You may have heard we recently had some internal disagreements back in Washington. For better or for worse, this is sometimes the way our political system and separation of power works. Those of you who regularly deal with Americans know that we can be opinionated. Some Americans might disagree with me on that. However, while we sometimes disagree very strongly, when we are finished we do what we have always done: we go on about the business of the United States.
No one ever made money betting against the United States – except possibly at the World Cup. And this is still the case. The things that make the United States a safe and reliable place to invest – our entrepreneurs, our workforce, our innovation – all of those things continue to underpin our economy. Our economic indicators remain strong, and we are open for business like never before.
We are also more engaged in the Asia-Pacific region than ever before.
Make no mistake. The President’s words in Parliament in 2011 were an iron-clad promise: “In the Asia-Pacific in the 21st century, the United States of America is all in.”
The United States is a Pacific nation. We are a Pacific power, and our future is in this region. Nine out of our top fifteen trade partners are APEC members; 60 percent of all U.S. exports go to those same countries. We are treaty allies with five Pacific nations, and partners with many more.
Our goal, now more than ever, is to be a force for peace and prosperity in the region. That’s why we are now permanent players at ASEAN. That’s why we have more than 330,000 people – civilian and military – serving in the U.S. Pacific Command – our largest force globally. That’s why we will have 60% of our naval assets deployed here by 2020. That’s why we are drawing Marines from bases all over the United States for training rotations in Darwin. And it’s why American diplomats all over the region are working hard to strengthen the cultural, scientific, and educational exchanges that are vital to building deeper understanding across borders.
The Australia-U.S. alliance is the bedrock on which our bilateral relationship is built. Our alliance has contributed to the security and prosperity of the region. It has helped support the tremendous economic growth of the last 40 years. Our friendship is the reason President Obama announced the rebalance here in Canberra almost two years ago.
Our relationships with both Australia and Japan play central roles in our vision for the region.
Japanese and Australian support will move us toward a peaceful and nuclear weapons free Korean Peninsula. Together we will maintain secure shipping lanes and combat piracy. Together we will be able to offset climate change and lessen the toll of natural disasters on the region’s populations.
While people generally think of it in terms of security, the rebalance is multidimensional. While our security and defense cooperation is deep and unparalleled, our trade and investment relationships are significant. The United States is the largest foreign investor in Australia by far and Japan accounts for about a million U.S. jobs. Security and prosperity go hand in hand, and we cannot achieve one without the other. One of the United States’ top priorities, therefore, is to encourage the conclusion of the Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations by the end of the year. And we will be working side by side with our Japanese and Australian friends to get that done.
This agreement, along with the rebalancing of our force posture, will be key drivers of regional security and economic cooperation for decades to come. The combined economic power of the twelve countries in the agreement accounts for about 40% of global GDP, and one-third of global trade. For Australia, it means over $11 billion a year in new exports alone. One day, the agreement could include every member of APEC, including China, which would turn the Asia-Pacific into a truly integrated region. We believe that the TPP will help improve the strength, the security, and the prosperity of the Asia-Pacific for the next century.
We are at a crossroads in this region; we are presented with enormous opportunities – for peace, for democratization, for trade and investment, and for implementing policies that will preserve our world for future generations.
However, with these major opportunities come challenges. We face serious threats to the collective peace and stability in the region: countries pursuing nuclear weapons, maritime disputes, terrorism, cybercrime, climate change, and a lack of energy security. Solving those means we must work with our allies and partners to find solutions. And two of our best – and closest – partners are represented here tonight.
Today, Japan, Australia, and the United States are increasingly working together to address the shared challenges of our times. We saw this most recently in Bali, where Secretary Kerry, Minister Bishop, and Minister Kishida discussed Syria, Iran, North Korea, and other regional issues – all the key concerns of the day – during the Trilateral Security Dialogue.
And we saw it during the very successful trilateral training exercises we conducted together in Victoria in May. Exercises like these help us work better together and lay the groundwork for more and closer cooperation in the future.
Before I end tonight, I’d like to note that I am the second generation of my family to serve in the Pacific, although on much different terms than my father and uncle. My father fought on Guadalcanal as part of the 1st Marine Division, and my uncle, for whom I am named, was a fighter pilot who lost his life in the Philippines. Because of their service and sacrifice, I feel a special responsibility to advance the cause of peace they fought so valiantly to secure.
The very name of this foundation recalls that era. The fact that we can make the transition from war to peace to friendship speaks volumes, not just about our countries and our people, but about the commitment to peace, security, and prosperity that we share. We are proving that enmity doesn’t have to continue, that fear doesn’t need to be the order of the day, and that there is always hope for peace. We are proving that together we can do the impossible.
Our alliances are founded on friendships that are rock solid.
When we see evil in the world, such as what we witnessed over the last months in Syria and Kenya, just like we have each witnessed in Bali, New York, or Tokyo it is clear that friends are as important as they have ever been. Those events make it clear that we can’t simply look the other way when bad things happen far away; we must work together to bring justice to those responsible.
As proud as America’s past has been in the Pacific, our future promises to be even brighter.
We will remain fully engaged in the Asia-Pacific, using our alliances to help countries rise, democracy to flourish, and prosperity to expand.
The only moral standard by which nations can be fairly judged was established in the Athenian oath: Whether we turn the world we inherited over to the next generation – not only, not less – but richer, better and more peaceful and abundant then it was given to us. Together we have met this high standard. Together, we can continue to do so.
Thank you, and may God always bless you, our leaders, and our great alliance.