(As prepared for delivery –August 23, 2016)
It is wonderful to be in Brisbane! I am delighted to be with you on one of my last visits to this beautiful and vibrant city as U.S. Ambassador.
Of all my amazing experiences of the last three years, the G20 meetings here in 2014 stand out. Brisbane impressed President Obama and his G20 counterparts with its seamless organization and gracious hosting of such a large and complicated high-level event. Brisbane proved itself to be one of the great cities of the world, and it only continues to rise.
Another highlight of my time here as Ambassador has been our Embassy’s close, collaborative relationship with the American Chamber of Commerce.
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 stellar relationship with this region today is a result of tremendous leadership in so many areas. And, that is what I want to focus on today – the leadership the Australian and U.S. governments are providing, and the leadership both the government of Queensland and you, the business community, are providing, in Australia and around the Asia-Pacific region.
Our leadership is constantly evolving. And, the reality is that America is a safe harbor and trusted ally for Australia in a turbulent world.
The truth of this is reflected in both the quality and quantity of recent high-level cross-Pacific engagements. The year began with the successful visit of Prime Minister Turnbull to Washington, D.C.; where he and President Obama spoke frankly and substantively for two hours in the Oval Office.
Following that visit, we have seen an impressive array of American visitors – from high-ranking generals, to cabinet officials and Members of Congress, to leading figures in science and the arts – culminating in last month’s visit by Vice President Biden. The Vice President highlighted our cooperation across the board: from cancer research to advanced manufacturing, from defense to entrepreneurship and innovation. He made it clear that America looks to Australia, as an ally and global leader.
The Australian government sponsored Australia United States Business Week events across the United States in February and launched one of its first innovation “landing pads” in San Francisco. In June, Queensland’s own Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk undertook a four-city tour of the United States to explore opportunities for state-to-state cooperation in innovation, entrepreneurship, renewable energy, and broader environmental stewardship. This was her second trip to the United States as Premier. She is at the head of the pack and other state premiers may soon follow her lead.
From military to intelligence, from space to sport, from culture to education, from tourism to trade, it is clear that U.S-Australia cooperation knows no bounds and is a model for other strategic relationships in the Asia-Pacific. These strong bilateral ties underpin the principled, rules-based, international 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 $1.5 trillion U.S. dollar economic partnership between the United States and Australia. I have watched two-way investment increase nearly 50 percent over the last three years, and it is growing every day. This signifies the trust, confidence, and optimism we have in the strength of each other’s economies.
Thanks to you, the United States is the largest foreign investor in Australia. American companies represent almost a quarter of all investment here. U.S. direct investment in Australia stands at $180 billion and indirect investment totals more than $600 billion. 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. All this is phenomenal!
Here in Queensland, U.S. investment in the energy and mining sector is a boon to the local economy. Exports to the United States are at record highs, the services trade is booming, and numbers of American tourists and students are on the rise.
But, U.S. engagement with Queensland is nothing new. In the 1890s, GE electrified Brisbane’s trams and provided the “electric lighting apparatus” installed at Queensland’s Parliament – the first parliament to be electrified.
GE maintains a robust presence here to this day. And more and more U.S. companies are doing business in Queensland. In the state government, they have found a willing and ready partner. That is why American companies like Boeing, ConocoPhillips, IBM, and Raytheon have forged important business relationships here in Queensland, invested in local communities, and created thousands of jobs.
ConocoPhillips leads a consortium that has invested in LNG facilities on Curtis Island, which will account for roughly 8 percent of global LNG production. This project stands out for two reasons. First, for the innovative flare technology that reduces the plant’s environmental impact. Second, for the partners: Australia, the United States, and China. Look no further than Queensland to see a world-class example of what can happen when we work together to the mutual benefit of all.
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.
But, LNG is not the end of the story. Americans and Queenslanders are working together to develop and diversify new, sustainable sources of energy and minimize mining’s environmental impact. We saw a number of tangible partnerships emerge from Premier Palaszczuk’s June visit to the United States; all of which underscore the strength, depth, and diversity of our economic relationship.
I want to encourage American companies to work with our embassy to tell the story of your work with small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), new graduates, interns, and local tech development. We need to tell the story of the difference FDI makes to Australia.
