Ten time zones separate Berlin and Canberra. The German and Australian capitals are over 16,000 kilometres apart as the crow flies. But the ties of friendship that bind the two countries across continents remain close. Australia is one of Germany’s most important partners in the Indo-Pacific region. It is a partnership based on shared values and interests as well as human connections – around one million Australians are estimated to have German roots. These ties of friendship have also grown up out of economic and scientific cooperation as well as study abroad and working holiday programmes. There are more than 600 cooperation arrangements between German and Australian universities.
Australia: A key partner in the Indo-Pacific region
Australia is an important ally for Germany in efforts to uphold a rules-based international order, democracy and human rights. This also makes it a key partner in the implementation of the German Government’s policy guidelines for the Indo-Pacific. The guidelines were published in September 2020, as Germany moved to increase its strategic focus on the region. This involves diversifying its relations and developing strategic partnerships there.
In terms of trade, Germany is Australia’s most important partner within the EU. There are plans to further increase their cooperation, primarily in the field of technology partnerships as well as on climate change mitigation and energy issues. Particularly significant in this regard is bilateral hydrogen cooperation. Germany also supports the swift conclusion of an EU-Australian free trade agreement.
A friendship with a long history
Australia and the Federal Republic of Germany established diplomatic relations on 28 January 1952. Relations between Australia and the German Democratic Republic followed twenty years later. But Germans had been among the first immigrants to Australia in the early nineteenth century, and the first consulate was opened by Hamburg in 1840. The sixtieth anniversary of diplomatic relations in 2012 was marked by the founding of a Strategic Partnership, which was then upgraded to an Enhanced Strategic Partnership last year. Regular high-level consultations take place within this framework on political, economic and scientific matters. In 2021, the Foreign and Defence Ministers met for the second Germany-Australia 2+2 political and security policy consultations.