The Abacus

2017 Foreign Policy White Paper

By: ACBC
24-11-2017

Today the Government released its long-awaited Foreign Policy White Paper.  It’s worth noting that the last major foreign policy white paper in Australia (excluding last year’s Defence White Paper) was ‘Australia in the Asian Century’ in 2012.

ACBC made a submission to the 2017 Foreign Policy White Paper in which we declared that:  ‘The rise of China is the defining geopolitical shift of the late 20th and early 21st centuries.  It is the single most important global factor behind Australia’s strong economic performance over the last 26 years—a period which looks likely to see us overtake The Netherlands as holders of the world record for the longest ever period of unbroken economic growth.’  The White Paper celebrates Australia’s achievement of that record, and notes that China is ‘now a major geopolitical player with the capacity 
to influence virtually all of Australia’s international interests.’

ACBC’s submission also cautioned that ‘Australia should be wary of the rise of populism and protectionism,’ and that ‘populist short term politics always occurs at the expense of sustainable long term policy.’  It is good to see that one of the five main objectives laid out in the 2017 Foreign Policy White Paper is to ‘deliver more opportunities for our businesses globally and stand against protectionism.’

The White Paper also notes that while ‘the United States has been the dominant power in our region throughout Australia’s post-Second World War history,’ today ‘China is challenging America’s position.’  The White Paper acknowledges that ‘some change to institutions and patterns of global cooperation is inevitable, necessary and appropriate to respect the greater weight of countries such as China, Indonesia, India, Nigeria and Brazil.’

The White Paper suggests that ‘over time, bringing China and the United States together in a region wide free trade agreement would reduce economic tension and help maximise regional economic growth prospects.’

There is much to read and digest in the 2017 Foreign Policy White Paper.  You can access the full White Paper here.

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