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NEWS | June 13, 2014

Fact Sheet: The United States and Australia: An Alliance for the Future

By Office of the Press Secretary

The U.S.-Australia alliance is based on a long tradition of cooperation at all levels of government, business, and society.  Building on that tradition, President Obama welcomed Prime Minister Abbott to the White House today and committed to expand and deepen collaboration between the United States and Australia. 

Security and Defense Cooperation

The United States views its alliance with Australia as an anchor of peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific region and beyond.  We will work with Australia to sustain a stable security environment and regional order rooted in economic openness, respect for international law and norms, peaceful resolution of disputes, and respect for universal rights and freedoms.

After their meeting, the President and Prime Minister Abbott announced the conclusion of the U.S.-Australian Force Posture Agreement, which will deepen our long-standing defense cooperation.  Through the Force Posture Agreement, U.S. forces will have more opportunities to work with Australian forces both bilaterally and in trilateral and regional activities.  Potential areas where defense cooperation could be enhanced include maritime capacity building, and humanitarian assistance/disaster relief.

The United States and Australia are also working to strengthen cooperation on space and cyber issues, including cyber defense and cyber security incident response.  We are also working to explore opportunities to expand cooperation on ballistic missile defense, including working together to identify potential Australian contributions to ballistic missile defense in the Asia-Pacific region.

In the Asia-Pacific region, our two countries are working with regional institutions, such as the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), the ASEAN Regional Forum, the East Asia Summit, and the Pacific Islands Forum, to promote regional rules and norms and facilitate cooperation in addressing shared economic and security challenges. 

Regarding maritime disputes, the United States and Australia share an abiding interest in peaceful resolution of disputes; respect for international law and unimpeded lawful commerce; and preserving freedom of navigation and overflight. Both countries oppose the use of intimidation, coercion, or force to advance maritime claims in the East and South China Seas.  The United States and Australia have both called on claimants to clarify and pursue claims in accordance with international law, including the Law of the Sea Convention, and expressed support for the rights of claimants to seek peaceful resolution of disputes through legal mechanisms, including arbitration, under the Convention.  Both countries continue to call for ASEAN and China to reach early agreement on a meaningful Code of Conduct in the South China Sea.

In Afghanistan, where the United States and Australia have fought side-by-side, both countries have demonstrated firm commitment to helping the people of Afghanistan build their country in the coming years while also supporting Afghan forces in their counterterrorism operations.

In response to Russia’s illegal occupation and annexation of Crimea, both the United States and Australia have imposed targeted financial sanctions and travel bans and will continue supporting the aspirations of the people of Ukraine for an independent, prosperous and democratic future.

The United States welcomes the strong cooperation of Australia in ensuring peace and security – bilaterally, in regional bodies, and through the United Nations - to confront international challenges, including those arising from the conflict in Syria and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. 

The United States and Australia are working together with other international stakeholders to aid Fiji in its return to democracy through elections in September.  Both of our countries are collaborating with Pacific Island countries to promote sustainable development in the region.   

Economic Growth and Prosperity

The United States and Australia have both benefited from an economic relationship characterized by open and transparent trade and investment ties.  The United States remains the largest foreign investor in Australia, accounting for over a quarter of all foreign investment.  Our two countries also work closely in multilateral institutions such as APEC to promote sustainable growth and shared prosperity in the region.

The United States and Australia are working to liberalize trade and investment in the region, strengthen economic ties, and complete the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement, which will promote economic growth and job creation in both countries and raise the standards for commerce within the region.

The President welcomed Australia’s leadership as chair of the G-20 and looks forward to efforts at the G-20 that further strengthens and grows the global economy.  A vital aspect of economic growth is promoting greater gender equality.  The United States and Australia are working together to enhance women’s political and economic participation.  As founding members of the Equal Futures Partnership, our two nations are collaborating to improve economic opportunities for women and increase women’s involvement in leadership positions in civic and economic life. 

The United States and Australia recognize the pressing need to address climate change, a serious issue that requires a strong and effective international response.  The United States will continue working with Australia to advance clean energy and energy efficiency solutions, including in the context of the G-20.

Innovation and Science Cooperation

Innovation and science are fundamental to both our economies.  U.S.-Australia innovation cooperation will strengthen our work on cutting edge issues, ranging from neuroscience to clean energy to information technology and bio-preparedness. 

  • The U.S. National Renewable Energy Laboratory, together with Australian National University and the University of New South Wales, plan to enhance their collaboration by sharing knowledge and best practices on photovoltaics in our ongoing efforts to meet an increased energy demand with a focus on clean energy. 
  • The U.S. National Institutes of Health intends to award Monash University in Australia and a U.S. partner university nearly $10 million in the fight against superbugs and the crucial study of antibiotic resistance. 
  • The U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and Australia’s Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization, alongside the Global Ocean Acidification Observing Network, continue to document and study ocean acidification and project its impact on conservation, food security, and tourism.
  • U.S. and Australian scientists continue important neuroscience research collaboration, which supports the U.S. BRAIN Initiative.
  • Over the next few years, Australia intends to increase the number of U.S. National Science Foundation fellows hosted by Australia to work on research projects that foster international scientific cooperation and expose U.S. graduate students to Australia’s unique culture, vision, and science systems. 
  • Building on last year’s G-20 commitment to implement the World Health Organization International Health Regulations, the United States and Australia support the Global Health Security Agenda (GHSA) to accelerate measureable progress towards a world safe and secure from infectious disease threats.  

People-to-People Ties

The United States and Australia share strong cultural and people-to-people ties. 

One of the very first treaties between our two nations laid the foundation for the Australian-American Fulbright Commission.  Each year, Fulbright offers approximately 50 scholarships to Australian and American citizens to study and undertake research in each other’s country.  The Fulbright program now boasts close to 5,000 alumni who form a network of professionals in all fields promoting bilateral, regional, and global collaboration. 

The United States and Australia form a partnership that is key to the future of both countries and peace and prosperity around the globe.


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