of Nations. They also share close sporting ties, with both countries sharing their passion for cricket.[101] They also compete against each other in field hockey and in the Commonwealth Games.
  • Economic relations between the two nations is strong, with India being Australia's fourth largest export partner and the eighth largest trading partner.[102]
  • In 1963 Australia provide defence aid to India in the face of Chinese action.[103]
  • In 2009, relations were strained between the two nations by attacks on Indian students (termed Curry Bashings) in Melbourne.[104] Police denied any racial motivation, but this was viewed differently by the Government of India leading to high-level meetings with Australian officials.[105]
  • The persistent refusal of Australia to sell uranium to India due to the latter not being a signatory to the NPT has also hampered bilateral relations. However, this policy was reversed in 2011.[106]

Australia and Kazakhstan relations began in 1992. Since then Kazakhstan has opened a consulate in Sydney in 1996, but it closed in 2003 due to resource constraints.[citation needed] There have been a number of high level visits taken place between the two countries to sign co-operation agreements between the two countries. Trade relations are modest.

 Pakistan See Australia–Pakistan relations
  • Relations with Pakistan started before partition. Australia supported India and Pakistan's independence.[100]
  • In 1960, Australia provided A£11 million in aid to Pakistan as part of the Indus Waters Treaty.[107]
  • The relations between the two countries have been friendly, with former Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf having visited Australia in 2005[108] and the former Prime Minister of Australia, John Howard, also having extended a visit to Pakistan in 2005 as well, following the 2005 Kashmir earthquake which had immensely targeted the northern areas of Pakistan. He also announced 500 new scholarships for students in Pakistan to study in Australia.[109]
 Sri Lanka
  • Bilateral relations are generally warm, supported by trade, investment flows, education, immigration and other development co-operations. Australia is also a member in helping the economic and social development of Sri Lanka.
  • In 2007 a two-way trade agreement was created between Australia and Sri Lanka valued at $232 million a year. The trade agreement includes exports from Australia such as vegetables and dairy products. Tea and other foods, textiles, clothing, rubber, iron and steel which are the main imports from Sri Lanka.
  • In 2008–09 the estimated budget for aid to Sri Lanka is $27 million.[110]

Sri Lanka Country Brief


Australia is represented in Tajikistan by its embassy in Moscow[111].

Western Asia

Country Formal relations began Notes
 Azerbaijan 1992
  • Australia and Azerbaijan established diplomatic contacts in June 1992.[112]
 Georgia 1992
  • Australia recognised Georgia's independence in 1992.
  • Australia's embassy in Turkey is accredited to Georgia, Georgia has a consulate in Australia.
  • In 2008 Australia provided $1 million in humanitarian aid to Georgia in the aftermath of the Russo-Georgian War.
  • There are modest trade relations
 Iran 1968
  • Australia opened an embassy in Tehran in 1968[113] and Iran have had an embassy in Canberra since 1971.
  • Two-way trade has diminished in recent years but was still over $200 million as of 2011.
  • Australia, like most Western countries, have expressed concerns about Iran's human-rights record and its nuclear-weapons program.[114]
  • 25,000 people of Iranian descent live in Australia.
 Iraq 1968
  • Australia and Iraq have had varying relations since 1938, improving following the fall of Saddam Hussein in 2003.
  • Australia provides foreign aid; there is also a modest trade relationship that both countries strive to enlarge in the coming years.
  • A sizeable Iraqi community lives in Australia.
  • In 2009 Nouri al-Maliki became the first Iraqi prime minister to visit Australia. He and then Australian prime minister Kevin Rudd signed a declaration to increase co-operation and to strengthen trade and investment ties.[115]
 Israel 1948 See Australia–Israel relations
 Jordan 1975
  • Australia has an embassy in Amman and Jordan has an embassy in Canberra.
  • Trade relations are significant, valued at over $150 million.
  • Australia enjoys friendly relations with Lebanon. Australia has an embassy in Beirut and Lebanon has an embassy in Canberra.
  • 74,000 Lebanese-born people live in Australia, mainly in Sydney, and there are more people of Lebanese descent including Marie Bashir, Steve Bracks and Hazem El Masri.
  • Australia has a modest trade relationship with Lebanon and has also given foreign aid in the aftermath of the Lebanese civil war[118] of 1975–1990.
 Saudi Arabia
  • Saudi Arabia is one of Australia's most important trading partners in the Middle East; two-way trade was valued[by whom?] at $1.9 billion in 2011.[119]
  • Australia has an embassy in Riyadh and Saudi Arabia has an embassy in Canberra.
  • A large number of Saudi students choose to study in Australia, mostly under the King Abdullah Scholarship Program. In 2009, 12,500 Saudi students enrolled in Australian educational institutions.[120]
  • Australians in Saudi Arabia are a sizeable community consisting mainly of up to 5,000 with the majority based in major commercial centres such as Riyadh and Jeddah.[121]
  • A Memorandum of Understanding was signed in Canberra between Australia-Saudi Business Council[122]
  • Official Press Agency stated on Apr,14,2015 that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and Australia are Discussing Developing Cooperation Ties[123]
  • Bilateral relations between the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and Australia have improved and progressed significantly in recent years and moved from normal relations to relations of mutual trust and partnership in various fields.[124]
  • Saudi Arabia's Foreign Affairs statement on Australian-Saudi Arabian relations
 Turkey 1967 See Australia–Turkey relations
 United Arab Emirates
  • Australia has an embassy in Abu Dhabi and a consulate in Dubai. The UAE have an embassy in Canberra.
  • Both countries have extensive trade relations. In 2009 trade was worth over A$4.25 billion.
  • There are 91 flights per week between the two countries, and roughly 12,000 to 15,000 Australians live and work in the UAE.
  • The countries have a shared strategic view on regional security, thanks to high-level dialogue between them.[127]


Country Formal Relations Began Notes
 Cape Verde

Australia and Cape Verde are represented to each other’s country through their respective embassies in Lisbon, Portugal[128].


