Australia and Japan cooperate closely on a wide range of economic diplomacy activities including infrastructure and climate change. Australia and Japan held the inaugural Ministerial Economic Dialogue in July 2018. The Dialogue offers a regular mechanism for high-level engagement on strategic economic and trade cooperation to complement high-level defence and security cooperation and annual leaders' meetings. The Dialogue supports the strong and growing trade and investment relationship between Australia and Japan.
The Australia-Japan economic relationship is underpinned by complementary strengths and needs. Australia is a safe, secure and reliable supplier of food, energy and mineral resources and a world-class centre for financial and other services. Japan became Australia's largest trading partner in the early 1970s – a position it maintained for 26 years. Japanese investment continues to play a significant role in the development of the Australian economy
Australian and Japanese businesses benefit from free trade agreements between the two countries. The Japan Australia Economic Partnership Agreement (JAEPA) was signed in Canberra on 8 July 2014. The agreement entered into force on 15 January 2015. JAEPA benefits both Australia and Japan. The agreement creates economic growth by increasing opportunities for investment and trade. It is bringing our economies and societies even closer, and will underpin a strong relationship for many years to come.
JAEPA benefits Japanese consumers, farmers and food producers. Consumers enjoy lower prices on Australian food imports, including Australian beef, dairy and horticulture products and gain a greater choice and wider access to high quality Australian products such as wine, cheese, ice-cream and seafood. Both Australia and Japan are key members negotiating high quality regional trade agreements such as the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), and the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP).
Japanese investment has been essential in the development of many of the export industries that have driven Australia's growth, including in large-scale projects to meet Japanese demand for resources such as coal and iron ore. Japanese investment has also begun to extend beyond the traditional areas of natural resources to sectors such as financial services, infrastructure, information and communications technology, property, food and agribusiness.