Remarks by the Vice President to the US-Australian Business Community
The InterContinental Hotel
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, g’day. Minister Steven Ciobo, thank you for that kind introduction and those eloquent words about the relationship between the United States and Australia. And I want thank you for tireless work strengthening the economic partnership between your nation and mine. And it’s an honor for you to be joining us here today.
To all of our honored guests, to our host, Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce, who I’ll be meeting with momentarily, to Minister Arthur Sinodinos, Ambassador Joe Hockey, our Chargé d’Affaires, Jim Carouso, Consul General Valerie Fowler, to Maureen Dougherty, and members of the American Chamber of Commerce for Australia hosting us today, distinguished leaders of the business community, honored guests, it is my great honor to be here today in Australia on behalf of the President of the United States of America -- on my first visit to the Asia Pacific as Vice President I had to come to our ally and friend Australia. (Applause.)
And I bring greetings from the 45th President of the United States, President Donald Trump, to all of you who are gathered here today, and especially to the business leaders who are gathered here and have been a part of such a dynamic economic relationship between the United States and Australia.
The President sent me here as the first member of his administration to visit Australia, and I am tremendously grateful for the opportunity to be with all of you.
Earlier today, on President Trump’s behalf, I had the great privilege of meeting with your Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull. I reaffirmed to him what I would reaffirm to all of you today and to the people of Australia who may be looking on: Australia is, and always will be, one of America’s closest allies and truest friends. We are partners in security. We are partners in prosperity, and together we are bound by our historic alliance.
And under President Trump, the United States is dedicated to strengthening our bond, strengthening our ties for the benefit of our people of both of our nations and people all over the world. (Applause.)
The relationship between our nations stretches back literally generations. From the Coral Sea to Kandahar, our friendship has been forged ultimately in the fires of sacrifice.
Only three days from now, it’s humbling for me to say that I stand here on the eve of when Australia will commemorate that extraordinary moment every year, ANZAC Day, to honor those brave Australian and New Zealand veterans who gave their lives in the defense of freedom, often alongside Americans. We call a similar commemoration Memorial Day in America, and it’s humbling for me to stand before you today just a few short days before this annual commemoration of those who gave the last full measure of devotion.
The sons and daughters of both our lands have fought shoulder-to-shoulder in every conflict for the past 100 years. From World Wars One and Two, to Korea, to Vietnam, and most recently, in the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan -- it’s remarkable to consider it -- our grandparents, our parents, and now our children are serving together. They have sacrificed together to defend the freedom that we all hold dear. And we honor them this day and every day.
Even now our citizens serve together in Afghanistan and in the fight against ISIS. And around the world, we are deepening our defense collaboration, and we will continue to do so to ensure the safety and security of our people.
The historic United States-Australia alliance is more vital than ever to regional security and prosperity. In recent years, we have dramatically stepped up our collaboration and cooperation between the United States and Australia -- intelligence sharing, increasing our emphasis on cyber capabilities, and we’ve conducted and will continue to conduct joint military exercises to ensure readiness, including the Talisman Saber, which will take place later this year.
Together, our nations will continue to uphold a rules-based system as the foundation of peace and prosperity in the Asia Pacific.
In the South China Sea and throughout the region, we will defend the fundamental freedoms of navigation and overflight, and the United States of America with Australia will ensure the unimpeded flow of lawful commerce, and promote a peaceful dialogue to address every issue that arises of regional and global concern. (Applause.)
Under President Trump’s leadership, the United States and Australia will continue to stand firm and to stand strong, as well, to confront the most urgent and dangerous threat to peace and security in the Asia Pacific, the regime in North Korea.
While all options are on the table, the United States will continue to work closely with our allies, including Australia and other allies across the region, and with China to bring economic and diplomatic pressure to bear on the regime in Pyongyang until they finally and permanently abandon their nuclear and ballistic missile programs.
President Trump and I are truly grateful -- truly grateful to Prime Minister Turnbull and all the people of Australia -- for calling on China to play a more constructive role in addressing the North Korean threat.
The President and I have great confidence that China will properly deal with Korea. But as President Trump made clear just a few days ago, if China is unable to deal with North Korea, the United States, and our allies, will.
The United States and Australia face this threat, and every other one, together -- because we know that our security is the foundation of our prosperity. And strengthening our prosperity is what I came to this forum mostly to talk about today, so let me begin by simply saying thank you.
All the businesses represented in this room are why the United States and Australia are such close economic partners.
Just look at the American Chamber of Commerce in Australia. Since 1961, AMCHAM has brought together American and Australian businesses to foster investment and opportunity on both sides of the Pacific, and your 600 corporate members are a testament to our collective success.
On behalf of President Trump, let me just say thank you for your tireless work to draw the United States and Australia closer together.
And thank you to all the businesses that are represented here today -- ConocoPhillips, Microsoft, GE, and really, all of you in this room -- you’re titans of industry and you're pillars of the U.S.-Australia economic partnership.
You create jobs in both of our countries. You drive innovation. You open up opportunity. And you’ve helped build a strong and durable bond between the United States and Australia.
In fact, thanks in no small part to you, the United States is far and away Australia’s largest economic partner -- not just in this region, but across the wider world.
All told, our economic partnership is worth a staggering $1.5 trillion - and investment has grown by 50 percent in the last three years alone.
Countless American companies export tens of billions of dollars’ worth of goods and services to Australia every year -- machines, appliances, automobiles, parts, electrical machinery, textiles, apparel, you name it.
Today, more than a quarter of a million American jobs depend on exports to Australia. The American people are grateful.
American companies also are investing in Australia like never before. More than 1,000 U.S. businesses large and small, have operations here today. My own brother who works with Cummins engine company spent five memorable years with his family here in Sydney as he worked in their Australia operation.
