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In the recent years, Australia has become very active as a global actor and the geographical position of the country has gained more importance because of the paradigm shift in the geopolitical structure to Asia and Indo-Pacific regions. (Medcalf, R. 2012) This article will examine the relations between Australia and the United States of America as well the future prospect of Australia to enter into the Asian market and build up relations with countries in Asia. All of this started with a statement of Paul Keating that Australia should cut the tag with the USA and build an independent foreign policy with the countries in Asia. The advantages of maintaining relations with USA and the opportunities in the Asian market are also discussed as the article moves forward. The COVID-19 situation is also to be kept in mind when Australia is thinking of entering into the most diverse continent. In this regard, some light has also been thrown to the coronavirus aspect of the relations.
The probability of conflicts in the Indo-pacific region has put Australia at a strategic position or a corner of the globe. (Thomas, J,. Cooper, Z and Rehman, I. 2013) Australia has been a traditional ally of United States of America which became more grounded under the regime of Barack Obama. This can be seen by the decision of former Prime Minister of Australia, Tony Abbott in the month of October, 2014 when he sent eight fighter jets, two hundred special commandos and four hundred troops to the UAE. This decision of the former Prime Minister of Australia was in view of minimizing the terrorist activities and advancement of militants of Islamic States of Iraq (ISIS). (News. 2014) According to Hillary Clinton (Former Secretary of State) and Rudd (Former Foreign Minister), Australia and USA have a close relationship and the importance of sharing common values cannot be overestimated by anyone. (Press Conference. 2011) When the alliance between the two nations is so strong, powerful and valuable, why has there arisen a need for Australia to ‘cut the tag’ with USA and focus on Asia? The answer to this is that Asia is the future and building an independent foreign policy with countries is Asia will provide growth to Australia in future without concerning USA in any way. (Keating, P. 2016)
Under the president ship of Mr. Donald Trump, the U.S. Australia relationship started on a troublesome note, which depicted his first call with Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull as one of the worst call. (Miller, G. 2017) The agreements between the two countries were stressed by contradictions over an agreement related to refugee settlement which was entered into under Obama's Administration. According to the statements of President Trump, USA allies have to pay more under his regime for getting support from USA. If the expected payment is not made, USA will withdraw from the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) economic agreement which would pose a serious threat to Australian trade policy.
The arrangement between the two countries on 75th commemoration of the Battle of Coral Sea was seen as an amicable settlement between the two countries which brought back the relationship between the two on track from a rough beginning. It was during this meeting only that the US agreed to honor the refugee settlement agreement entered into in Obama's regime. (Williams, J. 2017) In regards to this, approximately 50 refugees were sent to US from Australian detention centers in Nauru and Papua New Guinea. But again according to Trump, this was the worst deal ever made. (Mark, M. 2017) All of these incidents led the people in Australia to question commitments between the two countries and the obligations the United States of America has on Australia. (Bowen, J. 2017)
The United States of America and Australia share a very close relationship in relation to intelligence through Five Eyes intelligence network, which additionally incorporates Canada, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom. Australia has always looked up to the United States as a strategic and important partner for maintaining stability and cooperation in the region. The Free Trade Agreement between the two countries was signed in the year 2005. Their relationship is grounded on the base of traditional friendship and similar qualities, interests and security agreements which have with departure of time become robust. Both the countries have undertaken large scale military and naval exercises such as Talisman Saber and RIMPAC with a view to expand military and defense relationship. The quantities of US marines have also been increased through the Northern Territory of the country while Canberra and Washington have investigated extended air and maritime participation. Recently, both the countries have also built strong their relations in respect of information sharing and databases relating to laws concerning cyberspace.
Australia is situated in such a place at the crossing point of the Pacific and Indian Oceans that its geology fits well with Free and Open Indo-Pacific strategy which happens to a venture or a new strategy formed under Trump's regime. Australia is also working tirelessly with USA to combat the danger of Islamist militancy. Australia's objective of attaining significant level of interoperability with military powers of the United States has been met by the Australia-United States Defense Trade Cooperation Treaty. While the White Paper in 2016 evaluated that there would be no clash between United States and China, as it recognized China sea both East China sea as well as South China Sea and also the airspace over these seas are those territories which would grind in future.
