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UK, Aust issue joint progress plan on trade, business ideas

21 April, 2008

Prime Ministers Gordon Brown and Kevin Rudd met in London recently at an important time in UK-Australia relations.

The two Prime Ministers agreed to strengthen and transform the relationship between the two countries into a dynamic contemporary partnership.  The relationship already reflects common values, a shared history and a closely aligned strategic outlook. 

Trade and investment between the two countries are strong and people-to-people links extensive.  But more can be done together.  The Prime Ministers noted that both countries faced comparable challenges. They agreed that both continue to have much to learn from each other and much on which to cooperate bilaterally and in international forums.

They emphasised their common commitment to sustainable global development.  They agreed to work together to forge an effective international system able to develop global answers to 21st century global problems.  They agreed to focus on a number of key inter-related areas to achieve this:

  • climate change
  • international development
  • trade
  • reform of international institutions;

The Prime Ministers noted that climate change represented the greatest moral and economic challenge globally for the future and stressed that it was imperative that early action be taken by all countries to respond to this challenge.

They agreed that tackling climate change should be a central element of the enhanced partnership between the two countries, using their complementary regional and global relationships.

The Prime Ministers recognised that climate change impacts will aggravate existing strains and create new tensions within and between countries as natural resources become increasingly scarce and unpredictable. The Prime Ministers noted the UK's recently published National Security Strategy and the recent report to the Spring European Council by High Representative Solana. They agreed to continue a dialogue on this issue, and for the two governments to undertake a joint analysis of the security impacts of climate change.

The Prime Ministers also recognised the economic opportunities available from taking early action to tackle climate change.  Building a global low carbon economy will provide new jobs and industries and become a major driver for economic growth and development. 

Recognising the urgency of building an effective global response, the Prime Ministers agreed that the UK and Australia will work closely together to secure an ambitious, equitable and effective post-2012 international climate change agreement based on the Bali Road Map.

The two countries will also collaborate in specific areas aimed at building a global low carbon economy and effective adaptation to climate change: 

  • Recognising that emissions trading provides a price signal that will drive investment in low emission solutions, the Prime Ministers agreed to share information and expertise on emissions trading systems. Prime Minister Rudd also announced that Australia had agreed to join the International Carbon Action Partnership, joining 24 other Governments, including the UK, to share experiences and knowledge on emissions trading 
  • The Prime Ministers agreed to foster collaboration on clean energy technology research through their respective research institutions. They will also identify areas to share experience on energy efficiency, including product standards and achieving behavioural change to reduce energy use. This will complement the collaboration with other countries under way through the Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Partnership (REEEP).
  • Deployment of renewable energy and carbon capture and storage (CCS) technologies will assist both the UK and Australia to move to a secure and low-carbon energy future. The two countries will prioritise collaboration on CCS technologies (including accounting legal and regulatory frameworks; capacity building; mechanisms for financing CCS; and the development of monitoring and verification systems) and will cooperate on CCS capacity building activities in countries that are significant users of fossil fuels.  
  • Climate change scientists from the UK’s Met Office Hadley Centre will work with their Australian counterparts from the Australian Bureau of Meteorology and CSIRO to develop a version of the Met Office Unified Model suited to modelling regional climate change impacts in the southern hemisphere. This will provide the basis for analysis of a range of scenarios for the expected Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Fifth Assessment.
  • The Prime Ministers recognised the need for rapidly deployed funds and scaling up of finance mechanisms to assist developing countries to build low carbon and climate resilient economies.  The UK and Australia agreed to work together to strengthen the Clean Energy Investment Frameworks of the multilateral development banks, in support of the UNFCCC process and in the establishment of new funds to be administered by the World Bank - with an initial priority given to the Strategic Climate Fund and those that focus on climate resilience and reducing emissions from deforestation. The two countries look forward to further dialogue on the governance and arrangements for the new funds with other donors and recipients. These funds will be an important step in better integration of environment protection and climate change in the World Bank’s development strategy and programmes. 

Both Prime Ministers stated that the international community needed to do much more to help reduce global poverty.  They recognised that efforts to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) agreed by the international community in 2000 risk being undermined by other challenges and recommitted both their governments to work together to help achieve the MDGs by 2015.  The development agencies of both countries will cooperate closely together to achieve this, including through greater involvement with partners drawn from outside government.

Both Prime Ministers indicated they would attend the Millennium Development Goals Summit to review progress with the MDG strategy at the United Nations in September this year.  Prime Minister Rudd congratulated Prime Minister Brown for his leadership on pressing for renewed efforts by the international community to achieve the MDGs.  Prime Minister Brown noted the commitment by Australia through the Port Moresby Declaration of March 2008 and its new Pacific Partnerships for Development program to assist the development needs of the states of the South Pacific.  He committed the UK to work with Australia in coordinating the UK’s own development assistance in the South Pacific with these Partnerships.  Many of these states have fallen badly behind in their efforts to achieve progress with their MDGs.

As part of this commitment, Prime Minister Rudd announced that Australia has joined the MDG Call to Action.  The Call to Action aims to galvanise widespread support, momentum and concrete action for the MDGs in what UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon has described as “the year of the bottom billion”.

Prime Minister Rudd commended the UK-French initiative announced on 27 March to support 8 million children in school in Africa by the time of 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa. Australia will strengthen its development assistance activities to focus on enabling children not in school in East Asia and the Pacific to access a primary education.

