The Asia-Pacific zone and the French Pacific islands
Australia holds an important place in the political and economic functioning of the Asia-Pacific zone, and is therefore an excellent platform for developing business in this part of the world.
Free trade agreements have been signed with New Zealand, the US, Thailand, Chile and Singapore. A tripartite agreement was signed between Australia, New Zealand and ASEAN (Association of South-East Asian Nations) in 2009 (AANZFTA agreement). The Australian Trade Commission (Austrade) supports and advises companies in the use of this agreement to develop their business. Other agreements are in the process of discussion with China, India, Indonesia, Japan, South Korea and Malaysia.
Australia is a partner and member, respectively, of two large organisations responsible for the promotion of free trade between the countries of Asia-Pacific: ASEAN consisting of 10 members, and APEC (Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation) which has 21 members. Trade with ASEAN and APEC countries accounts for 15.1% and 69.1% respectively, of Australia’s total international trade.
Australia is also a founding member of the Pacific Islands Forum, an organisation of regional cooperation bringing together 16 independent countries and associated territories of Oceania. This organisation was created on 5 August 1981 in Wellington, New Zealand, as the South Pacific Forum.
The 16 member states and territories are Australia, New Zealand, Cook Islands, Fiji, Kiribati, Republic of Marshall Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Nauru, Niue, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Soloman Islands, Samoa, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu. New Caledonia and French Polynesia were declared associate members in 2006. Australia and New Zealand contribute 60% of the Forum’s budget, which goes toward development in the environment, telecommunications, civil aviation, energy, security, trade, fishing and maritime communication.
In contrast to the sometimes problematic relationship between France and New Caledonia, significant trade partnerships have developed between Australia and New Caledonia, and Australia and French Polynesia. In 2009-2010 Australia exported and imported goods and services to the value of AU$33m and AU$99.4m respectively. A Trade and Economic Relations Agreement was signed between Australia and New Caledonia in 2002, defining a framework for growth in mutual investments and bilateral trade.
In 2003 the Cercle d’Affairs Australie Nouvelle Calédonie (CAANC) was created, bringing together members of the Australian and New Caledonian business community. Links have also been established with the Australia Pacific Islands Business Council (APIBC) which organises an annual mission in New Caledonia in order to explore new business opportunities.
In 2009-2010 Australian exports AU$64.6m and imports AU$34m in bilateral trade with French Polynesia. As imports from French Polynesia are considered as coming from a “developing country” by Australian authorities, its exports to Australia enjoy a 5% discount on import duties.