Australia and Turkey have a productive and steadily developing relationship, with substantial dialogue across a wide range of issues, frequent high-level visits and expanding bilateral trade and investment.
Formal bilateral relations between Australia and Turkey commenced with the signing of a bilateral agreement on assisted migration in 1967 and exchange of Ambassadors in 1968. A mutual desire to boost trade and investment ties and to strengthen cooperation on issues of international concern has led to the broadening of the relationship since the 1990s.
The relationship with Turkey has grown rapidly since 2005 when then-Prime Minister John Howard and his Turkish counterpart, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, exchanged visits. These were followed by many high-level visits in both directions. Over the past decade Australia and Turkey have also signed a considerable number of bilateral agreements. As well as an embassy in Ankara and a consulate-general in Istanbul, since 2006 Australia has had a consulate in Çanakkale (the province in which Gallipoli is located) to provide consular assistance to the growing number of Australians who visit the Anzac battle sites each year.
In 1967, Turkey and Australia signed a bilateral agreement on assisted migration. In contrast to the Turkish guest-worker schemes in Europe, Australia offered migration to whole families, as permanent migrants. The program resulted in an increase of the Turkey-born population in Australia from 1,544 at the 1961 Census to 11,589 in 1971. The 2011 Census showed that 66,919 Australian residents claimed Turkish ancestry, with 32,847 having been born in Turkey.
Sister city agreements between cities in the two countries offer another opportunity to help boost ties between the two peoples. Adana, for example, is twinned with Sydney, Eceabat with Oberon and Çorum with Moreland.
Both Australia and Turkey regard the 1915 Gallipoli landings as an event of particular significance in their modern histories. Every year a large number of Australian and Turkish citizens attend commemorative services at Gallipoli. Over 4,400 visitors attended the 98th Anniversary Commemorative Services in 2013.
An agreement on the residence and employment of Turkish citizens in Australia was signed in 1967. An Agreement on Economic Co-operation was signed in 1988. An Extradition Treaty entered into force in 2003. A Work and Holiday Visa Arrangement and a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on agricultural cooperation were signed in December 2005. A Defence Framework Agreement was signed in August 2006. In February 2007 Australia and Turkey signed an MOU on counter-terrorism cooperation and organised crime. In September 2008, Australia and Turkey signed an arrangement on cooperation in the fields of animal health and biosecurity. An Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement entered into force in June 2009. A Defence Material Cooperation Arrangement was signed in March 2010. A Double Taxation Agreement and an Air services Agreement were signed in April 2010.
Bilateral Economic and Trade Relationship
International business perceptions of Turkey have changed dramatically over the past few years, as global companies have come to see the country as a strategic growth market. Turkey is one of the biggest markets in the world, with a population of 76 million people, 40 percent of whom are under 22.
Trade in 2012
There was steady growth in Australian exports to Turkey from mid-decade until the onset of the global financial crisis, which saw a sharp decline in commodity exports (coal, aluminum). Turkey is Australia’s 36th largest merchandise trading partner, with two-way trade at $1.17 billion in 2012. Exports to Turkey were worth A$646 million, principal items being coal, live animals and gold. Imports were valued at A$523 million, with principal items including food items, goods and passenger vehicles, household equipment and lime, cement and construction materials.
Investment in each other’s country is relatively small, although the entry into force of an Investment Protection & Promotion Agreement in 2009 and signature of a Double Taxation Agreement in 2010 are aimed at further encouraging Australian investment. While Australian investment in Turkey was worth A$989 million in 2012, well ahead of Turkey’s investment in Australia (A$25 million).
A small number of Australian companies have invested in Turkey, mainly in the energy sector. Other areas of investment interest include infrastructure (brought about by government privatisation programs), mineral exploration, construction and agribusiness.
(Source : DFAT)