Doorstop - Los Angeles, United States

  • Transcript, E&OE
26 January 2017

JULIEBISHOP: I am delighted to be in the United States for the G'Day USAevents. This is the largest publicdiplomacy initiative undertaken by any nation in the United States and it's anopportunity for us not only to showcase the best of Australia to one of themost remarkable market places in the world but also an opportunity to broadenand strengthen and deepen this already strong relationship.

Today I gave the keynote address at a US-Australia Dialogue and Iemphasised the importance of our region to US interests and to Australia'sinterests and the opportunities for Australia and United States to continue towork to promote peace, prosperity, security and stability in our part of theworld.

I also had the opportunity this afternoon to take a call from VicePresident Mike Pence and it was a very warm and engaging discussion about awhole range of issues and we spoke about opportunities for an early meetingwith the Vice President and also with other counterparts in the new TrumpAdministration and it was a very positive and genuine discussion. I certainlylook forward to working with Vice President Pence and other members of theTrump Administration.

JOURNALIST: Did you raise anything about the visa waiverscheme?

JULIEBISHOP: We had a discussion about awhole range of issues but it was our first contact so I won't go into thedetails of the specific issues we discussed, but we spoke about a range ofglobal and regional challenges that the United State and Australia both faceand we spoke about a number of bilateral issues as well.

JOURNALIST: Is the refugee swap agreed to in Novembergoing to go ahead and have you discussed this with the new Administration?

JULIEBISHOP: I've had a number ofdiscussions with members of the Administration and most certainly we'vediscussed a range of bilateral issues. Iwon't go into the details but I have discussed many issues with the incomingAdministration.

JOURNALIST: Do you have confidence that deal will goahead?

JULIEBISHOP: I believe that the UnitedStates and Australia will continue to work together to assist each other inimplementing our strong border protection policies.

JOURNALIST: Are you concerned Australians might face amore difficult time to get access to the US?

JULIEBISHOP: We will certainly be working very closely with the United States toensure that Australians continue to have access to the United States asAmericans have access to Australia. Weare two very like-minded countries. Infact, there are few countries that have a relationship as close as that of theUnited States and Australia and we will continue to work together to broadenand strengthen and deepen this very strong relationship.

JOURNALIST: What do you think of the President's decisionto build a wall and charge Mexico a twenty percent tax?

JULIEBISHOP: The President is givingsupport to the policies that he took to the last election. It's early days of the new Administration andI'm not going to give a running commentary on every policy position that theUnited States Administration now announces, but we most certainly will bewatching the policies very closely as they are announced and we'll continue toensure that we act in Australia's national interest when it comes to ourrelationship with the United States.

JOURNALIST: Minister, is there any concern that the newAdministration could tear up the FTA, the current FTA and tax Australianexports?

JULIEBISHOP: The Australia-US Free TradeAgreement works very much in the US favour in the sense that there is asignificant trade surplus. We have atrade deficit with the United States and there certainly has been no indicationat all that the Administration is looking to renegotiate the Australia-US FreeTrade Agreement. It has benefited bothnations enormously over the last decade and particularly for Australia in termsof government procurement contracts, the ease of young people gaining access tothe United States, educational opportunities, so the Australia-US Free TradeAgreement has served both nations well.

JOURNALIST: Is Australia concerned that they could get atwenty percent tax on imports – that the US might put that on?

JULIEBISHOP: This is not a matter that hasbeen raised in any discussions we have had with the new Trump Administration.

JOURNALIST: But it was said today, it was said during thepress conference that it could be on all countries.

JULIEBISHOP: This is not a discussion that we've had with any member of the newTrump Administration. It is early days – we are obviously listening to thepolicy pronouncements as they are made, but of course the detail will beimportant.

Australia is uniquely placed to discuss matters of importance with theUnited States and we will be working to ensure that the bilateral relationshipcontinues to advance our national interest.

Thank you.

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