Political relations are excellent and are based on shared views on most topics. The role of France, present in Oceania through its three territorial communities (New Caledonia, French Polynesia, Wallis and Futuna), is perceived as a key aspect of stability, in particular through regular contacts between armed forces (assistance operations in the event of natural disasters under the trilateral FRANZ agreement, fisheries patrol, bilateral and regional military exercises).
Australian Foreign Affairs Minister Stephen SMITH went to Paris in October 2008 and on 24-25 April 2010 on the occasion of the ANZAC Day ceremonies at the Australian memorial at Villers-Bretonneux.
The memory of the First World War remains strong. On 30 January 2010, in the presence of Australia’s Minister for Veteran Affairs, Alan GRIFFIN, the burial of Australian and British soldiers killed in 1916 began at the military cemetery at Fromelles (Nord). The official inauguration of this cemetery was planned for 19 July 2010.
Mr. Duncan KERR represented Australia at the third France-Oceania Summit on 31 July 2009 in Nouméa. The visit to Australia in March 2010 of a major delegation of the New Caledonian government, led by the President of the New Caledonian government, Mr. Philippe GOMES, and the High Commissioner of the Republic, confirmed a desire to increase partnerships between Canberra and Nouméa.
Commercial exchanges between France and Australia in the first half of 2010
After reductions in 2009 of 25,7% and 30,2% respectively of our exports to Australia and our imports from this country, the commercial exchanges between our two countries picked up with an increase during the first six-month period of 2010. French exports to Australia jumped to 58,5% during the first six months of the year, compared to the first half of 2009, when our imports from Australia only increased by 2,8%. When compared, these two asymmetrical tendencies indicate that the recovery of the Australien economy was significantly more dynamic than that of France during the first six-month period of 2010.
France is the eighth largest foreign direct investor in Australia with a total investment of more than 30 billion AUD, 300 French branches or subsidiaries in Australia with more than 500 offices, employing over 75, 000 Australians with a turnover of about 20 billion AUD- are vectors of this dynamic relationship.
Some of these companies are leaders in their field of activities in Australia – The Accor group in hospitality, Sodexo in food services to private and government institutions, Suez and Veolia environment in the supply of drinking water, desalinisation plants and sewage treatment systems, Thales, Australia Aerospace and Safran in defence material, Alstom in the railway’s rolling stock and energy equipment, just to mention a few examples.
For more information: Foreign Trade Website
Cultural, scientific and technical cooperation
In terms of science, in 2003, France and Australia established a new system aimed at strengthening scientific and technological relations (FAST integrated action programme, cofinanced at 50% by Australia’s Research Ministry - 700 scientific cooperation projects are underway each year). The sector of natural resources and the environment (half of our cooperation) is one of the priorities of the system, which is based on the Forum for European-Australian Science and Technology Cooperation (FEAST) network.
There are nearly 200 cooperation agreements between French and Australian universities, enabling hundreds of students to take part in exchange programmes. These agreements cover all areas of study. Business, arts and humanities and human science studies are particularly popular. A few dual diplomas at the bachelor and post-graduate levels have also been created between French and Australian universities.
French remains one of the modern languages most studied in Australia, especially at the secondary and university levels. The Alliance française network in Australia has 31 sites. Australia has several educational institutions approved by the French National Education Ministry (including the Lycée Condorcet in Sydney).
Other types of cooperation
France is one of Australia’s leading cultural partners. Our cooperation is conducted in partnership and funded to a large extent by Australian operators. French artists have a regular presence at the festivals of Adelaide, Brisbane, Melbourne, Perth and Sydney. The French film festival, the 18th edition of which will take place in March 2010, attracts 80,000 spectators every year to different cities in Australia. Australian museums host major exhibitions, such as Picasso in Melbourne (2006), Egyptian Antiquities in 2007 and Monet and the Impressionists in Sydney in 2008. The presentation of 120 paintings from the Musée d’Orsay, held in the National Gallery in Canberra from December 2009 to April 2010 attracted nearly 500,000 visitors.
Updated on 29.06.10 (MAEE)