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11 August 2023: The Week in Australian Foreign Affairs

11 Aug 2023
By Isabella Keith
Parliament House At Dusk, Canberra ACT Source: Thennicke

This week in Australian foreign affairs: Albanese announces visit to Washington DC, resolution of barley dispute with China, new International Development Policy, release of the Development Finance Review, and more.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese announced on 10 August that he will travel to the United States from 23 to 26 October for an official visit hosted by President Joseph R Biden Jr in Washington DC. This will be Albanese’s first official visit to Washington DC as Prime Minister. The leaders “will look at ways the economic relationship between Australia and the United States can be made fit for the opportunities of the future to the benefit of workers and businesses in both countries” and “will also discuss regional stability and security, AUKUS, strengthening cooperation in science and technology and the importance of together shaping an open, stable and prosperous Indo-Pacific.”

On 4 August, Minister for Foreign Affairs Penny Wong, Minister for Trade Don Farrell, and Minister for Agriculture Murray Watt issued a joint statement on the resolution of the barley dispute with China. The Ministers stated that the Government had been notified that effective 5 August, “China will remove the 80.5 per cent anti-dumping and countervailing duties on Australian barley.” They welcomed the outcome, and noted that it “affirms the calm and consistent approach that the Albanese Government has taken”. The Ministers also confirmed that they Australia will now discontinue the legal proceedings at the World Trade Organization. They emphasised that “the Australian Government’s approach has been to cooperate with China where we can, disagree where we must and engage in our national interest” and that “the outcome on barley reflects that approach.” Farrell and Watt further welcomed an announcement by China on 9 August to re-register two of Australia’s barley exporters, CBH Grain and Emerald Grain Australia. The Ministers noted that the reinstatement “is the result of ongoing technical discussions between our two countries” and “another positive step towards the stabilisation of our relationship with China.” Shadow Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Birmingham and Shadow Minister for Trade Kevin Hogan welcomed the announcement in a joint statement, where they also urged the Government to work to remove tariffs on wine, as well as to “continue to be applying every possible lever it can for the release of unfairly detained Australians Ms Cheng Lei and Dr Yang Jun.”

Wong and Conroy announced Australia’s new International Development Policy and the release of the Development Finance Review on 8 August. The Policy is the first in nearly a decade, and will “drive the Government’s aid investments in tackling regional challenges like poverty, economic growth, healthcare, infrastructure investment, climate change and gender equality.” It will “underpin the Government’s record international development investments, which are delivering $1.7 billion in new spending over five years and a commitment to long-term growth of the development program.” Moreover, as recommended by the Review, the Government will establish Australian Development Investments, “a new vehicle providing up to $250 million as a catalyst for private impact investment in the Indo-Pacific.” Birmingham and Shadow Minister for International Development Michael McCormack “welcome[d]” the Policy’s release, while noting that they “will be closely monitoring progress on this key development.” In a speech launching the Policy, Conroy summarised Australia’s approach to development assistance: “it is based on the priorities of our partners; we are transparent; it is not transactional; we use every opportunity to drive local employment, procurement and skills development; and it is a high-quality offering.” He also announced a new Civil Society Partnerships Fund which will stand alongside the existing Australian NGO Cooperation Program.

On 10 August, Farrell issued a statement noting that Australia had been “reincluded on China’s list of approved outgoing group travel destinations” through the Approved Destination Status (ADS) program, for the first time since borders re-opened. He referred to the announcement as “another positive step towards the stabilisation of our relationship with China” and that the Government “will now work with Chinese counterparts to facilitate ADS travel.”

Isabella Keith is a weekly columnist for Australian Outlook. She is also a Research Assistant, Sessional Academic, and Honours student in Law at the Australian National University, with a focus on international law. Isabella attended the AIIA #NextGen study tour to South Korea last year, and was also a delegate to the AIIA’s Australia-Korea-New Zealand and Australia-United States-Japan Policy Forums. She can be found on Twitter here.

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