More than a decade after we signed our free trade agreement, bilateral trade has experienced tremendous growth. In Queensland alone, exports to the United States have increased 98 percent over the last five years, driven by U.S. demand for Australian beef. The United States is now the number one international destination for Australian beef and wine. And, the United States is Australia’s leading source of aircraft and farm machinery. The landmark Trans-Pacific Partnership will further open our markets and promote prosperity.
Thank you to AmCham for your leadership and advocacy on the TPP in both Canberra and Washington, D.C. You know that we can’t afford to ignore the vast markets beyond U.S. and Australian shores.
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.
While the TPP is a win for all countries and Australia as a whole, Queensland itself will accrue significant benefits – beef, seafood, and sugar producers will be able to expand in existing markets in Japan and the United States, and access new markets like Canada and Mexico. Queensland’s excellent universities will have new access to rapidly growing educational markets like Malaysia and Japan.
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. and Australian 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. Look how far we’ve come together! Prime Minister Turnbull has put innovation at the heart of Australia’s policy agenda. It was a central theme of the discussions between the Prime Minister and President at the White House in January and the SelectUSA Investment Summit in June. Premier Palaszczuk furthered the innovation conversation during her trip to the United States in May and June. AmCham will return to the world’s innovation hub – Silicon Valley – and visit Seattle, during its 2016 “Innovation Mission” this October and November.
The Embassy’s six innovation roundtables across Australia, including one in Brisbane in October 2014, brought together students, business leaders, academics, scientists, researchers, government officials, venture capitalists, and entrepreneurs to discuss best practices and ideas for expanding cooperation. The Brisbane roundtable stood out from the pack because of the importance the Queensland government has placed on innovation and the backing of QUT and UQ. The QUTbluebox challenge was one of the most innovative, creative, and fun experiences I have had as U.S. Ambassador to Australia.
Thanks to the roundtables, I met Queensland’s innovation “secret weapon,” 11-year old Hamish Finlayson from Townsville. The developer of four apps with untold ideas for more, he stole the show at President Obama’s recent Global Entrepreneurship Summit.
The Global Entrepreneurship Summit was about how to take great ideas, get people talking about them, and make them part of our global reality. Queensland is at the forefront when it comes to the commercialization of great ideas – thanks to both the Advance Queensland initiative and strong links between the public and private sectors – Queensland also gets everyone, from students to senior citizens, involved in science.
Your state is part of a global effort to take science out of the laboratory and into the streets, as we saw in March when Brisbane hosted the World Science Festival. For the next six years, New York City and Brisbane will take turns hosting this annual celebration of the intersection between science and pop culture.
That is why Queensland is so well-positioned to lead when it comes to critical issues of the day. In Paris last December, the international community outlined a global clean energy future. And, clean energy requires the scientific and research community to work in tandem with the business community in new and exciting ways. It is not an exaggeration to say that American and Australian collaboration is already 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.
Queensland, the Sunshine State, has notably increased its investment in solar and wind power generation and is pioneering the development of commercial biofuels. The recent MOU concluded between Queensland and the U.S. Navy covering biofuels for the Great Green Fleet is a sign of the great things to come.
You can also expect great things from our work together 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. The Queensland Brain Institute at the University of Queensland is part of this research, and U.S.-Australia cooperation is fostering an emerging biologic industry here in Brisbane.
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 over the last two years for upgrades and new satellite dishes at the Canberra Deep Space Communications Complex. This partnership with the CSIRO is preparing both our countries for the Mission to Mars – a mission that promises to advance technology by leaps and bounds. We’ll make that journey together.
That is because getting to Mars will force us to invent new ways to conserve water and improve fuel efficiency. Which, is part of the answer to 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 – in Queensland, across Australia, and across the United States. Our growing green and blue economies offer a hint of our future. AmCham is helping us all get to a better today for this generation, and for our children, a bigger, better tomorrow.
This century will be defined by the Asia Pacific. It will be defined by the joint economic investments made by U.S. and Australian companies. It will be defined by our relationships with regional neighbors, friends, and allies. It will be defined by the United States and Australia moving boldly forward, together.
Thank you. I look forward to our discussion.