Secretary Clinton's Visit to Australia Highlights Collaboration
Secretary Clinton’s three-day trip to Melbourne, Australia highlighted the excellent collaborative relationship our two nations enjoy. The United States and Australia are key allies with a history of shared political interests and a future of increased cooperation on trade, technology, and transnational issues. While in Australia, Secretary Clinton met with Prime Minister Julia Gillard, Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd, and others to discuss ways of further strengthening the alliance. This was Secretary Clinton’s first visit to Australia as Secretary of State and her first-ever visit to Melbourne.
- Strengthening the Alliance: Secretary Clinton was joined by U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, Foreign Minister Rudd, and Australian Defense Minister Stephen Smith for the 25th anniversary meeting of the Australia-United States Ministerial (AUSMIN) to discuss regional and global security issues. After AUSMIN, the leaders released a joint communiqué detailing areas of mutual understanding, including continued efforts in Afghanistan and space and cyber security.
Collaborating on Science, Technology and the Environment: The United States and Australia are partnering to lead global efforts to address some of the most pressing challenges of the 21st century, including climate change and the development of new clean energy technologies. While visiting the Pixel Building – Australia’s first carbon neutral office building – Secretary Clinton and Prime Minister Gillard announced a series of new steps to strengthen U.S.-Australia science and technology cooperation aimed at protecting the environment and providing access to cleaner energy.
- Solar Research Cooperation: Our countries launched a new U.S.-Australia Solar Energy Research Collaboration, which will improve the competitiveness of our solar industries, help the United States reach its goal of doubling renewable energy production by 2012, and help Australia reach its goal of 20 percent renewable energy by 2020. The U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory and the Australian Solar Institute will play lead roles in this initiative.
- Clean Energy Cooperation: The US. State Department has provided new funding of $500,000 to the Global Carbon Capture and Storage Institute (GCCSI), an initiative launched and funded by the Australian Government that the U.S. Department of Energy has formally joined. The United States and Australia, which have together announced over $6 billion of domestic funding to accelerate commercial deployment of carbon capture and storage (CCS), will use the Institute to disseminate lessons from their domestic CCS programs and employ combined expertise to lay the groundwork for future CCS projects in developing countries.
- Enhancing Science & Technology Cooperation: Secretary Clinton and Prime Minister Gillard announced the convening of a Science and Technology Joint Commission Meeting in Washington, D.C. February 2011. The Commission is slated to review current science and technology cooperation and identify areas for enhanced cooperation such as clean energy, biotechnology, agriculture, health, and climate research.
- Education Cooperation: To mark the 60th anniversary of the U.S-Australia Fulbright Agreement, Secretary Clinton and Prime Minister Gillard announced that both governments will pledge $75,000 a year over three years, for a combined total of $450,000 to create new Fulbright Scholarships in Renewable Energy and Climate Science Research. The awards will support U.S. and Australian scholars to increase scientific collaboration on renewable energy research and address the challenges of climate change. Over the past sixty years, more than 2,600 Australian and 2,000 American students and scholars have participated in the Fulbright Program.
- Space Cooperation: Bilateral space cooperation dates back to NASA’s earliest days, when Australian antennas beamed Neil Armstrong’s famous words as he took his first step on the moon and today serve as a critical link to the Voyager space probe and newer probes and space vehicles. To build on this longstanding partnership, the United States and Australia plan to continue discussions regarding the possibility of a framework agreement to expand bilateral cooperation on the peaceful use of outer space, which could focus on satellite-based land and sea remote sensing, climate change research, meteorology, and navigation.
Highlighting our Trade Relationship: The United States and Australia enjoy a strong bilateral economic relationship that enhances job creation, wealth and innovation in both countries. From January 1, 2005, when the U.S.-Australia Free Trade Agreement (FTA) entered into force, through 2009, U.S. merchandise exports to Australia increased 40.4%. The United States had an $11.5 billion goods trade surplus with Australia in 2009. In the first quarter of 2010, U.S. exports to Australia totaled $5.1 billion, a 6.3% increase over the same period in 2009. This strong economic relationship exemplifies the benefits of free trade and open investment for U.S. workers and businesses. The U.S.-Australia FTA guarantees U.S. access to the Australian market. More than 99 percent of U.S. exports of manufactured goods now enter duty-free. Secretary Clinton’s visit to the Port of Melbourne spotlighted our robust trade relationship.
- Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Free Trade Agreement: The U.S. share of exports to key Asian-Pacific markets has declined over the past decade, partly due to the many preferential trade agreements that do not include the United States. Our involvement in the TPP would help reverse this trend, increase U.S. exports to the region, and serve as a model for regional economic integration. The nine TPP members include: Australia, Brunei Darussalem, Chile, Malaysia, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, the United States, and Vietnam. We look to Australia for its strong leadership and support in the TPP negotiations.
- U.S. Exports to Australia: Of the 2.1 million containers that go through the Port of Melbourne every year, 96,000 containers come from the U.S. (1 in every 12). Since the U.S.-Australia FTA went into effect, there have been $4.3 billion in exports to Australia from General Electric (approx. $860 million per year). Caterpillar exports to Australia in 2009 totaled $776 million. Harley Davidson’s annual export volumes to Australia include $180 million worth of motorcycles and $45 million worth of parts and accessories. John Deere also considers Australia a significantly important export market for their equipment.
- Combating Violence against Women: Foreign Minister Rudd and Secretary Clinton issued a joint declaration to combat violence against women globally and to promote women’s empowerment. The joint declaration demonstrates U.S. and Australia’s strong support for the new UN Women and its leader Michele Bachelet, as well as the joint commitment to garner global support for women’s empowerment. Secretary Clinton’s Office of Global Women’s Issues (S/GWI) will also collaborate with AusAID and the World Bank Group to co-host a policy dialogue in Australia in 2011 on effective means to combat gender-based violence and promote women’s empowerment in the Pacific region.
Cooperating on Regional Development Assistance: Australia has played a critical role in enhanced U.S. involvement in the Pacific region, particularly in the area of development assistance. In June 2010, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID) signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) establishing a partnership to extend our successful bilateral cooperation to the area of development assistance. Foreign Minister Rudd and Secretary Clinton announced new joint initiatives to fight HIV/AIDS in the Pacific and enhance global food security.
- Fighting HIV/AIDS and Fostering Maternal and Child Health: The spread of HIV is one of the biggest development challenges facing Papua New Guinea. Next year, subject to Congressional approval, the United States plans to double its contribution to fight HIV/AIDS in Papua New Guinea through the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), from $2.5 million in FY 2009 and FY 2010 to $5 million in FY 2011. Australia committed nearly $34 million to combat HIV/AIDs in Papua New Guinea in 2010-2011, and Secretary Clinton welcomes the opportunity to work more closely with both countries on this issue. In Timor Leste, Australia has contributed almost $5 million to the USAID-led Health Improvement Project, which aims to foster community health activities, including engagement on maternal and child health.
- Ensuring Food Security: Both the United States and Australia recognize the importance of rice as a staple food around the globe. Therefore, USAID and AusAID are continuing their commitments to the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) to develop new, higher-yielding rice varieties that can also use water more efficiently and perform well under stress from heat and drought. The United States is pleased to note Australia's recent announcement of a contribution of nearly $50 million to the Global Agriculture and Food Security Program trust fund. These contributions are important to global cooperation efforts to fight hunger.