Today we have signed a Joint Statement of Enhanced Strategic Partnership between Australia and France, reflecting a new era of cooperation between our two countries.
Our nations are bound by common values and a shared vision for a secure and more prosperous future. We cooperate as friends and partners on a range of interests, including the promotion of a stable Indo-Pacific region.
Historically, our countries' friendship was forged on the battlefields of World War I.
Security and defence cooperation has been the bedrock of our relationship for over a century. Our partnership on Australia's Future Submarine Program represents a new era in defence cooperation and has the potential to strengthen many other areas of our bilateral relationship.
The trade and investment relationship is substantial, with two-way trade valued at $8.3 billion in 2015. Almost all of France's largest companies are present in Australia – around 350 French companies operating in Australia, employing an estimated 80,000 people.
Our people-to-people links continue to grow, particularly in the areas of culture and education. Australia's 100,000-strong French community makes a vibrant contribution to our nation.
This joint statement signed today sets out a plan to further build on these important links by:
- encouraging trade, investment and business partnerships through regular business forums;
- increasing the tempo of high-level political meetings;
- supporting the partnership between our two countries to deliver Australia's Submarine Program;
- strengthening our partnership in the area of renewable energy;
- deepening our understanding of our respective innovation and technology transfer ecosystems;
- sharing experiences in crisis and consular management; and,
- encouraging the development of bilingual school programs and bi-national schools in both countries.
We look forward to continuing to strengthen this important bilateral relationship.
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