Australia is represented in Comoros by its embassy in Port Louis[129].

 Egypt 1950
 Ghana 1957
  • Australia has an embassy in Accra and Ghana have an embassy in Canberra and a consulate-general in Sydney.[133][134]
  • Australia's trade relations are modest, valued at A$113 million in 2007, most of that exports to Ghana. Australian mining investment in Ghana has grown in recent years, primarily in the gold mining sector.
  • Australia also provides foreign aid to Ghana to alleviate poverty, improve the environment and promote human rights.[135]
  • Australia's relations with Kenya are based on Kenya's key role and position in East Africa and its importance in multilateral bodies such as the United Nations, the Commonwealth and the World Trade Organization. Australia and Kenya maintain High Commissions in Nairobi and Canberra respectively.
  • Australia has limited commercial interest in Kenya but the mining sector has grown in recent years and in 2007 Australian exports to Kenya were worth over $52 million.
  • Australia is a significant donor of foreign aid to Kenya
  • Australia was a major non-military backer of the revolutionaries during the Libyan Civil War, sending more humanitarian aid to Libya than any other single country after the United States.[136][137] It was relatively early to recognise the NTC, doing so on 9 June 2011, months before the capture of Tripoli.[138][139]
  • This was after years of stressed relations with Libya under the Gaddafi regime. Relations are now improving as a consequence. This was evident in December 2011, when then Australian Foreign Affairs Minister Kevin Rudd travelled to Libya to meet with Libyan Prime Minister Abdurrahim El-Keib. Rudd ceremonially hoisted the flag of Australia at his country's consul-general in Tripoli and pledged Canberra's support for efforts to remove unexploded landmines in Libya, as well as advice on Libya's planned transition to democratic governance.[140]

Australia's diplomatic representation to Madagascar is from the High Commission in Port Louis, Mauritius. Madagascar is represented by an honorary consul-general based in Sydney.[141]

 Morocco 1976 See Australia–Morocco relations
  • Morocco has had an embassy in Canberra since 2004, the Australian Embassy in Paris is accredited to Morocco.
  • Australian Parliamentary Delegations have visited Morocco in 1993, 2011 and 2013.
 Nigeria 1960
  • Australia has a high commission in Abuja and Nigeria have an embassy in Canberra
  • Both are members of the Commonwealth of Nations
  • Australia provides foreign aid to Nigeria in addition to exports such as plastics, dairy products and wine.[143]
 Sao Tome and Principe
  • Australia has modest relations with Somalia despite there not being a central government since 1991.
  • Australia provided over $61 million to Somalia in 2011 in response to the Horn of Africa humanitarian crisis.
  • In September 2012 following the election of Hassan Sheikh Ahmed Mohamoud, foreign minister Bob Carr said," Australia shares the cautious optimism of the international community about Somalia's future prospects."[146]
 South Africa See Australia–South Africa relations
  • Australia has a High Commission in Pretoria.
  • South Africa has a High Commission in Canberra.
  • The Australian Ambassador to Zimbabwe is accredited to Zambia as Australian High Commissioner. He is assisted by an honorary consul in Lusaka.[147]
  • Zambia has a High Commission in Canberra.[148]
  • Both countries are full members of Commonwealth of Nations.
 Zimbabwe See Australia–Zimbabwe relations

Both countries have full embassy-level diplomatic relations.[149] Australia currently manintains an embassy in Harare,[150] and Zimbabwe maintains an embassy in Canberra.[151]

See also


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Further reading

  • Abbondanza, Gabriele. The Geopolitics of Australia in the New Millennium: the Asia-Pacific Context (Aracne, 2013)
  • Beeson, Mark. "Issues in Australian Foreign Policy," The Australian Journal of Politics and History (2002) 48#2 online
  • Bisley, Nick. "Issues in Australian Foreign Policy: July to December 2011," Australian Journal of Politics & History (2012) 58#2 pp 268–82 DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-8497.2012.01636.x
  • Chieocharnpraphan, Thosaphon. Australian Foreign Policy under the Howard Government: Australia as a Middle Power? (2011)
  • Curley, Melissa, and Dane Moores. "Issues in Australian Foreign Policy, January to June 2011," Australian Journal of Politics & History (2011) 57#4 pp 597–613 DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-8497.2011.01617.x
  • Dalrymple, Rawdon. Continental Drift: Australia's Search for a Regional Identity (Aldershot, England: Ashgate, 2003). ISBN 0754634469.
  • Fels, Enrico. Shifting Power in Asia-Pacific? The Rise of China, Sino-US Competition and Regional Middle Power Allegiance. (Springer, 2017), pp. 365–436.
  • Firth, Stewart. Australia in International Politics: An Introduction to Australian Foreign Policy (3rd ed. 2011) online 2005 edition
  • Gyngell; Allan, and Michael Wesley. Making Australian Foreign Policy (Cambridge University Press, 2003) online
  • Hundt, David. "Issues in Australian Foreign Policy: July to December 2010," Australian Journal of Politics & History (2011) DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-8497.2011.01597.x
  • Lockyer, Adam, Australia's Defence Strategy: Evaluating Alternatives for a Contested Asia, (Melbourne: Melbourne University Press, 2017)
  • Ungerer, Carl. "The 'middle power' concept in Australian foreign policy." Australian Journal of Politics & History 53.4 (2007): 538–551.

External links