This year, we are marking the 75th anniversary of diplomatic relations between the United States and Australia. While this may not be one of our oldest partnerships, there is no doubt it is one of our most valued. We have no better friend than Australia.
Together with Australia, we have ensured peace and stability in the Pacific since the end of World War II.
Over the years, our historic ties have grown to encompass issues ranging from educational exchanges to trade to conservation to scientific research. We are working together to counter violent extremism and the hateful ideology of ISIL, to contain the spread of Ebola and find a cure for AIDS, to develop new sources of energy, and to encourage the entrepreneurs of tomorrow.
When President Obama outlined our strategy for engagement in the Asia-Pacific to Parliament in Canberra in 2011, he recognized both the strategic importance of this region and the importance of Australia to its success.
With our rebalance to the Asia-Pacific, we recognized that we must increase our engagement across all dimensions, whether diplomatic, economic, or security and defense.
Our overall goal in the region is, as President Obama said, “to sustain a stable security environment and a regional order grounded in economic openness, peaceful resolution of disputes, and respect for universal rights and freedoms.”
As a Pacific nation, it would be a mistake for us not to seek more contact, stronger alliances, and better engagement to build for the future. It would be a mistake for us not to seek to establish frameworks that apply to everyone, outline the rules of the road, and which provide clear means for the peaceful resolution of disputes.
While our cooperation spans the globe, I’d like to talk to you today mainly about some aspects of our bilateral relationship – trade and investment, innovation, and conservation. These are among my highest priority agenda items as Ambassador.
Trade and investment are incredibly important to achieving our goals for the region – and for our own economy. They drive job creation and they ensure growth.
But it’s tough to compete when the rules of the road are unclear, or change unpredictably, or lack transparency.
In order to build a trade environment that is open, honest, and fair for all the parties involved, we are working hard with Australia and ten other partners to conclude the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement.
We believe the TPP will become the model for addressing new and emerging trade issues in the 21st century.
This ambitious trade agreement will bring down barriers to trade and investment, and open new markets.
It will improve the coherence of regulatory systems, and increase supply chain efficiency. It will promote green and innovative technologies. The TPP will include strong protections for workers, the environment, intellectual property, and innovative technologies – such as those being developed by companies like Carbon Revolution here in Geelong.
This will, in turn, protect the jobs that these companies are bringing to the area. As emerging leaders in innovation and technological development, this will be of increasing importance.
Companies in Geelong produce some of the most advanced manufactures in the world, but the vast majority of the consumers for these products are outside Australia’s borders.
The fastest growing economies and middle classes that demand high-quality Australian products are in the Asia-Pacific region, and the TPP will put Geelong companies into the network of regional supply chains that will deliver those products.
The TPP will give Australian and American businesses and farmers access to a trading area that produces 40% of the world’s GDP, creating more and better jobs. It will give our countries access to more than 500 million middle class consumers who will want the kinds of products and services that we can provide.
We believe the TPP will become the model for addressing new and emerging trade issues in the 21st century.
We are now in the home stretch on the TPP negotiations. Although there is still work to be done, momentum is on our side, and we look forward to completing the agreement as soon as possible.
Making trade and investment easier is good business for all of us.
This year, we will celebrate the tenth anniversary of the Australia-U.S. Free Trade Agreement. Since its implementation, our bilateral trade of goods and services has nearly doubled to more than $61 billion. In the first six years alone, the number of Australian companies operating in the United States also doubled.
The United States is Victoria’s fourth largest destination for exports. We are the second biggest source of imports.
Today, the United States is the largest foreign investor in Australia.
By the end of last year, U.S. Foreign Direct Investment stock in Australia was $159 billion, and Australian companies had invested $44 billion in the United States.
If we count indirect investment, the entire U.S.-Australia economic relationship is worth more than a trillion dollars. As the United States emerges from the Global Financial Crisis, I expect our trade and investment relationship to grow.
Our free trade agreement has been a success by any measure. The fact that much of the growth occurred during one of the worst financial crises since the Great Depression is further evidence that when we work together we both win.
When times are tough, Americans and Australians can never lose when they bet on each other.
Hundreds of U.S. companies are betting on Australia and Australians. These include some of our biggest and most successful like ExxonMobil, Lockheed, Citibank, Microsoft, GE, and Dow. Boeing and Ford are putting their futures in the hands of Australians with major R&D hubs here.
Dow Chemical operates a factory and lab here in Geelong. They test paints in all kinds of weather to see how they perform. Given the intensity of the sunlight, I guess if a paint can make it here, it can make it anywhere.
Kemin Nutrisurance operates out of the Technology Precinct, to provide pet food and supplements.
Some of Australia’s largest resources projects are U.S. investments, including Chevron’s massive Gorgon and Wheatstone LNG projects, and ConocoPhillips’ LNG project at Gladstone.
These investments bring jobs, capital, and technology into Australia.
But our economic relationship is not a one way street. Hundreds of Australian companies export products to the United States, or have subsidiary branches there. We’d like to see more Australian companies operating in the United States – we are a huge potential market for Australian good and services.
With the U.S. economy back in full swing, it’s also become the top destination for foreign investment. And so President Obama created SelectUSA in 2011to facilitate business investment for overseas companies.
We recently provided Melbourne-based vitamin manufacturer Swisse with information on setting up operations in the U.S. Swisse has established an office in Chicago. Many of the company’s products are already on the shelves in stores across the U.S.
We’d like to do the same for companies here in Geelong. I encourage you to be in touch, whether you are thinking about expanding soon or a few years down the road.
Next month, I’ll be returning to the United States to talk to U.S. companies about the advantages of exporting to Australia and doing business here.
Any city – any company that wants to succeed in the future is going to need those qualities in abundance.
