Alliance 21: The Australia-United States Partnership


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When: Oct 17 2014 - 10:30am until Oct 17 2014 - 12:00pm
Where: 1819 L St, NW, Washington, DC. Sixth Floor Conference Room

Alliance 21: The Australia-United States Partnership

An Asia Pacific Seminar featuring:

Dr. Bates Gill
Chief Executive Officer, United States Studies Centre, University of Sydney

Dr. Bates Gill discusses the findings of the Alliance 21 report as they relate to the Us-Australia alliance.

In a special briefing on the recently released report Alliance 21: The Australia-United States Partnership, which highlighted the broad array of mutual interests that underpin and sustain the remarkable Australia–US relationship now and in the future, Dr. Bates Gill, CEO of the United States Studies Centre, presented this report and discussed its findings at the East-West Center in Washington.

Dr. Gill prefaced his discussion by pointing out that while many in Australia support the alliance with the United States in terms of military support, they do not fully appreciate the numerous other beneficial aspects that are involved in the alliance. It was thereby the goal of this report to make those aspects known to the Australian public as the alliance must continue to grow and expand following the changes currently happening in Asia. 

In the report, Dr. Gill and his colleagues laid out three aspects of the US-Australia alliance that are often overlooked but deserved special recognition. The first was the bilateral trade relationship. While remaining controversial, the US-Australia Free Trade Agreement (FTA) is largely responsible for the 50% increase in bilateral trade over the past ten years. To date there has been over $1 trillion in bilateral investment and the United States remains the largest investor in Australia; according to Dr. Gill the United States invests 20 times more than China does. As a result, trade with the United States can be shown to have contributed to the current resource boom in Australia. Australia is also one of the largest investors in the United States on a per capita bias. Dr. Gill mentioned a little known fact many Australians retire to the United States and take their money with them. While the bilateral FTA has contributed significantly to growth, the report urges Australia to push the United States to make the compromises necessary to enact the TransPacific Partnership (TPP), which would benefit the region as a whole. 

Defense and security cooperation with the United States is obviously the most well-known aspect of the US-Australia alliance and it remains largely popular among the Australian public. There are however concerns regarding just how much commitment the United States expects of Australia regarding military action in the future. The 2003 Iraq War was highly unpopular domestically and as a result whenever politicians are asked if Australia would side with the United States against China they emphatically state that it will depend on the circumstances rather than outrightly pledging support. There is also the question of burden sharing since the alliance remains largely asymetrical. Dr. Gill discussed the "cost effective" measures that Australia could enact to increase its commitment while being mindful of budget constraints. These included allowing a greater rotational presence of US troops and opening up more ports and airbases as well as sites where intel sharing could take place. These in turn carry their own controversies so it Dr. Gill noted that it would be important to determine if actions were in Australia's national interest first rather than just going ahead with what the United States wanted. 

Finally, Dr. Gill emphasized the need for greater cooperation between the United States and Australia over energy and natural resource security. Not only would this benefit themselves but could also aid the region as a whole, as demand for energy and food keeps increasing. All three aspects of the alliance that the report highlighted demonstrated the need for increased people-to-people ties and the need for more high level meetings on both sides. 

 For more images, please visit the album for this event on the East-West Center's Flickr page. 

Dr. Bates Gill is the Chief Executive Officer of the United States Studies Centre at the University of Sydney. Prior to his position in Sydney, he was Director of the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) (2007-2012), held the Freeman Chair in China Studies at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, and was Senior Fellow in Foreign Policy Studies and the inaugural director of the Center for Northeast Asian Policy Studies at the Brookings Institution. He received his PhD in Foreign Affairs from the University of Virginia.

Primary Contact Info:
Name: Sarah Batiuk
Phone: 202-327-9755