The Indo–Pacific democracies of Japan, Indonesia, India and the Republic of Korea are of first order importance to Australia, both as major bilateral partners in their own right and as countries that will influence the shape of the regional order.
We are pursuing new economic and security cooperation and people-to-people links to strengthen these relationships. Australia will also work within smaller groupings of these countries, reflecting our shared interests in a region based on the principles described in this chapter. For example, Australia remains strongly committed to our trilateral dialogues with the United States and Japan and, separately, with India and Japan. Australia is open to working with our Indo–Pacific partners in other plurilateral arrangements.
A ‘Special Strategic Partner’ of Australia, Japan is a democratic, trade-oriented nation with which we share values and interests, including through our alliances with the United States. Together we are working to achieve a stable region underpinned by open economies and the rule of law. As close partners, each country is invested in the success of the other.
Japan is the world’s fourth-largest economy and a major player in international and global economic forums. It remains a cornerstone of global value chains, the largest source of foreign direct investment in Southeast Asia and the catalyst for much of our region’s—and Australia's—economic development. We have an extensive and mature partnership in trade and investment, which both countries seek to deepen. Australia is committed to the tempo of annual prime ministerial visits and will strengthen economic dialogue with Japan to complement our FTA and already extensive economic contacts.
We expect Japan, which possesses advanced military forces and significant technological capabilities, steadily to pursue reforms to its defence and strategic policies over the decade. Australia supports these reforms and Japan’s efforts to improve its security capabilities and to play a more active role in the security of the region. In recent years our defence relationship has grown rapidly. Australia will continue to boost defence engagement with Japan, including in maritime security and in research and development.
Indonesia is a dynamic, democratic, diverse and growing G20 member with the world’s largest Muslim population. Indonesia’s success is of fundamental importance to Australia.
Indonesia has a growing middle class and, by some estimates, will be the world's fifth-largest economy by 2030. The size, weight and location of Indonesia at the intersection of the Indian and Pacific oceans makes it a leader in our region, including in ASEAN. We work closely with Indonesia in regional and international forums to support and protect a rules-based regional order, including in the EAS and ASEAN Defence Ministers’ Meeting Plus (ADMM Plus).
As close neighbours, with an extensive maritime border, we will be stronger as we continue to promote our interests together. The 2006 Lombok Treaty reaffirms our respect for each other’s territorial integrity.
We have already built a mature and mutually beneficial partnership, one that will be reinforced by growing economic ties, including the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement currently under negotiation, and more diverse links through business, study and travel. To this end, the Government has opened new posts in Makassar and Surabaya to better engage with Indonesia’s dynamic regions.
We support Indonesia’s economic growth and stability including through development cooperation. Australia works in partnership with Indonesian agencies to further the development of infrastructure, skills and institutions.
We will deepen cooperation on shared maritime interests including by working to counter illegal fishing, improve coordination and communications on search and rescue, and upgrade navy-to-navy links. Through our development program, we support Indonesia’s efforts to tackle inequality and maintain social stability, promote tolerance and pluralism, and counter violent extremism. Our long-standing defence, counter-terrorism, law enforcement and intelligence cooperation will continue to help both countries respond to shared security challenges.
India now sits in the front rank of Australia’s international partnerships. We are seeking much closer economic ties, as detailed in the next chapter. Beyond an increasingly important economic relationship, our security interests are congruent, particularly in relation to the stability and openness of the Indian Ocean. We have common interests in upholding international law, especially in relation to freedom of navigation and maritime security. We are both pluralist democracies. Our education links and Australia’s large and rapidly growing Indian diaspora add depth to these common interests.
India will remain the pre-eminent maritime power among Indian Ocean countries. Australia wants to work with India as both countries invest in enhanced naval capabilities. We already conduct joint naval exercises and we are deepening our broader defence cooperation and expanding our information sharing.
With India and others, we seek to strengthen regional architecture in the Indian Ocean—including the Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA)—and encourage more coordinated responses to developments affecting security in the Indian Ocean region.
We strongly encourage India’s strategic engagement with East Asia and the United States. We will work with India in the East Asia Summit (EAS) and build on the growing strategic collaboration between Australia, India and Japan.
Republic of Korea
We seek to build on our mature economic relationship with the Republic of Korea—Australia's fourth-largest trading partner—by enhancing cooperation on political, defence and security issues. We share values such as democracy and free speech and are both trade-oriented economies.
Australia and the Republic of Korea share an interest in working with the United States and Japan to protect regional security and respond to North Korea’s nuclear and ballistic missile programs. We strongly support the Republic of Korea’s efforts to strengthen its defences against North Korea.