(As prepared for delivery, April 29, 2016)
It is an honor and a privilege to be back at the American Chamber of Commerce!
One of the highlights of my time here as Ambassador has been our Embassy’s close, collaborative relationship with AmCham.
Not only does AmCham play a pivotal role in the U.S.-Australia relationship, its members – all of YOU – are important to the U.S. relationship with the entire Asia-Pacific region.
What we once referred to a rebalance in U.S. policy toward the Asia-Pacific has become the new normal. The United States has a rich, deep, and rewarding relationship with the most politically and economically dynamic region on the planet.
Our relationship with this region is about leadership. And, that is what I want to focus on today – the leadership the U.S. government is providing, and the leadership you as a business community are providing, in Australia and around the Asia-Pacific region.
Our joint leadership employs the instruments of American power – determined diplomacy, ready military, economic might, and American innovation, science, education, and culture.
Our leadership is constantly evolving; especially in an election year. But, the reality is that America is a safe harbor and trusted ally in a turbulent world.
Never was this more obvious than during the successful January visit of Prime Minister Turnbull to Washington, D.C. He and President Obama spoke frankly and substantively for two hours in the Oval Office, and their discussions covered the broad scope of shared U.S.-Australia interests. They focused on our Force Posture Initiatives, the Trans-Pacific Partnership, and our cooperation on counterterrorism and counter extremism – both at home and abroad.
The President and Prime Minister also discussed the importance of U.S.-Australia innovation partnerships and joint investments in science and technology. Our leaders want dynamic knowledge-based economies, and they made clear that robust links between academia and the private sector will help us achieve this goal.
Following that visit, Australia has hosted an impressive array of American visitors, including: numerous three- and four-star generals, the director of the FBI, an official from NASA, a representative from the Smithsonian, and leaders from other influential and prominent American institutions. In the first four months of 2016 alone, nine congressional delegations visited Australia for ministerial-level talks on issues ranging from defense to trade to education.
Our cooperation knows no bounds and is a model for other strategic relationships in the Asia-Pacific. These strong bilateral ties underpin the rules-based order that has and will continue to promote stability and prosperity in our region.
Much of U.S. policy in the Asia-Pacific has followed a course set by the business community. Working together, our governments and our businesspeople have ushered in the 21st century economy. Its hallmarks are increased investment, integration, and innovation.
All of you represent companies that contribute to the one trillion U.S. dollar economic relationship between the United States and Australia. One trillion dollars and growing!
Thanks to you, the United States is the largest foreign investor in Australia. U.S. direct investment in Australia stands at $180 billion and indirect investment totals more than $600 billion. That is phenomenal!
More and more U.S. companies are doing business here. It is exciting to see relatively new companies such as Cisco, Facebook, Google, Hewlett-Packard, Intel, Square, Tesla, Twitter, and Uber thriving in Australia. They join the ranks of firms that have been in Australia for a century or more –firms like Boeing, Exxon, and General Electric that continue to contribute more than ever to Australia’s most important industries.
American companies are working across sectors and across the country to grow, prosper, and innovate in partnership with Australian businesses and communities. As proof, I offer Boeing, which has recently announced it will renew its nearly 30-year joint research program with CSIRO. This multi-million dollar partnership has produced breakthroughs in aviation technology, aerospace, and advanced materials.
I can also offer Chevron, which is helping put Australia on track to become the world’s number one exporter of liquefied natural gas by 2020, while at the same time reducing carbon emissions and protecting the environment on Barrow Island.
In total, U.S. companies are investing $100 billion U.S. dollars in Australia’s LNG sector. This investment in LNG is equal, in terms of cost and importance, to what the United States put into the Apollo space program in the latter half of the twentieth century.
Chevron’s investment at Gorgon and Wheatstone, $70 billion U.S. dollars in total, is the largest foreign investment in Australia. Conoco-Philips leads a consortium that has invested in LNG facilities on Curtis Island in Queensland, which will account for roughly 8 percent of global LNG production. And, a joint venture between Exxon Mobil Australia and BHP Biliton will result in a new $400 million U.S. dollar pipeline to complement Exxon’s $250 million U.S. dollar project to drill for natural gas and oil in the Bass Strait.
The strength and diversity of our economic relationship is even more apparent when we look at the Australian companies that are undertaking new ventures in the United States. Atlassian’s five billion U.S. dollar IPO rocked the NASDAQ in December. Marand is building tailfins for the Joint Strike Fighter in Fort Worth, Texas. Boundary Bend olive oil has set up shop in California. Incitec Pivot and BHP Billiton have invested millions in U.S. facilities.
In February and March, the Australian government sponsored Australia United States Business Week events across the United States, and in June, President Obama will host the SelectUSA Summit in Washington, D.C. Such forums underscore the strength of U.S.-Australia trade and investment. And, I’m grateful to AmCham for your support and promotion of SelectUSA.
More than a decade after we signed our free trade agreement, our bilateral trade has experienced tremendous growth. The United States is now the number one international destination for Australian beef and wine, and is Australia’s leading source of aircraft and farm machinery. The landmark Trans-Pacific Partnership will further open markets and promote prosperity.
As you know, the TPP was signed in February in New Zealand. Our goal is ratification of the TPP by the end of year. Thank you to AmCham for your leadership and advocacy on the TPP in both Canberra and Washington, D.C.
It is a fact that the TPP will strengthen existing trade and investment ties among the 12 TPP partners; boost economic growth; create jobs and opportunity; and deepen the economic, political, and security architecture of the Asia-Pacific region. The TPP will help to cement this region’s tremendous growth and economic power over the long term.