To name just another one of these companies, Chevron’s gas facilities are now the largest single foreign investment ever in the history of Australia. And U.S. investment here has contributed greatly to Australia’s huge commodity exports to Asia.
And the investments flow both ways. Today, the United States is Australia’s leading destination for investment, and we're grateful. Australian companies have invested just under $45 billion in America, where they employ over 95,000 Americans in good-paying jobs.
I know the benefits of Australian investment firsthand. In my home state of Indiana, IFM Investors, who are represented here today, invested more than $5 billion in the Indiana toll road. The bottom line is that our economies are inextricably intertwined in a win-win relationship that's creating jobs and opportunity for both our nations.
From energy to agriculture, advanced manufacturing to aerospace, our economic partnership is vital to the American people and vital to the people of Australia.
And today, under President Trump, I’m very pleased to pledge that the United States will continue to work together with Australia to forge even greater opportunity and prosperity for both our nations and our people.
President Trump is committed to fostering free and fair bilateral trade relationships with Australia and throughout the Asia Pacific.
The good news is that the U.S.-Australia Free Trade Agreement is already working. In fact, the United States believes our agreement with Australia is a case study in success -- and while we can always make additional progress, and the Prime Minister and I talked about identifying areas that we might lower barriers to trade and investment, we consider the U.S.-Australia trade agreement to be model for a mutually beneficial trade agreement and a model for the world.
Ever since it came into force in 2005, bilateral trade and investment between our nations has soared. Minister Ciobo, know that your contribution to our trade relationship is deeply appreciated.
But we think we can still do better. This morning, Prime Minister Turnbull and I discussed the need to take those additional steps that I mentioned to break down barriers to foster even more investment and exchange between our nations.
It is just the beginning of a conversation that will continue. But President Trump and I look forward to continuing our dialogue with Australia’s leaders in the months and years ahead to the benefit of all of our people.
And we hope that all of you in this room will join that conversation. We had a good one earlier today with some of the business leaders who gathered for our listening session. As members of the business community, you can help us identify the barriers that we need to break down and areas that we can improve to make more economic progress possible.
President Trump and I value your continued input on the issues that you face, and we know the job creators in this room can help us move toward a system that maximizes jobs and growth, and a brighter future here in Australia and in the United States.
The truth is that a stronger American economy also means a stronger economy for all of our trading partners, including Australia.
And let me promise you, under President Trump’s leadership, the United States is going to drive growth like never before.
President Trump has already taken decisive action to get our American economy moving again. Our administration is working around the clock to pass an agenda of lower taxes, less regulation, better infrastructure, and a renewed focus on American energy.
I’m sure you’ll be glad to know that American businesses represented here today and businesses that are investing in our country -- that tax reform is one of our very top priorities, including a reform of corporate taxes. I don’t have to tell you how the American tax code harms our business community, at home and abroad.
Our corporate tax rate today is one of the highest in the developed world -- and it’s 5 percent higher than the tax rate here in Australia. President Trump’s tax plan would slash the corporate rate and reform the tax code to make it simpler, flatter, and fairer.
Rest assured, our tax reform will make the strongest economy in the world stronger still, and it will benefit the American people, American workers, and it will benefit the economy of Australia.
And the same is true of President Trump’s decisive action on regulation. He’s already announced that our various agencies have to find two regulations to get rid of before they create any one new piece of red tape on the American people.
The President has already signed dozens bills turning back the last administration’s burdensome mandates, and he’ll continue to work with Congress to slash through red tape so jobs and opportunities can flow in the United States.
Make no mistake: Under President Donald Trump, the era of over-taxation and over-regulation is over, and a new era of jobs and growth and prosperity has just begun.
Now these are a couple of the policies that the President is advancing, and I could keep on going. But I’ll go easy on you. I just appreciate the feedback I received from so many of you earlier today in our roundtable about what our administration can continue to do to foster jobs and investment and growth.
And rest assured, President Trump’s agenda will renew America’s reputation as the premier investment destination in the world. And as America’s economy grows, all of our trading partners and Australia’s economy will benefit as a result.
And we're confident that working together with you and with Australia’s leaders, we're going to build on a strong foundation. And we're going to reach even new heights in our partnership, in our relationship, strategically, and economically.
And the President and I are also confident that the historic alliance between the United States and Australia will grow even stronger in the years ahead. Nowhere is our enduring commitment to each other and to our shared future more evident than in our shared struggle against global terrorism.
The people of the United States will never forget that Australia invoked our ANZUS Security Treaty for the first and only time following the attack on our nation on September the 11th, an attack which claimed the lives of nearly 3,000 innocent people, including 11 Australians. The support that Australia showed in our darkest hour will never be forgotten by the American people.
Australia, like the United States, has not been spared in this regard. The four-lone wolf terror attacks over the past 31 months were all inspired by this global cancer.
And as the Prime Minister and I discussed today, the people of Australia can rest assured: Under your leadership here in this nation and under President Trump’s leadership, we will not rest, we will not relent until, together, we drive the evil of global terrorism from the face of this Earth. (Applause.)
As I close, let me simply say that the historic alliance between Australia and the United States is a beacon that shines not only throughout the Asia Pacific, but across the wider world. Our shared history and our shared values bind us together. And as we look toward what lies ahead, we do so with confidence as we stand here today with a true friend and a true friendship between the United States and Australia.
And I am confident that in the days ahead, I have faith that our relationship will only grow stronger, our historic alliance will benefit the people of our country and yours. And the best days for America and Australia are yet to come.
Thank you. God bless you all. God bless Australia. And God bless the United States of America. (Applause.)