Prime Minister Rudd announced that Australia had joined the International Health Partnership, to help build sustainable health systems in developing countries and accelerate progress to meet the health MDGs.

Australia and the UK also agreed to work to deliver a step change in reducing maternal deaths. Every minute a woman dies in pregnancy or childbirth. As signatories to the International Health Partnership, the UK and Australia have today committed to ensure that their work to strengthen health systems will focus on achieving demonstrable reductions in maternal mortality. Halfway to 2015, the world still lacks the 4 million health workers it needs to provide effective health services to mothers and children.  

The UK and Australia will help tackle this crisis through exploring how innovative mechanisms can help finance health systems. And since mothers and children are also the most vulnerable to malaria, the two Prime Ministers today committed to work with the international donor community to provide mosquito bed nets to every mother and child in malaria-affected areas by 2010.  In furthering work on maternal health, the two Governments will promote links between UK and Australian health institutions.

The Prime Ministers emphasised the essentiality of open global trade.  They called for a pro-development outcome to the Doha Development Agenda (DDA) trade round.  They stressed that a successful Doha outcome would be a strong boost for a troubled world economy.  Both agreed that the Doha round must achieve a breakthrough over the next two months if it is to be completed this year. 

Both Prime Ministers agreed to press for an early WTO ministerial meeting to agree the shape of the deal in agriculture, NAMA and services. They called on all World Trade Organisation members to engage constructively in the process and to show flexibility to reach a deal in 2008. Notwithstanding the difficulties, both Prime Ministers indicated their confidence that the gap between negotiating positions was not so great that it cannot be bridged if WTO members show the political will needed to reach a deal.

The Prime Ministers discussed recent global financial market turbulence and agreed on the importance of enhanced disclosure and transparency in global financial markets. More broadly they agreed on the need for the IMF and Financial Stability Forum (FSF) to work together more closely to act as an early warning system for the global economy.

Both Prime Ministers agreed that international institutions must reflect the historic shift of economic power globally to the Asia Pacific and the need to accommodate the emergence of new big players in the global economy through reform of bodies like the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and the regional development banks.  This also includes reform to the United Nations Security Council, which remains the international community’s peak decision-making body on international peace and security.  They agreed to work closely together in developing reform agendas in these bodies. 

Prime Minister Brown expressed his support for Australia’s candidature for election to the United Nations Security Council in 2012 for the term 2013-14.

Prime Minister Brown and Prime Minister Rudd also discussed an extensive range of other international issues which included the following:

The Prime Ministers noted that Zimbabwe may be at an historic moment of change. They emphasised that the democratic choice of the people of Zimbabwe expressed through the recent elections must be respected.  Both indicated that it was critical that any second round in the presidential election – if one is to be held – be conducted in a free and fair manner without intimidation and vote rigging and within the timeframe of three weeks prescribed under Zimbabwean law.  They emphasised that it was vital that the international community, including Zimbabwe’s neighbours, continue to do everything possible to ensure that the democratic will of the Zimbabwean people is respected. 

The Prime Ministers expressed their continuing concern over the situation in Tibet and other affected areas.  Both expressed their opposition to violence by any party and called for restraint on all sides, noting that it would be tragedy for all parties if the situation were to deteriorate further.  Both Prime Ministers encouraged China to re-open dialogue with the Dalai Lama or his representatives at an early date.

The Prime Ministers underlined their shared commitment to work for political change and respect for human rights in Burma. They agreed that the regime’s draft constitution and referendum process were deeply flawed.  In the continued absence of progress the UK and Australia would seek to further increase pressure on the regime.

The Prime Ministers discussed achievements and the ongoing challenges in Afghanistan with other leaders at last week’s NATO Summit in Bucharest. They welcomed the strong commitment expressed at the Summit to build a stable, secure and democratic state in Afghanistan free from the threat of terrorism.  They stressed that it was critical that the new military and political strategy agreed at the Summit be effectively implemented across the whole of the country and that progress in achieving its objectives be assessed at regular intervals.

The Prime Ministers emphasised that terrorism remains a direct threat to the international community. They reaffirmed the priority they give to cooperation between the UK and Australia in countering terrorism globally.  The UK reconfirmed its support for the Jakarta Centre for Law Enforcement (JCLEC) and agreed to explore further avenues of practical CT co-operation, including in sharing expertise and experience in the field of counter-radicalisation.

Both Prime Ministers indicated their intention to work together on finding more effective ways to strengthen the capacity of international institutions to contribute to stabilising conflict situations and to rebuilding societies affected by conflict.  Both countries have experience of civilian/military deployments in conflict zones and agreed to share the lessons learned and best practice to improve future deployments.  Prime Minister Rudd noted that Australia is establishing a Centre for Civil Military Cooperation to build expertise in this difficult task. 

Both Prime Ministers also undertook to increase their support for conflict prevention activities, in particular through the United Nations.  Prime Minister Rudd discussed this with the UN Secretary-General in New York on 29 March and announced Australian funding to assist the UN in its conflict prevention and mediation efforts.

The UK and Australia share the same strategic objectives in combating proliferation and agreed to continue to work together to combat the threat of weapons proliferation including through the IAEA and other international organisations, treaties and export-control regimes.

Both Prime Ministers expressed their serious concerns about the proliferation threat from Iran. They emphasised the need for North Korea to meet its commitments on denuclearisation agreed through the Six Party process.

The two Prime Ministers recommitted both countries to continue to work very closely on responding to these and a range of other significant challenges facing the international community.

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