One of the many reasons why TPP will succeed is because it promotes innovation. It is the first trade agreement with specific provisions for e-commerce. And it has strong rules to protect U.S. creativity while also promoting a balance that ensures open, innovative, and technologically advanced economies.
Two years ago, I said I would make innovation a theme of my tenure as Ambassador. Each of you rolled up your sleeves and made this a success. Look how far we’ve come! Success is Prime Minister Turnbull putting innovation at the heart of Australia’s policy agenda. And, it was a central theme of the discussions between the Prime Minister and President at the White House in January. Australia has opened its first “landing pad” for Australian entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley, the birthplace of innovation. Silicon Valley was also the destination of AmCham’s wildly successful November 2015 “Innovation Mission.” Thanks to Geoff Culbert and AmCham’s innovation committee, you all are helping American and Australian companies drive innovation even further.
Our six innovation roundtables across Australia brought together students, business leaders, academics, scientists, researchers, government officials, venture capitalists, and entrepreneurs to discuss best practices and ideas for expanding cooperation. We last met in Perth, where any visitor to Western Australia can tell you that the energy sector is changing. COP-21 in Paris in December and the private-public partnership Mission Innovation launched there outline a clean energy future. And, clean energy requires the scientific and research community working in tandem with the business community in new and exciting ways.
It is not an exaggeration to say that American and Australian collaboration is revolutionizing the production of LNG, making it cleaner and more environmentally friendly. And, together, we are pioneering renewable energy solutions – hydro, wind, solar, geothermal, and wave energy, as well as biofuels. GE has acquired the Alstom power grid in South Australia, where it plans to pursue hydropower solutions to global energy demand. U.S. capital is financing the EnergyLab incubator and the Perth Wave Energy Project – both groundbreaking renewable energy initiatives.
U.S.-Australia innovation is further exemplified by our cooperation in education, such as new Fulbright scholarships designed to spur cooperation in science, technology, and entrepreneurship.
Then there is our cooperation in biomedical research. American doctors and scientists at the National Institutes of Health have joined forces with Australian researchers at the National Health and Medical Research Council to explore the human brain and seek cures for cancer and other devastating diseases.
Finally, nothing compares to what I like to call innovation at its finest: our joint exploration of the cosmos. NASA has invested $100 million U.S. dollars in Tidbinbilla over the last two years in preparation for the Mission to Mars – a mission that promises to advance technology by leaps and bounds.
Our American “brand” of business is known for innovation, and for success, but also for our democratic values, which we share with Australia – fair play, hard work, and good citizenship. It is with pride that I say American businesses are good citizens of Australia. AmCham serves as a citizens’ council; listening to its members and taking action on their behalf.
The American Chamber of Commerce in Australia is stronger today than ever before. Thank you to Maureen, Niels, and the Board for your fantastic leadership and vision.
AmCham’s 700 members are drawn from nearly every industry. Many, if not all, the companies represented here today face similar challenges. If you are not an AmCham member, I urge you to join. AmCham’s power is its breadth and its unity. I encourage you to use AmCham to advocate on behalf of your membership, whether with respect to tax policy, medical technology regulations, IPR protection, data center requirements, or any other hindrance to your engagement here.
American companies represent 25 percent of all investment in Australia. You have created, directly and indirectly, hundreds of thousands of jobs in Australia. American firms supply over $40 billion worth of Australia’s imported goods and services. Let’s use this strength to our mutual advantage.
AmCham’s leadership can pave the way for new partnerships, new industries, and new breakthroughs. Who was talking about the “blue economy” even ten years ago? Now such businesses are poised to generate millions of dollars in trade and investment. This is how we will create the jobs of the future. From aerospace to aquaculture, through AmCham, the United States is leading the way.
And, I have no doubt that Americans and Australians will boldly navigate the 21st century as we did the last, together, side-by-side.
Next week, we will mark the anniversary of the Battle of the Coral Sea. At this pivotal battle of World War II, Australians and Americans fought side-by-side to turn back the Japanese advance in the Pacific. Against daunting odds, we won. And, without the Coral Sea, there could have been no Midway, no Guadalcanal, no victory in the Pacific. The last 70 years of stability and prosperity in the Asia-Pacific region could have remained unimaginable.
The cost – the USS Lexington, three other ships, and 69 U.S. and Australian planes; 656 brave men, Americans and Australians. But, most importantly, Japan suffered its first defeat of the war – losing its two newest fleet carriers, eight smaller ships, 92 planes, and the strategic and offensive initiative in the Pacific.
The fortitude of these brave and noble few forged in blood an alliance second to none. Their sacrifice is the unshakeable foundation upon which our alliance stands. An alliance dedicated to shared values – duty, courage, mateship, and above all, freedom.
And while our alliance is often defined in terms of the battles we’ve fought together, as my remarks today have shown, the alliance between the United States and Australia is about so much more than security.
Together, we will answer the greatest challenge of our era – how to promote growth and economic opportunity for a growing population while conserving planet Earth.
Advanced manufacturing, innovative science, and emerging technologies will give birth to new industries and new jobs. Getting to Mars will force us to invent new ways to conserve water and improve fuel efficiency. The growing green and blue economies in the United States and Australia are a window on our future.
Together, we can secure a better today for this generation, and for our children, a bigger, better tomorrow.
Thank you AmCham for the indispensable leadership role you play in the U.S.-Australia alliance. An alliance dedicated to freedom and peace and prosperity. May it always shine bright.
Thank you. I look forward to our discussion.