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France and Australia

Bilateral relations

The bilateral relationship between France and Australia, which dates back to World War I, is based on a community of values (defending multilateralism and law, the peaceful settlement of disputes). It has become closer in recent years: the first French State visit to Canberra in 2014, a State visit from the Governor-General of Australia, Australian military personnel marching on the Champs-Élysées in 2016, the President of the Republic’s visit to Sydney in May 2018, many reciprocal Ministerial visits, and the visit of the Australian Prime Minister as part of centenary celebrations in April 2018.

Our relations saw a major development with the announcement that Naval Group had been chosen to build 12 ocean submarines (a €34 billion contract). This programme led to two intergovernmental treaties and an Enhanced Strategic Partnership was signed by the Foreign Ministers from both countries in Melbourne in March 2017. This Partnership, which covers all areas of the relationship, is a roadmap which is beginning to bring about concrete actions, including as regards scientific cooperation and innovation via the launch of the AFiniti initiative.

In the Pacific, the presence of France and its three collectivities (New Caledonia, French Polynesia and Wallis and Futuna) which received Australia’s support for accession as full members of the Pacific Islands Forum (PIF - the main regional political organization) is today seen as an important part of regional stability.

The defence relationship is based on trust. Beyond the political and military dialogue and the significant and rapidly-developing military and armament cooperation, France and Australia discuss a wide variety of issues, especially developments in various theatres of operation (Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria). The close proximity of New Caledonia has also led to increased cooperation with the Armed Forces in New Caledonia (FANC).

Cultural, scientific and technical cooperation is vibrant, as shown by the increase in our scientific and academic exchanges. In the area of science, French researchers based in Australia are organized around the FRAN network (French Researchers in Australia Network) which has over 560 members. French is the third most studied language in Australia (250,000 students, five approved French schools; network of 30 Alliances françaises). Working holiday visas, for 15-30 year olds, allow over 20,000 young French people to work or live in Australia for a maximum of one year. France is one of Australia’s main cultural partners. Cooperation takes place in partnerships and is largely financed by Australian operators (historic success of the 27th French Film Festival, with almost 170,000 spectators in 2016).

Trade and direct investment are an essential part of our strong bilateral relationship. Australia accounts for our 7th largest trade surplus (€1.3 billion in 2017). Over 600 French companies are set up there (employing 70,000 people), including 35 from the CAC 40. Australian investments in France are constantly increasing, and still have great potential.

The French Embassy in Australia serves a French community of almost 100,000 people (only 25,203 of whom are registered on the consular list). Over 100,000 French visitors and tourists travel to Australia each year.

Updated: 1 October 2018