Thank you Consul General Griffin and welcome to everyone here.
This year we celebrate both the 75th anniversary of diplomatic relations between the United States and Australia and the 10th anniversary of our free trade agreement. These milestones offer an extraordinary opportunity to reflect on our partnership and all its many facets. In the Asia-Pacific, more than six decades of U.S.-Australia diplomatic relations and cooperation have served as the bedrock for unprecedented stability and economic prosperity. Our strong trade and investment relationship is a key component of the U.S.-Australia strategic alliance. This cooperation is highlighted in numerous bilateral efforts, including AUSMIN, two-way trade, TPP, and our shared focus on innovation.
One indicator of our strong relationship is the success of AUSMIN talks.
In October, the United States hosted the annual AUSMIN discussions in Boston. As at all AUSMINs, we covered a lot of ground: from bilateral relations to global issues; from economic growth to developments in the Indo-Pacific region.
At AUSMIN, our leaders recognized the critical role that economic growth and regional economic integration play in preserving stability. As Pacific powers, the United States and Australia are committed to leading the region to stronger, broader growth through trade and investment, regional institutions, and technological innovation.
U.S. companies are our key partners in pursuing sustained growth and shared prosperity. American companies are successfully exporting to, investing in, partnering with, and doing business in Australia. But, this is nothing new. The U.S. business community has played a pivotal role in the economic development of Western Australia for more than a century. All the companies represented here tonight are evidence of that strong influence – from mining and infrastructure, to oil and gas, to services.
The United States is the largest foreign investor in Australia, and the bulk of that investment is here, in WA. Bilateral trade with Western Australia has been pivotal to the success of the AUSFTA, bringing mutual benefits.
That is why the U.S. Government works very hard to help American businesses succeed in Australia and in the Asia Pacific. And, that is why free trade agreements such as the one we have with Australia, and the recently concluded TransPacific Partnership, are so very important to our future economic health.
The TPP is one of the most significant trade agreements in history. This cutting edge deal is an economic manifestation of President Obama’s rebalance to the Asia Pacific; it will support a stable, transparent, rules-based order for the 21st century. The 12 countries in the agreement together make up 40% of the world’s GDP.
Not only will the TPP enhance trade and open markets, it will promote the rights of workers and protect the environment, encouraging sustainable growth and development. The complete text of the TPP was released last week and I encourage everyone to learn more about it. President Obama has officially notified Congress of his intent to sign the agreement. The U.S. Congress has never voted down a trade agreement.
Western Australia’s strategic location “in the zone” with the emerging economies of the Asia Pacific makes it well-positioned to take advantage of TPP – resulting in stronger trade relationships with TPP members, such as Vietnam and Malaysia, as well as possible future members.
TPP has an “open architecture,” which means other countries who want to join later may do so if they are willing to adhere to TPP’s high standards. We welcome Indonesian President Jokowi’s announcement during his recent visit to Washington that Indonesia would like to join the TPP.
This century will be defined by the Asia Pacific, and the United States and Australia will be there to help write the next chapter, together.
This century is one of transition for Western Australia, and the United States will continue to play an important role.
The state benefited greatly from the mining investment boom. It is time to invest those winnings in exports and in developing a knowledge economy. I am excited about the prospects for advances here in areas as diverse as radio astronomy, biomedical research, and clean energy – all issues on which there is strong U.S.-Australia cooperation.
AmCham knows the value of innovation. AmCham CEO Niels Marquardt could not join us this evening because he is leading an innovation trade mission to Silicon Valley. Later this month, AmCham WA is partnering with a NASA veteran for an innovation breakfast.
Annual events such as West Tech Fest and OzApp are indicative of Western Australia’s future as a hub of innovation and entrepreneurship. Next month, I will return to Perth for my Ambassador’s Innovation Roundtable and to cheer on young entrepreneurs taking part in a U.S.-sponsored startup boot camp.
When President Obama was in Brisbane a year ago, 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.” This is especially true in Western Australia, which is reinventing itself for the economy of the future.
And we are shaping that future together with business representatives, educators, and government supporters like you leading the way. Thank you.