Page 916 - Week 03 - Thursday, 22 March 2018

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Ministerial delegation to Washington DC

Ministerial statement

MR BARR (Kurrajong—Chief Minister, Treasurer, Minister for Economic Development and Minister for Tourism and Major Events) (10.51): It gives me great pleasure to report to the Assembly on my visit to Washington DC last month. The importance of the relationship between Australia and the United States was reaffirmed during this visit in a meeting of both national and subnational leaders from each nation. This year, 2018, marks 100 years since Australian and US military forces first cooperated on the battlefields of the Western Front, during the First World War. The Australian Ambassador to the United States, Mr Hockey, in his unique style, branded the occasion “100 years of mateship”.

The United States of America remains Australia’s leading source of foreign investment, valued at $860.3 billion in 2016, with US majority-owned companies employing around 310,000 Australians across all sectors. This represents the United States’ largest investment in the Asia-Pacific region and is $345 billion more than that of the next closest investor, Great Britain, and, interestingly, 10 times greater than that of China.

Strong and consistent diplomatic engagement at all levels is essential in maintaining this vital economic partnership, valued friendship and important alliance. The United States, and in particular Washington DC, with its governance and knowledge industry similarities to Canberra, is also identified as a priority market for the ACT, as outlined in our international engagement strategy.

The invitation to attend the United States equivalent of COAG, the National Governors Association, for their winter session, along with the Prime Minister and other state and territory leaders, presented an unprecedented opportunity to engage with the most senior members of US government and business to further raise awareness of Canberra as a great place to invest, to do business, to visit and to study.

The program offered excellent opportunities to engage not only with national government and business leaders but also with local government, national cultural institutions, peak industry bodies and educational establishments located in the Washington DC area.

The development of the visit program was led by the Commissioner for International Engagement, with significant input from the Australian embassy in Washington, particularly around activities associated with the National Governors Association winter session. Other bilateral meetings were supported by agencies within Enterprise Canberra, Transport Canberra and City Services, the Environment, Planning and Sustainable Development Directorate and the Australian National University.

Over the three-day period from Friday, 23 February to Sunday, 25 February the United States National Governors Association held its 100th winter meeting in DC, the US national capital. More than 40 governors attended the meeting, which focused on how elected officials can partner with other nations to strengthen

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