2017 Foreign Policy White Paper: Opportunity, Security, Strength

Wednesday 29 November 2017 @ 12.42 p.m. | Legal Research | Trade & Commerce

The 2017 Foreign Policy White Paper was released on 23 November 2017, with a media release by Minister for Foreign Affairs Julie Bishop saying the White Paper was the “first comprehensive review of Australia's international engagement for 14 years.”  The White Paper, titled “Opportunity, Security, Strength”, sets out a framework which is meant to shape Australia’s foreign policy response over the next decade and beyond. 

In her ministerial foreword to the White Paper, Ms Bishop writes:

“Over the decade ahead, technological change, challenges to globalisation and the rules-based international order, continued economic dynamism and growth in Asia, shifts in strategic power regionally and globally, Islamist terrorism and climate change are among the significant trends shaping our world.

Some of these developments challenge Australian interests. Others bring opportunity. Australia should respond with confidence. We are a regional power with global interests. Our strong economy and institutions, innovative businesses, educated and skilled population and secure borders provide solid foundations for success.

As this White Paper makes clear, in a complex and uncertain environment we will have to work harder to maximise our international influence and secure our interests.

We will need to keep reforming our economy, boost our competitiveness and resilience, and invest in the other domestic foundations of our national strength.”


The White Paper sets out five “objectives of fundamental importance” for the Government, saying that Australia needs to:

  • promote an open, inclusive and prosperous Indo–Pacific region in which the rights of all states are respected
  • deliver more opportunities for our businesses globally and stand against protectionism
  • ensure Australians remain safe, secure and free in the face of threats such as terrorism 
  • promote and protect the international rules that support stability and prosperity and enable cooperation to tackle global challenges, and
  • step up support for a more resilient Pacific and Timor–Leste.

Meeting Objectives

As outlined in the Minister’s press release, in order to meet these objectives, the Government plans to:

  • Increase our efforts to ensure we remain a leading partner for Southeast Asia, including through an ASEAN-Australia Special Summit in 2018, an increase in our investments in regional maritime security capacity-building, and stronger bilateral ties (for example, our new strategic partnership with Vietnam);
  • Extend our 'step up' in the Pacific on economic and security issues, including by establishing with our Pacific partners a new Australian Pacific Security College to deliver security and law enforcement training at the leadership level;
  • Establish a new civilian deployment programme, Australia Assists, which will deploy over 100 humanitarian specialists each year to countries and communities affected by disasters;
  • Extend our network of FTAs to cover more partners, including to ensure that by 2020 we have FTAs with countries that account for 80 per cent of our trade (currently 64 per cent);
  • Implement a non-tariff measures strategy to better identify these barriers to trade for Australian businesses and respond to them;
  • Develop a stronger "nation brand" to market our commercial, educational and cultural credentials in a competitive global market.

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