Bishop: Building Economic Diplomacy

Strengthening Australia's economy and leveraging economic policies to strengthen diplomatic standing

The Hon Warwick Smith AM, the Hon Julie Bishop and Karen Wood in at the Asia Society lunch in Melbourne

MELBOURNE, 23 MAY 2013 — The Hon. Julie Bishop MP, Deputy Leader of the Opposition and Shadow Foreign Affairs Minister, addressed Asia Society Australia boardroom lunch hosted by BHP Billiton and discussed key aspects in relation to Australia’s foreign and trade policies.

The focus of Ms Bishop’s presentation was on the importance of implementing a foreign policy to strengthen our economy and leveraging our economic policies to strengthen our diplomatic standing.

Enhancing Australia’s open, export-orientated economy through "economic diplomacy" was a key theme throughout the discussion. The Asia Pacific and Indian Ocean are of critical strategic importance to Australia. Ms Bishop commented, “Australia’s standing in the world is at its highest when our influence in our region is at its strongest.”

“The Coalition will focus our foreign policy assets, whether it be military and defence capability, economic and trade capacity, diplomatic and foreign aid activities on our region, not exclusively but unmistakably.”

Ms Bishop referred to the priority a Coalition Government would give to finalising the current FTA negotiations with a range of countries in the region including China, South Korea, Indonesia and Japan. Papua New Guinea was also cited as a missed the opportunity to transition Australia’s relationship with PNG from an aid donor to an economic partner.

Ms Bishop also expressed an interest in seeing all agencies relating to foreign policy and those with an in-bound focus, being aligned to promote Australia’s economic prosperity and national security. The resourcing of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade is at a record low and it is the view of the Coalition that DFAT needs to be restored as the major implementer of Australia’s foreign policy.

Initiatives such as the Coalition’s New Colombo Plan for Australian students to undertake studies in our region were also discussed as key plans that will enhance Australia’s engagement in the region.

Reported by Georgie Skipper