Australian British Chamber of Commerce
JULIE BISHOP: Thank you for that delightful introductionand thank you to the sponsors. I am absolutely delighted to be here to addressthe Australian British Chamber of Commerce and I acknowledge the BritishConsul-General, friends of Australia, friends of Britain.
What a weekit has been in international affairs!
We startedwith the G7 meeting in Quebec. Now, these are our closest friends and partners.It was the G8 and it now risks becoming the G6 with the US joining Russia inthe sin bin. Then the United States blamed Canada for burning down the WhiteHouse - admittedly it was in 1812, and it was actually the British. Then theUnited States and Canada almost came to blows over tariffs on dairy productsand this caused such a backlash amongst some Americans that there's been anoutpouring of love for Canada on US social media, and they're talking aboutthose wonderful Canadian imports, Celine Dion, maple syrup, ice hockey.
And then, a UStrade representative said that there was a special place in hell for JustinTrudeau, while President Trump said he had a special bond with Kim Jong-un aka,the little rocket man. With the US fighting Canada and making friends withNorth Korea, who can make sense of what's going on?
And whatabout that summit in Singapore? It was an extraordinary event by any measure. Iwas glued to the TV for 24, 36 hours, and after a while I became quitemesmerised by the contrasting hairstyles of the two leaders.
And then Istarted hallucinating - do you think the third most recognisable political hairin the world had something to do with this? After all, Britain is one of a fewwestern countries that has an embassy in Pyongyang. Did I detect the deft handof Boris Johnson in bringing together this budding bromance?
I have toadmit to this audience - and it won't go outside this room, will it? - that myfavourite Foreign Minister of all time is Boris Johnson and it's not justbecause he's a running partner, but he also has a delicious sense of humour.Boris himself tells a story that when Theresa May became Prime Minister, shewas handed a list of potential appointments to her Cabinet and she was asked tomark her preferences, Phillip Hammond - Chancellor of the Exchequer, Liam Fox -Trade Secretary. Down the list, Boris Johnson - she put: "FFS". Somepeople thought she meant: "For Foreign Secretary".
Boris doeshave an infectious enthusiasm for the relationship between Australia and theUnited Kingdom. Few countries, particularly not two countries that are 16,000kmapart, can claim to be as close as Australia and Britain.
We have ashared history, a shared monarch, a shared language. Our cultural,institutional, government, diplomatic, security and trade and investment, and (Iwas going to say sporting, but don't mention the cricket), sporting ties aredeep and unbreakable. In fact, in the latest Census, it shows that Australiansclaiming British ancestry is the largest identity group in our Census. Indeed,a number of our politicians have recently learned that they are British totheir boot straps.
This year,also marks the centenary of the end of World War I when Australian and Britishtroops fought side-by-side in the War to End all Wars - and this began a mostremarkable relationship in defence, security and intelligence that endures tothis day.
It is also the centenary this year of theestablishment of Australia House on the Strand in London. That magnificentlandmark was Australia's first overseas mission and today it is the longestcontinuously occupied, diplomatic building of any country in the UnitedKingdom.
If youhaven't been there, you will probably recognise the glorious marble interior fromthe Harry Potter films because it features as Gringotts, the wizard's bank.
David and Iwere in London in April and we were at Australia House for the launch of theInvictus Games in Sydney this October with Prince Harry and Megan - such alovely couple. You couldn't help but be struck by the magnificence of AustraliaHouse, remembering that it was constructed throughout the war years, it openedin 1918. At the time, Australia was a country of less than 5 million people,our economy was about a 10th size of Britain's, yet we invested at that time Â£1 million, which in today's currency would be about $100 million,in building a mission in London. Such was the importance that we placed on ourrelationship with Great Britain.
Today, ofcourse, Britain is the fifth largest economy in the world and Australia is the13th, we are about half the size of Britain's economy now. It isimportant to think of the depth of our trade and investment relationship afterall these years. We have a two-way investment relationship, $480 billion worth ofBritish stock in Australia, about $330 billion worth of Australian stock inBritain. Britain is our second largest investor, after the United States. Manymajor British companies are in Australia, BP for example, Astra Zeneca. Manyimportant Australian companies are in Britain - our four big banks, MacquarieBank, Westfield, are all situated in London.
The Anglo-Australianmining companies, Rio Tinto, BHP Biliton, are all global multinationals.Without doubt, the Australia-UK trading relationship is strong. The UK is ourseventh largest trading partner and about three quarters of a million Britishtourists come to Australia every year, a comparable number of Australiantourists go to Britain each year. We sent you Kylie Minogue and apparently GordanRamsay has threatened to retire to Australia. So that's a fair swap.
I think,that notwithstanding, the depth and breadth of our relationship, we will see arenaissance, we will see a renewed interest in Australia and Britain aspartners around the world.
We are bothopen, liberal democracies committed to freedoms and the rule of law anddemocratic institutions. We are open export-oriented market economies. Oureconomic growth and our standard of living depends on our ability to trade ourgoods and services, in the case of the UK, into the EU, in the case ofAustralia, primarily into Asia.
We are bothdefenders and upholders of the international rules-based order - that networkof alliances, treaties, institutions, conventions and norms underpinned byinternational law that has governed how states act and how states should behavetowards each other since the end of the Second World War.
