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Factba.se: Australia DFAT Country Briefs - Denmark


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The Kingdom of Denmark comprises Denmark as well as the Faroe Islands and Greenland, which were granted self-government in 1948 and 1979, respectively. Denmark itself is the southern part of Scandinavia and covers an area of 43,000 sq km. It has a population of 5.5 million, of whom around 1.2 million live in the metropolitan area of Copenhagen.

Denmark is a member of the EU. On trade policy, Denmark is among the most liberal in the EU and is supportive of comprehensive agricultural reform. Denmark also supports stringent environmental regulation at the EU level. Denmark is a key actor on international climate policy and hosted the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen in December 2009.

Denmark is an active NATO member and regards NATO as its pre-eminent security organisation.

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The Kingdom of Denmark is a constitutional monarchy based on its 1953 Constitution. The reigning monarch, Queen Margrethe II, ascended to the throne in 1972. The heir to the throne, Crown Prince Frederik, is married to Australian-born Crown Princess Mary.

Legislative powers are vested in a unicameral parliament (the Folketing). Its 179 members, including two each from the Faroe Islands and Greenland, are elected for four-year terms on the basis of proportional representation. There are eight parties in the Parliament.

After nearly a decade in opposition, Denmark's centre left coalition won 89 seats in the 179-seat parliament in the country's general election held on 15 September 2011. Ms Helle Thorning-Schmidt became Denmark's first female Prime Minister. Thorning-Schmidt's Social Democrats leads a three-party coalition - the 'Red bloc' alliance - whose other members are the centre-left Social Liberals (Radikale Venstre) and the Socialist People's Party (Socialistisk Folkeparti). The coalition has the tacit support of the far-left Red-Green Alliance party, whose backing on key votes will give it 92 seats in the 179-member parliament.

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Denmark has experienced economic growth in 2010 and 2011 following a downturn in its economy in 2000 and 2008 as a result of the global financial and economic crisis. The economy is now highly open, with Danish exports and imports accounting for 50.7% and 45.4% of GDP respectively in 2010. The EU remains Denmark's most important trading zone, accounting for around two-thirds of exports and just under three-quarters of imports. Trade with other countries has increased in recent years, with China becoming a more important source of imports. The current-account surplus was US$17.1bn in 2010 (equivalent to 5.5% of GDP).

In September 2000, 53 per cent of Danish voters voted against adopting the Euro as the country's currency in a national referendum, despite strong political support in favour of joining from most of the major parties.

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Australia and Denmark share a strong bilateral relationship based on cooperation on many issues in international forums, a strong commitment to global security, and people-to-people links established over two centuries of migration. The Australian Embassy in Copenhagen re-opened in 2000. The Danish Embassy in Canberra, closed since 2002, re-opened in September 2007. Denmark retains consulates in most state capital cities of Australia.

The 8,000 or so Danes who migrated to Australia after World War II form the basis of the strong people-to-people links and over 50,000 Australians claim Danish ancestry (2006 census figures). Australia's profile in Denmark was boosted by the marriage in May 2004 of Australian-born Ms Mary Donaldson to Denmark's Crown Prince Frederik.

Educational services are one of Australia's most significant exports to Scandinavia. There are extensive bilateral education links between Australian and Danish tertiary institutions. A bilateral Working Holiday Maker Arrangement and a Social Security Agreement were signed in 2001. Denmark and Australia signed an Agreement on Avoidance of Double Taxation in 1981.

TRH Crown Prince Frederik and Crown Princess Mary officially visited Australia in March 2005 and November 2011 (accompanied by the Minister for Trade and Investment, Ms Pia Olsen Dyhr and a Danish business delegation). They visited Australia privately in November–December 2006 and August–September 2008. Other recent visits from Danish officials include: the Special Envoy for Afghanistan and Pakistan, Mr Anders Carsten Damsgaard (December 2009); Permanent Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, Mr Ulrik Federspiel (May 2008); Minister for Taxation, Mr Kristian Jensen (September 2006); and Minister for Culture, Mr Brian Mikkelsen (March 2005).

President of the Senate, the Hon John Hogg, led a parliamentary delegation to Denmark in April 2011. Former Prime Minister, the Hon Kevin Rudd MP, and then Minister for Climate Change, Senator the Hon Penny Wong, visited Denmark in December 2009 to attend the 15th Conference of Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. Other recent visits from Australian officials include: then-Deputy Leader of the Opposition, the Hon Jenny Macklin MP (April 2006); Tasmanian Minister for Tourism, the Arts and the Environment, Paula Wriedt MFA (April 2006); Australian Parliamentary Delegation led by the then Speaker, the Hon David Hawker (October 2005); the then Minister for the Environment and Heritage , Senator the Hon Ian Campbell (June 2005); the then Queensland Minister for Education and the Arts, the Hon Anna Bligh (May 2005).

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Total two-way merchandise trade between Australia and Denmark in 2010-11 was A$1.1 billion, which is heavily in Denmark's favour. Australia's merchandise exports to Denmark were valued at A$153 million in 2010-11 including orthopaedic appliances, alcoholic beverages, and beef. Merchandise imports from Denmark were valued at almost A$1 billion in 2010-11 including pork meat, medicaments (including veterinary), prams, toys, games & sporting goods and power generating machinery and parts.

Around 85 Danish companies have a presence in Australia including Vestas Wind Systems, one of the world's leading manufacturers of wind turbines. The Denmark-based global cleaning company ISS is, with its 22,000 employees, one of the biggest European employers in Australia. Australian company Macquarie has a 27 per cent stake in Copenhagen airport.

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The current changes in the economic landscape offers opportunities for trade and investment as business and industry are re-focusing efforts to address new realities.

Sectors offering new opportunities in Scandinavia include clean energy, financial services and performance textiles. Denmark has a high adoption rate for new technology in general and there are also opportunities for the export of unique telecommunications and e-government technology.

Sixty per cent of Scandinavia's biotech/pharmaceutical industry is located in the Oresund region (eastern Denmark and south-western Sweden). The sector offers Australian exporters opportunities in bioinformatics, nanotechnology, genomics, and in information and human resource management.

In the more traditional sectors wine remains a leading Australian export product to Denmark, and Denmark is one of Australia's most important wine markets. Austrade works closely with Wine Australia to promote brands to this market. There are emerging opportunities for complementary products such as gourmet food.

Scandinavia is one of the top performing student recruitment regions in Europe for Australia. In 2007, the Danish Government passed a new law introducing an international scholarship making it more financially viable for Danish students to study overseas. The law took effect on 1 July 2008. The international scholarship is available for international tertiary studies. There are also extensive bilateral education links between Australian and Danish tertiary institutions. An Austrade-Australia Education International (AEI) agreement is in place to support continued growth in this sector.

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Last Updated: November 2011

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