The Turnbull Government has unveiled a powerful new foreign policy strategy in its White Paper released today, repositioning Australia in its changing Indo-Pacific context and providing a full-throated renunciation of protectionism.
“Today’s White Paper significantly repositions Australia in its Indo-Pacific context, providing a strong and realistic direction for the future while maintaining the importance of the longstanding US alliance. It recognises the critical link between foreign policy and economic policy,” said Business Council president Grant King.
“It recognises three crucial priorities – creating a more competitive domestic economy, building our human capital and reducing barriers to entry into the global trade system.
“Australia will also need to play a role as a middle power in the Indo-Pacific region, working with like-minded nations to guide the Indo-Pacific region towards more open and liberal trade as well reinforcing the rule based trade system.
“The paper also makes clear that Australia must forge ahead on the creation of new international trade deals, not allowing the perfect to become the enemy of the good.
“The emerging middle classes of our region will boost the economic growth of the Indo-Pacific but reaping these benefits will require a concerted effort, our growing region is not cause for complacency.
“I also welcome the commitment in this paper to maintaining the US Alliance and a US presence in our region – reinforcing an international rule based system of trade and playing a role in stabilising the region.
“Shadow Minister Penny Wong should also be congratulated for her mature commitment to preserving the core elements of the strategy and the US alliance. There are many areas of public policy which would benefit from a bipartisan approach, on Foreign Policy it is essential.
“The challenge of a rapidly changing regional structure will require a creative approach to realising the policy initiatives laid out in this paper and underscores the importance of a consistent foreign policy narrative.
“At a time when the voices of protectionism are becoming increasingly shrill it is heartening that the government has so strongly affirmed its commitment to international trade and liberalism.
“We commend this strategic approach that builds on existing and planned free trade agreements to bring the major Indo-Pacific economies under one set of trade and investment rules.
“The government’s renewed commitment to working more closely with business on Economic Diplomacy will deliver benefits to Australian exporters, deliver greater investment, and create quality, well-paid jobs for Australians.
“Australia has much to offer the world, not just in agriculture and resources, but in services, technology, innovation and our entrepreneurial spirit.
“We especially welcome the underlying narrative that informs the White Paper: Australia is a trading nation, and its prosperity is tied to global trade liberalisation and the international rule of law.”