Thatinternational rules based order is coming under increasing strain. It is beingchallenged by some nations, it is being ignored by others. Non-state actors arethreatening its existence. This international rules-based order is alsosuffering from a rise in protectionism and economic nationalism, the changingdynamics between the major powers in the world and a sense that the sovereigntyof nations and the territorial integrity of nations can be at risk.
It is asimportant now as it ever has been for Australia and the United Kingdom, togetherwith like-minded countries to join in supporting, defending, promoting andstrengthening that international rules-based order. It has prevented a thirdglobal conflict. We have seen the greatest rise of prosperity in human historyin just the last 70 years.
Brexitpresents an extraordinary opportunity for Australia to deepen even further ourtrade and investment relationship with Britain. This will be a huge opportunityfor Australian business in Britain and British businesses in Australia. We arehoping to commence negotiations for a free trade agreement with the UK as soonas the UK is able after exiting from the EU. We are ambitious. We are lookingfor a comprehensive, high quality free trade agreement that will reduce costsfor businesses, that will, through high-quality rules, reduce complexity. Itwill be of great benefit to our respective business communities.
Our twoGovernments have already established a free trade agreement working group andour officials met in Canberra in April and will meet again in London in Julyand I know that we are working closely with the Australia-British Chamber ofCommerce to identify potential opportunities.
If we areable to conclude a free trade agreement with the EU and Cecilia MalmstrÃ¶m, theEU Trade Commissioner, is coming to Australia next week to commence formalnegotiations, and then in time we are able to conclude a free trade agreementwith the UK, this will send a very powerful message around the world in supportof free and open liberalised trade and investment.
Australiahas a very ambitious trade agenda. We have concluded free trade agreements, asyou'll be aware, with China, Japan, Korea. We are in the process of concludingan agreement with Indonesia. We are hoping to conclude RCEP, the RegionalComprehensive Economic Partnership, with the ten ASEAN countries and six othertrading partners.
And ofcourse, against the odds, we concluded the Trans Pacific Partnership, theTPP-11, which was to be the TPP-12 but now 11. I know the United Kingdom hasexpressed interest in joining it, not being a Pacific country but we are notbeing too particular about geography. It is a high quality agreement and wewould certainly welcome the UK.
In Aprilthis year the United Kingdom hosted the Commonwealth Heads of Governmentmeeting, coming as it did, after the success of the Commonwealth Games here inAustralia. The Queen met with the 53 Heads of Government from the 53Commonwealth nations.
It isremarkable organisation. Countries that were originally connected through beingpart of the British Empire are now bound by their commitment to a common set ofvalues: democracy, freedom, rule of law, support for the internationalrules-based system. Countries that had no previous history with the UnitedKingdom are joining and seeking to join the Commonwealth.
I think wewill see a renewed interest in the Commonwealth as it becomes a significantforce for good around the world, given that its membership covers all thecontinents with country members from all around the world.
At ourmeeting in April, and perhaps a number of you were at the Commonwealth BusinessForum, we discussed trade and investment and the opportunities for us to havecloser engagement within and amongst the Commonwealth countries.
We adopted aCommonwealth Trade and Investment Declaration - again, a statement in supportof free and open trade. There was also another initiative that I am reallyexcited about. It will be a joint venture between the United Kingdom andAustralia, our Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and the UK's Departmentof International Development. It will address the fact that worldwide there areabout a billion people who have no official identification - no birthcertificate, no credit card, no licence. It makes it near on impossible forthem to gain an education, a job, healthcare. We are teaming up with Telcosaround the world to undertake the Commonwealth Digital Identification Initiative.Through this we will be able to provide people around the world with anofficial identification. Two thirds of that billion people who don't have thisidentification are in Commonwealth countries. This initiative will make a majordifference to the lives of so many of our fellow Commonwealth citizens.
One otherexciting initiative that came from our discussions in CHOGM was the fact thatthe United Kingdom is showing a renewed commitment to the Pacific. There areabout 11 Pacific nations that are members of the Commonwealth and whileAustralia sees the Pacific as our responsibility, it's our neighbourhood, itsour region, and we are the largest aid donor into the Pacific, no one countrycan meet the needs, particularly the infrastructure needs of the Pacific, as weseek to ensure that it is a prosperous and peaceful part of the world.
We work witha range of partners in the Pacific, with the individual island countries butalso the United States, China, Japan and New Zealand. Britain has nowrecommitted to the Pacific to work in partnership with us. It is anincreasingly contested, congested space and I look forward to developing ourpartnership. And I was delighted that Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson alsoannounced at the CHOGM meeting that Britain will be opening three new diplomaticposts in the Pacific, Samoa, in Tonga and in Vanuatu.
Later nextmonth I will be travelling to London for the tenth annual AUKMIN, the AustraliaUK Ministerial Forum. At this event, it's called a '2 + 2', foreign secretariesand defence secretaries from Australia and the UK meet together with ourdefence, and security intelligence chiefs and we discuss a whole range ofissues of how we can work more closely together in partnership, how we can addressregional issues and how we can make a difference globally.
This is amost remarkable relationship. As Britain is preparing to exit the EU itpresents a once-in-a-generation opportunity for Australia and Britain toleverage this extraordinary relationship that will do much for the benefit ofthe citizens in both our countries.