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As with all countries, Australia's government alone has the legal authority to pass laws and set polices guiding both international trade and immigration. Trade is handled primarily by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, which represents Australia in international negotiations on trade agreements and in international trade organizations like the World Trade Organization (WTO). Australia, because of its geographic proximity to the members of the Association of Southeastern Asian Nations (ASEAN), pays very close attention to the commercial and political relationships throughout that region, and is a regular participant in the annual East Asia Summit sponsored by ASEAN.
In addition to the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, the Australian Trade Commission is also very active in facilitating agreements between Australian companies and foreign governments. The Commission helps companies gain entry into foreign markets and helps with the marketing of Australian goods in those markets.
Australian nongovernmental organizations involved in trade include the Fair Trade Association of Australia and New Zealand, which works to ensure that Australia's government and businesses do not unfairly exploit foreign labor and that Australian businesses conduct themselves properly when setting up manufacturing facilities in less-developed nations. Other NGOs active in the area of trade include the Australian Council of Social Service, Greenpeace, Australian Conservation Foundation, and Friends of the Earth. Obviously, these organizations focus on the human rights and environmental protection component of international trade agreements. Additionally, Australia's trade unions function as watchdogs to guard against trade practices that unduly disadvantage Australian workers while exploiting less expensive foreign labor. Many of these same NGOs also work on international migration issues to minimize instances of exploitation of foreign migrants.
Australian NGOs that support trade and work to advance business interests include Agribusiness Association of Australia, National Farmer's Federation Australia, Construction and Mining Equipment Association, and many more representing various industry sectors.
The government agency responsible for immigration matters is the Department of Immigration and Citizenship, which also deals with issues surrounding the migration of foreign workers, as well as refugees. In a region with millions of migrant workers seeking jobs in more affluent regions, Australia's government devotes considerable resources to this issue. In fact, the department recently established a new Migration Council of Australia, which will ostensibly function as a NGO but under governmental aegis.
NGOs active in this area, in addition to many of those mentioned above, include the Australian Catholic Migration and Refugee Office, the Refugee and Immigration Legal Center, Refugee Council of Australia, and the Migration Institute of Australia (not to be confused with the aforementioned Migration Council).
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