Diplomatic relations between Nepal and Australia were established on February 15, 1960. Both countries celebrated 60 years of diplomatic relations in 2020. Australia opened its residential Embassy in Kathmandu at the level of chargé d’Affaires in 1984 which was upgraded to the Ambassadorial level in 1986. Nepal established its residential Embassy in Canberra in March 2007 which was formally inaugurated in September 2007. In addition, Nepal also has Honorary Consulates General/Consulates in Melbourne, Sydney, Perth and Adelaide.
Nepal’s relationship with Australia predates the establishment of diplomatic links in 1960. Over the years, the Australian Government and private sector have contributed to the economic and social development of Nepal through assistance in the fields of health, education, hydroelectricity, sustainable management of forest, agriculture, strengthening governance and service delivery, civil aviation, and livestock management.
Nepal -Australia Parliamentary Friendship Group currently co-chaired by Senator Andrew Bragg (Liberal Party of Australia) and Mr. Peter Khalil MP (Australian Labour Party) formed in February 2020 is active and has been supporting Nepal’s interest in Australian Parliament. The Group was first formed in the Australian Parliament in 2009.
Exchange of visits
The exchanges of visits at various levels have helped significantly in consolidating the relations between Nepal and Australia. The Governor General of the Commonwealth of Australia, His Excellency General the Honourable David Hurley AC DCS (retd) had a private visit to Nepal in 2016.The Minister for Foreign Affairs of Nepal visited Australia in November 2016 and held meetings with his counterpart and Minister for International Development and the Pacific as well as with Members of Australian Parliament in Canberra. The Chief Justice of Nepal visited Australia to participate in 16th Conference of Chief Justice of Asia and Pacific” organized by The Law Association for Asia and Pacific from 6 to 9 November 2015. There have also been visits to Nepal from Australia in different levels.
Bilateral Consultation Mechanism
Nepal and Australia signed an MoU on establishing a Bilateral Consultation Mechanism between the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Nepal and the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade of Australia on 14 July 2017 in Canberra, Australia. Foreign Secretary Mr. Shanker Das Bairagi and H.E. Mr. Gary Quinlan, Acting Secretary, Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Australia signed the MoU on behalf of their respective Governments. The establishment of the Consultation Mechanism has opened the avenue to regularly hold meetings and exchanges on bilateral, regional and international issues of mutual importance between Nepal and Australia.
Aid and its Mechanism
Earlier, the Australian Government’s aid used to be mobilized by Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID). With effect from 1 November 2013, AusAID, an independent statutory agency responsible for managing Australia’s overseas aid programme, has been formally abolished and has been made a part of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT). The Prime Minister, Mr. Tony Abbott, MP, announced on 18 September 2013 that the AusAID would be integrated into the DFAT, enabling the aid and diplomatic arms of Australia’s international Policy agenda to be more closely aligned. Australia is supporting Nepal under the three pillars- health security, stability and economic recovery. Australia has shown solidarity in supporting Nepal during the difficult times of Earthquake and Covid 19 Pandemic.
Economic and Technical Cooperation
Australia’s assistance to Nepal is delivered through the Government of Nepal and in partnership with other donors and multilateral organizations. Priority areas for Australia’s development assistance to Nepal are in line with Nepal’s poverty reduction strategy and include basic education, health, livelihoods, strengthening and improving governance, peace building and human resource development. Australia has also equally contributed to human resource development through the provision of scholarships and helped to reduce the incidence of HIV through a Harm Reduction program for Injecting Drug Users (IDUs). Support has also been provided to peace building activities that address the root causes of conflict, issues of governance, poverty and discrimination.
Currently, Australia is assisting in enriching local governance, education and micro-enterprise development.
In the past Australia made significant contribution in the Community Forestry Programme in Nepal. Australia’s support in health, civil aviation, administration, community development, agriculture, heath, micro enterprise development, and peace building have remained important.
Nepal exports carpets. cotton dress, tea, coffee, pasta, felt products, noodles, shawls, articles of jewellery, essential oils, articles of leather, clothing, floor covering, handicrafts to Australia and imports refined petroleum products, dairy products, beverages, spirits and vegetables. There is growing volume of imports than exports with Australia which occurs in trade deficit to Nepal. Nepal’s export to Australia has remained in AUD11 million in 2021 whereas Nepal’s import from Australia has reached to AUD 186 million in 2021 resulting huge trade deficit. Nepal has benefited from Australia’s policy of preferential access to the LDC’s imports in Australian market. Increased production, maintaining quality and continuous supply of the products and services help in improving the situation. (Data source: TEPC)
Nepal continues to be a country of attraction for Australian tourist. In 2018, the Nepal Tourism Board registered 38,429 Australian tourist arrival record in Nepal. The COVID 19 Pandemic triggered unprecedented crisis in this sector and the number was declined to 2,477 in 2021. With the lifting of travel restrictions and normalcy in the situation, the number is expected to increase in the coming years. (Data source: NTB)
Foreign Direct Investment
The total number of industries approved for Foreign Direct Investment up to 2021 from Australian investors is 75 in different sectors amounting AUD 10 million which generates 2117 job opportunities in Nepal. (Data source: DOI)
The latest Australian census results -2021 show there are 122,515 Nepalese-born people living in Australia, a 124 per cent increase in five years, mostly students. Nepali students are the third largest sources of international students in Australia. The Nepali students have paid AUD 2.7 billion in 2020 as Tuition fees in Australia.