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Both countries, from the base of a strong bilateral relationship, also rely on their alliance relationships with the United States to maintain peace and stability in the Asia Pacific.Both countries are grappling for a broader framework within which to manage their relationships in Asia.
Today the Japanese economy is poised to escape two decades of low growth thanks to the economic policy package known as Abenomics, but the relationship with China is in disarray.
China is the most important economic partner for both Australia and Japan.
The EPA will not have the transformative effect on the economic relationship of the 1957 Agreement on Commerce (which Abe’s grandfather Kishi signed in Canberra in 1957) or the 1976 Basic Treaty of Friendship and Co-operation.
The former helped bring Japan into the global trading system with equal treatment just over a decade after the war, while the latter boosted Japanese investment and movement of people between the two countries.
The long diplomatic relationship between Japan and Australia began under Japan's Tokugawa government in 1854.
After the countries' military confrontation during World War II, a strong trade relationship bloomed.Australia supplies over 63 per cent of Japanese coal imports and 62 per cent of iron ore.Outside of crude oil, Australia is the largest supplier of energy fuels to Japan, with Qatar recently catching up to Australia in the supply of LNG.This is the constructive diplomacy on which the Australia–Japan partnership now needs to be brought to bear.It would involve a more strategic partnership that promotes deeper regional cooperation, similar to the time that Japan and Australia led the creation of APEC in the 1980s.The TPP does not include China and RCEP does not include the United States, so Australia and Japan have a critical role to play in ensuring that these agreements do not divide the region but are instead complementary and bring China and the United States into a closer and more comprehensive trans-regional arrangement in the longer term.The deepening of regional economic interdependence will help countries manage their other differences.The closeness and familiarity between the two countries has deepened over the years, built on their large scale and broad-ranging economic relationship.This is a remarkable achievement given where the two countries came from as adversaries in World War Two.Australia’s biggest growth potential lies in exporting services and high value-add products to China and throughout the region.China is embedded in the global trading system and has shown it is keen to play a positive role in broader regional economic cooperation.