The advantages of building and maintaining relations with the countries in Asia will provide economic growth to Australia. Once big companies of Australia build strong relationship with the Asian counterparts, it will become easy for Small and Medium Enterprises to enter the global market. Due to the paradigm shift in the geopolitical framework in Asia, Australia can gain pace to explore both bilateral and multilateral trade agreements and security relationships. (Tow, W. and Taylor, B. 2012) Strategic Analysts in the past have observed that countries in Asia such as India, Australia and others are entering into security co-operation with one another leaving behind the traditional concepts of securing their nations. Such cooperation among the middle power countries can build strength and flexibility against the notion of China and US relations and fortify the multipolar nature of the rising Indo-Pacific request while empowering continuous U.S. commitment without unduly inciting China. (Medcalf, R,. and Mohan, R. 2014) Nexus between trade and commerce, energy and power are reshaping impression of the strategic topography of the countries in Asia. Due to this, the American and Australian originations have come together for developing strategic environment. In the year 2013, Australian Defense White Paper took an alternate view from the analysis of various economists and observed that Australia's topography is interesting and will reap out benefits if strategic planning is done in collaboration with the Indo-Pacific countries. (Medcalf, R. 2014) The United States' rebalance to Asia methodology brought the Indian Ocean into vital conversations that in the past would have been all the more centered on strategic changes in Northeast Asia and less significantly Southeast Asia. As a nation, the identity of Australia is entwined with a major debate over how it can build relations in Asia and with Asian Countries. Former PM, Howard moved toward the discussion by mentioning that Australia is under no obligation to choose between its history of relation in the West, and its topography, according to which it is situated at the corner the Asia-Pacific.
These discussions are genuine over identity of the country have become important to Australians. Despite the large continent, it is unable to build strong relationship with Asia when its population is identical to some countries situated in Asia including Indonesia having a population of around 240 million, China around 1.3 billion, and India around 1.2 billion. People in Asia are frightened because of Australia's disengagement from its key social and cultural allies and partners in the West and that is why they see Australia's engagement with Asian countries as an opportunity. This has recently given path to expanding enthusiasm in Asia as it is seen as a source of success and not as a potential threat. Facilitating immigration facilities in the country is likewise changing the essence of Australia. The ever increasing trade designs is also helping Australia to become a closer ally to Asian countries even when it is not completely understandable what this implies for its identity.
Some analysts are of the view that Australia and Indonesia must enter into bilateral and multilateral cooperation agreements as strategic emphasis would be given to Malacca, Sunda, and Lombok Straits due to the increase in naval forces in the Asia Pacific region. (Supriyanto, R.A. 2013) Mr. Joko Widodo, the President of Indonesia has time and again underscored the significance of building Indonesia's into a maritime nation. (Harding, B. 2014) By this reason, Australia gains an opportunity to connect with Indonesia. But the policy of Australia relating to return of illegal immigrants can again raise tensions in this bilateral or multilateral cooperation. Both these countries have closely worked to minimize terrorist activities and potential threats in Indonesia. According to the reports, around 200 citizens of Indonesia have joined Islamic States of Syria and Iraq. (Sheridan, G. 2014) On the other hand there are around 50-500 citizens of Indonesia who have fought against ISIS. (Alford, P. 2014) Due to terrorists attack on the Australian Embassy in 2004 in Jakarta and attacks on Australians in Bali in the year 2002 and 2005, Australia has specific concerns with terrorism in Indonesia.
