Australia

Capital:Canberra
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Australia's abundant and diverse natural resources attract high levels of foreign investment and include extensive reserves of coal, iron ore, copper, gold, natural gas, uranium, and renewable energy sources. A series of major investments, such as the US$40 billion Gorgon Liquid Natural Gas project, will significantly expand the resources sector. Australia also has a large services sector and is a significant exporter of natural resources, energy, and food. Key tenets of Australia's trade policy include support for open trade and the successful culmination of the Doha Round of multilateral trade negotiations, particularly for agriculture and services. The Australian economy grew for 17 consecutive years before the global financial crisis. Subsequently, the Rudd government introduced a fiscal stimulus package worth over US$50 billion to offset the effect of the slowing world economy, while the Reserve Bank of Australia cut interest rates to historic lows. These policies - and continued demand for commodities, especially from China - helped the Australian economy rebound after just one quarter of negative growth. The economy grew by 1.2% during 2009 - the best performance in the OECD - and by 3.3% in 2010. Unemployment, originally expected to reach 8-10%, peaked at 5.7% in late 2009 and fell to 5.1% in 2010. As a result of an improved economy, the budget deficit is expected to peak below 4.2% of GDP and the government could return to budget surpluses as early as 2015. Australia was one of the first advanced economies to raise interest rates, with seven rate hikes between October 2009 and November 2010. The GILLARD government is focused on raising Australia's economic productivity to ensure the sustainability of growth, and continues to manage the symbiotic, but sometimes tense, economic relationship with China. Australia is engaged in the Trans-Pacific Partnership talks and ongoing free trade agreement negotiations with China, Japan, and Korea.

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