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European Australian Business : 2008
Close partners across the globe Relations between Europe and Australia have their roots in history, kinship and common values. It is no coincidence therefore that the busi- ness relationship between the two continents is flourishing. For more than twenty years, the European Union has been Australia’s largest commer- cial partner and the future continues to be bright. Europe and Australia share a common heritage and common values, with nearly 90% of all Australians claiming European ancestry. Both Australia and Europe are democratic societ- ies, with the same principles (rule of law, values). We have common goals in terms of peace, security and the improvement of the living conditions of our citizens and we share similar views in international fora, including a preference for ‘multilateralism’ as an indispensable means to manage globalisation. These common values and our strong economic integration form the bedrock of our already strong bilat- eral relationship. At a formal level, our relationship is governed by the 1997 Joint Declaration on Relations between the European Union and Australia and the 2002 Agenda for Co- operation. These two documents set the framework for action across a di- verse range of topics with security and strategic issues, trade, science and technology, education, transport, en- vironment, development co-operation, migration and asylum cooperation identified as high priorities. Following the ministerial consultations between Commissioner Ferrero-Waldner and Minister Downer in June 2007, we are currently reviewing our relationship with a view to agreeing a new partner- ship framework for 2008 - 2013. Importance of the EU Although often overlooked by com- mentators, the European Union is the largest economy in the world, account- ing for roughly 30% of global gross national product, or $A19.3 trillion in 2006. This is 10% larger than the next largest economy, the United States, with an estimated GDP of $A17.5 tril- lion. The EU is also the world’s largest trader, accounting for approximately 20% of global trade in goods and ser- vices. In goods, the EU is the world’s largest exporter and the world’s second largest importer. In services, it is both the largest exporter and the largest importer in the world. Unsurprisingly as the world’s largest trader, the EU is a highly competitive economy. The ‘Global Competitive- ness Rankings’ produced by the World Economic Forum found that six of the world’s 10 most competitive countries were EU Member States, with 25 out of 27 Member States featuring in the top 50. Meanwhile, a separate report, prepared by The Economist Intelli- gence Unit, has forecast that eight EU Members States would be in the top The EU Australia’s largest two way trading partner. foreword 7