The Cook Islands is a self-governing country in free association with New Zealand. It comprises 15 islands with a total land area of 237 square kilometres spread over two million square kilometres of ocean.
While enjoying a high per capita GDP compared to other Pacific island countries, Cook Islands' economy faces challenges. These include limited natural resources, remoteness from major trade and industrial centres, and a small labour force. Despite these constraints, Cook Islands has developed a successful tourism industry with high priority to its continued development. Other government priorities include developing marine resources, including black pearl farming, and opening up seabed mining to harvest its large cobalt and manganese reserves.
Two-way trade between Australia and Cook Islands accounted for approximately AUD100m in 2018. Australia is the fourth principal export destination for Cook Islands and its second principal import source partner.
Aligned with Cook Islands' development priorities, Australia's bilateral development assistance has focused on upgrading waste management and sanitation facilities; supporting the education sector; and providing advisory support and training to empower and promote the rights of women and girls.