We don’t know where our economies will take us. We don’t know where the jobs of the 21st century will be. We don’t know where the next super storm or pandemic will hit. We do know that we need to be prepared.
Innovation will help us face the challenges of an uncertain climate, an aging population, and a changing energy landscape.
Innovation can help us find cures for the most devastating diseases and provide clean water, plentiful food, and safe housing to the billions of people living on this fragile planet.
Because of this, investment in science, technology, and research is the most important guarantee we can make for our future.
But Americans don’t have a monopoly on talented and creative people. We are not the only country coming up with new ideas. Australians are among the most innovative people in the world.
From the development of a vaccine to protect women and girls from cervical cancer, to outlining the dangers posed by climate change, to unlocking the mysteries of the brain, Australians are on the cutting edge of science and technology.
In a country full of innovators, Geelong stands out. I am tremendously impressed with the work that is being done to make this a world class center of innovation, research, and science. From carbon fiber to health care to robotics, Geelong is leading the way in innovation here in Australia.
After all, it isn’t every city that could convince a firm of Melbourne patent attorneys like Davies Collison Cave to open up offices here. That is a sign that your tech companies, your innovators, and your researchers are really doing some tremendous work.
The Centre for Intelligent Systems Research is revolutionizing fields from medicine to defense with their robotic. I’m told researchers there are teaching a thing or two to the best minds at the U.S. Department of Defense and are partnering on cutting edge research with American universities, with companies like Boeing and Lockheed Martin.
The work being done here in carbon fiber technology is second to none in the world. And at Deakin University, researchers are performing groundbreaking studies on materials that can withstand extreme cold. Manufacturers here are developing new and better power poles that can resist bushfires – an important quality both here in Australia and in the western U.S. – and quieter wind turbines.
Like Geelong, the United States is preparing for a future in which innovation will determine economic success. We are investing in basic research through the President’s Strategy for American Innovation. We are promoting U.S. exports. We are encouraging entrepreneurs. We are making historic investments in – among other things – clean energy technology, medical research, and advanced vehicle technologies. We are promoting investment in STEM education because none of the rest of this will matter if we don’t produce the best scientists and engineers in the world.
Finally, we are looking to expand our partnerships – including here in Geelong.
Australian and U.S. cooperation in research and development already spans universities and government, think tanks and corporations. Creative people and creative companies are teaming up to figure out how to deal with a changing world, changing populations, changing markets, and a changing climate.
But it isn’t enough just to have good ideas. Sometimes coming up with new ideas and new technologies is the “easy” part of the equation. Bringing the results of our research and cooperation to market can be a significant challenge.
This is why I have launched a series of Innovation Roundtables. These events put students, business leaders, academics, government officials, venture capitalists, and entrepreneurs in the same room to talk about best practices and expanding cooperation.
Our next roundtable will be tomorrow at Swinburne University in Melbourne. I hope to see you there.
But innovation doesn’t just mean developing new technologies. It also means developing new techniques to handle longstanding issues. In that way, innovation is crucial for conservation as well.
Every year, hundreds of thousands of tourists come to Victoria. More than 150,000 of those were Americans in 2014. They came to see Melbourne. They came to see the Australian Open. They came to see the beaches. And they came to see the spectacular natural beauty of the Great Ocean Road, an iconic symbol of Australia.
When I testified before the Senate during my confirmation hearing, I made it clear that working with Australians to help protect the global environment would be one of my major priorities as Ambassador.
You understand here in this region more than most how important it is to preserve the amazing landscapes and animals that are such a huge draw for tourists – and which fuel the tourism industry here in Victoria.
Groups like the Committee for Geelong and the Geelong Region Alliance (G21) that are working to ensure responsible and sustainable growth strategies are tremendously important to these efforts.
While we both do a lot separately to protect and conserve our environments, we also do a lot together. However, I think there’s still more than we can do.
For example, I have been working to bring specialists from both Australia and the United States together to discuss best practices in conservation. There is a lot that we can learn from each other.
I visited the Australian Wildlife Conservancy’s Mornington Wilderness Camp in Western Australia last year. Their efforts to restore native wildlife over a massive expanse of territory were impressive. Some of the things they are doing – such as fencing off large tracts of land and removing invasive species – have long been considered impractical. They are proving that this model can work. Best of all, it may work in other places, including the United States.
Researchers are also adapting some very high tech tools indeed – such as satellites – to tell us more about how birds migrate over long distances and to predict where coral bleaching is most likely to occur.
We also study the behavior of whales in the Southern Ocean. Knowing how and when they eat gives us a better idea about how we can work to conserve these majestic creatures.
All of this information helps improve conservation efforts, and helps scientists understand how the birds, coral, and other animals are affected by habitat loss, climate change, and disease.
Exploring how we can adapt these – and other – techniques to the unique needs of a region and its people offers us considerable opportunities to work together. As with many problems that cross man-made boundaries, building strong and enduring partnerships is crucial to achieving results.
When President Obama was in Brisbane last November, he spoke about how Australians and Americans share many traits. We are both nations of immigrants. Our forebears bequeathed to us a common desire to push toward the frontier, to seek the next challenge beyond the horizon, and to discover solutions before others even realize that there is a problem.
We know, as the President said, that “the future is ours to make.”
Geelong, its leaders, and its business community embody that spirit. The Global Financial Crisis may have taken a toll. None of you are strangers to this fact. But you went looking for solutions. You thought about what needed to happen to make Geelong better, stronger, and more competitive in the new economy.
As a result, Geelong is well-placed to attract new jobs, new investment, and new business. I have no doubt that you are well prepared to lead in the Australian and world markets of today – and the future.
The United States will be right there alongside you.