The best case scenario is that talk of an increased Australia-US bilateral relationship was merely disguised by the announcement and subsequent media focus almost purely on the military build-up and the ceremonial proceedings since yesterday evening.
Yes, the recently accelerated talks of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) which occurred at APEC are indeed a positive move for both Australia and the United States of America, but they do not provide an immediate or even semi-immediate and bilateral boost to the business relationship our nations share.
Indeed, the only concrete talk I have heard of an increased business relationship on a bilateral level during the trip so far has been in the prism of the TPP and in the business of military. There has been little talk, except in relation to the TPP of the US and Australia respectively opening up our markets to each other, particularly how, when and in what specific areas. Don’t get me wrong, multilateral relationships are good in economic and foreign policy, but immediate bilateral focus could be more mutually beneficial in the short to medium term.
For example, there is a great deal of scope to look at the opening up of the US market further, in part for our quality cattle and just as importantly, some of our most significant crops. Some of these have been either effectively or completely shut out of the American market, even under the Australia-US Free Trade Agreement. These are however areas which appear likely to benefit in the future if the TPP does effectively what is being promised by the powerful leaders of APEC.
Mark my words, this visit has so far been a successful and very productive one as far as our personal and military co-operation . What I am saying is that we should have been hearing more specifics about a deepening Australia-US economic relationship to be coupled with our military and diplomatic friendship which has continuously been built upon since the ANZUS agreement was signed 60 years ago. The Free Trade Agreement we have with the US is a good start and needs to be built upon and our two nations need to look at opening up new and emerging markets as well as those well established and of immense importance to our respective nations.