MR. SCALES: Madam Secretary, Deputy Assistant Secretary Ms. Reed, Mr. Ambassador, Deputy Chief of Mission, Consul General, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, welcome. My name is Bill Scales and I’m chairman of the Port of Melbourne Corporation. It is a great honor to welcome the Secretary of State to the Port of Melbourne.
For over 150 years, the Port of Melbourne has served the state of Victoria as a major hub for maritime trade. This port is the largest container and general cargo port in our country. It handles around 2.3 million containers a year. The Port of Melbourne is amongst the top 60 of the world’s container ports. With the support of our customers, many of course whom are here with us today, our container volumes have consistently grown at around twice the rate of GDP. This suggests that the performance of ports like ours is a key indicator of the health of the international trading environment.
This port enjoys a strong relationship with the United States. We have formal sister and partner port ties with a number of U.S. ports, and the U.S. exporters who use our facilities have been a major contributor to our success. Furthermore, exports from the United States, some of which are showcased here today, have helped to create and develop essential Australian infrastructure, harvest our crops, and in fact underpin Australia’s prosperity.
We are therefore delighted to have the honor of hosting today’s events. It is now my great pleasure to welcome Madam Secretary to address us. Thank you. (Applause.)
SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you very much, Mr. Scales, and I feel very fortunate to see this port for myself and all the development that has gone on in it and around it. I also want to acknowledge Ray Doyle, general manager of the American Chamber of Commerce for the state of Victoria. I know we have a number of company representatives from great iconic American companies like Caterpillar and John Deere and Harley-Davidson and GE and I’m sure many others.
I also want to recognize Ambassador Jeffrey Bleich. When the Obama Administration decided that increasing exports would be a central plank of our economic recovery, the ambassador didn’t just heed the call, he led the charge. And we’re very grateful to him.
This is exciting because trade is really part of the heartbeat of our relationship and we have seen so much progress in the last years since the passage of the Free Trade Act. These products that I just quickly looked at – tractors, turbines, scanners, motorcycles – are creating jobs in America. And I’ve said it before but it bears repeating: American foreign policy must produce results for the American people. We need policies that deliver real benefits for farmers and shopkeepers in the developing world, for young Australians like the ones I spoke with at the university this morning and for millions of our fellow Americans still hurting after a tough recession.
This has been a guiding principle of my time as Secretary of State and I spend a lot of that time on commercial diplomacy. It’s why I believe events like this can be a valuable part of getting the message across. Because done right, free trade and open markets are powerful tools to improve living standards far and wide. They do create new jobs. They do open up new economic opportunities, raise standards of living, and lead to the kind of win-win solutions that bring people and countries closer together.
Now, of course, Australia and the United States, were already very close allies. They have been for 70 years. But ever since we signed the U.S.-Australia Free Trade Agreement, our deepening economic ties have added an important new dimension to our already strong relationship. And the numbers tell a powerful story. Since 2005, Australia has raced past countries many times its size to become the world’s 14th largest importer of American goods. Our exports to Australia are up 40 percent. And we are not just talking about our big well-known companies, but many others who are small and medium size. And all those sales translate into jobs in communities across America, jobs assembling the products we export, jobs selling them, and even jobs shipping them here to Australia.
Now, Americans are not the only ones being put to work: 325,000 Australians are now employed by American companies. America has become Australia’s third largest trading partner and single largest direct investor. The Port of Melbourne alone, which is the busiest port, as Mr. Scales said, in Australia, is handling 100,000 containers of American goods every year.
Now, we’ve seen how bilateral trade benefits both sides. Our challenge now is to broaden those benefits. That means we have to look for even more opportunities to increase trade and investment between us. And it means that we work harder to broaden the benefits of trade even beyond our two countries. Australia is an important partner in negotiating the ambitious new multilateral trade deal called the Trans Pacific Partnership. Over time, we hope to deliver a groundbreaking agreement that connects countries as diverse as Peru and Vietnam with America and Australia to create a new free trade zone that can galvanize commerce, competition, and growth across the entire Pacific region.
This outreach is a part of a global commitment. President Obama has launched a major national export initiative with the goal of doubling America’s exports by 2015, and the State Department is working hard to do our part to help reach this ambitious goal. Helping businesses small and large to find overseas markets is a very important part of the work that our embassies and our consulates do every single day. It’s also an important part of putting Americans back to work.
So I want to thank all of you who are part of this trade relationship. Thank you for being here. Thank you for strengthening the economic ties between the United States and Australia. You are adding a new spark to an old friendship, and we’re seeing it in the results for people – in jobs gained and in opportunities increased. I think the companies represented here and this port and everyone associated with this trading relationship are on the front lines not only of America’s economic recovery but the global economic recovery as well.
So I thank you for that. It is very exciting for me to finally be in this city and to see a little bit of it as I travel from place to place. I am not an expert in ports, but I’m fascinated by them. And I look out the window and I see all the busy activity that’s going on out there, and I know that with this kind of close cooperation between our two countries, we will go from strength to strength. And for that, we are very grateful. Thank you all very much. (Applause.)