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6 August: The Week in Australian Foreign Policy

06 Aug 2020
By Isabella Keith
Parliament House At Dusk, Canberra ACT Source: Thennicke

This week in Australian foreign affairs: a new Comprehensive Strategic and Economic Partnership with Papua New Guinea (PNG), Morrison’s comments at the Aspen Security Forum, Payne’s statement on Beirut, and more.

On 5 August, Prime Minister Scott Morrison joined the Prime Minister of PNG, James Marape, for a Virtual Summit. Morrison announced a new Comprehensive Strategic and Economic Partnership (CSEP) with PNG. The CSEP “provides an enduring and overarching framework for deepening bilateral cooperation across security, trade and investment, governance, development cooperation, health, education, gender equality, climate change, people-to-people and institutional links.” Progress in these areas will be “reviewed periodically, with a comprehensive review in 2030.”

Morrison also addressed the Aspen Security Forum in the US on 5 August, where he discussed China and the United States’ “special responsibility to uphold … ‘the common set of rules that build an international society’.” He also warned that “the sense of unity necessary among like-minded partners can be undermined if positive political and security relationships are accompanied by abrasive or confrontational trade relationships.”

Minister for Foreign Affairs Marise Payne released a statement on 5 August on the explosion in Beirut. She announced that Australia will direct $2 million in humanitarian support to Lebanon “to help with the recovery from the devastating explosions,” to be drawn from the existing aid budget. Payne also noted that the Australian Embassy in Beirut has been damaged “significantly” by the explosions, with some Embassy staff injured, but all “safe and accounted for.”

Shadow Minister for Foreign Affairs Penny Wong also released a statement about the Beirut explosion, calling on the Morrison government “to offer direct help to Lebanese authorities,” and stated that “Labor is seeking an urgent briefing on the situation.”

On 4 August, Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment Simon Birmingham announced that Australia recorded its largest financial year trade surplus in 2019-20 of $77.4 billion, despite “severe global economic shocks from COVID-19.”

A joint statement was released on 4 August by Payne and Minister for International Development and the Pacific Alex Hawke regarding a trial resumption of the Pacific Labour Scheme and Seasonal Worker Programme in the Northern Territory. This trial will involve up to 170 workers coming to Australia from Vanuatu to support the Territory’s mango industry. The workers will have to spend in 14 days in quarantine prior to beginning work.

Payne and Hawke also released a statement celebrating Vanuatu’s 40th independence anniversary on 30 July, acknowledging the two nations’ “close and long-standing relationship founded on history, common values and a shared home in the Pacific.”

Isabella Keith is an intern at AIIA National Office.

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