The political leadership in Australia has been able to ignore the ever increasing economic relationship with China, which has proved to be its biggest trade accomplice since 2009, and the incompatibility of its strategic relationship with the United States. (Australian Government. 2013) Just like India, Australia also declined to formally sign the One Belt, One Road venture advanced by China. (Roggeveen, S. 2017) Former PM of Australia, Keating came up with the policy to "cut the tag" and seek an autonomous foreign policy. (Koziol, M. 2016) Both China and Australia have gained immense benefits from the strong trade relations between them. Trade exchanges with China have led to immense contribution to Australia's success in the economic field in late years. People living in Australia have been a great support to lead the country to build strong economic relationship with China. According to White, it would be a very big challenge for Australia to maintain relationship with both China and the United States of America regardless of Trump's regime who White looks as dispensable in making decisions expeditiously. (White, H. 2017)
A Free Trade Agreement (FTA) was officially signed by both the countries in June 2015. Some analysts were of the view that this agreement would increase exports of Australian agricultural products and other services to China while some others condemned the FTA, saying that it would bring more Chinese products and investment in Australia which would have an impact on Australia's economic interest and will increase unemployment rates in the country. A few analysts communicated worry that Australia's dependence on China will support China's strategic influence. (Hurst, D. 2015)
Australia and India have never in the past shared extensive relations despite various arrangements to which they both are a party. (Australian Senate. 1990) Bilateral Agreements between the two countries also received criticisms when in the year 2009 and 2010, Indian students were attacked in Australia by some racists. (CNN World. 2014) However, in the recent years, relations have been built up between both the nations. This started in 2014 when former PM Mr. Abbott visited India and opened a door for bilateral relations between both the nations. (Pillalamarri, A. 2014) Today the relations between the two countries have expanded. In 2017, when Turnbull came to India, both the Prime Ministers entered into an agreement to make peace in the Indo-Pacific region on the basis of mutual cooperation. Both the countries have strategic and economic opportunities if they start working together. Maritime security takes the toll at this point of time when China is implementing its project of One Belt, One Road. Along with this, safe passage to both the countries and a safe medium of communication is of utmost importance. (Australian Government. 2017)
Australia and India additionally cooperate with Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA). IORA is headquartered in Mauritius. In today’s time, India has become of the largest export market for Australia and it has acquired tenth position in terms of trade. To promote trade relations between the two nations, both these nations are looking forward to enter into a Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement. According to the Australian Prime Minister Turnbull, Australia would commission an autonomous India Economic Strategy. The methodology is proposed to fortify existing financial cooperation and search for new ways for Australia and India to work together. (Australian Government. 2014)
Coronavirus has placed an enormous stress on the administration of the country and on the government to help those in need in this draconian situation. The immigration sectors have been strained due to the COVID situation and racism against Asian people have arisen in the past few months. China and Australia no more share a handsome and unique relationship due to this problem. In some Asia-Pacific nations, the connection among society and the state is prompting various reactions to government measures against those who belong to China. Diverse international targets are likewise influencing how various countries are reacting. With every one of these factors, even idealistic situations could see numerous Asia-Pacific nations battling with the social, financial, and political aftermath of COVID-19 for a long time to come. These wellbeing and monetary effects are a reason for worry in their own right. They additionally have suggestions for Australia in both how it deals with the emergency, and how it remakes the economy once the infection is contained. It also seeks to explain the changes or reforms made by the Australian Government in the current business laws of the country for welfare of the affected business enterprises. As a result of COVID-19, cash flow has consistently decreased to a sharp 66 per cent. Operating expenses too saw a decline of 22 percent. As of August 2020, 70 percent businesses in Australia were operating under modified conditions. Business related to support services and administrative services saw a decline in the number of employees and staff members to the tune of 22 percent. This has led to good relationship between Australia and USA.
This move towards expanding dependence by middle power countries in Asia on one another could expand on and supplement these ties or bonds with the United States. This opinion is likewise reflected in the regional race of weapons. (Wall, R. 2016) Notwithstanding Australia's relations and agreements with Anglo sphere nations, (Kenny, M,. & Pearce, N. 2015) masses in Australia strongly believe that 21st Century is the Asian Century. Now is the time when Australia has an opportunity to invest in Asian countries and form independent foreign policies with Southeast Asian Countries. Today Indo-Pacific region has become the center of gravity and it is clearly visible to Australia. The new point of view for Australia in this Asian Century is the "prospect of closeness" and the open door that this presents. (Australian Government. 2012)
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