Just days after withdrawing from the Trans-Pacific Partnership, President Trump has reached out to declare “the United States has no better friend than Australia”.
The message, delivered on behalf of the president by Acting Secretary of State Thomas Shannon Jr, expressed gratitude for their Pacific ally’s continued cooperation with America, and congratulated Australia on the anniversary.
“It is my honor to congratulate the people of Australia as you celebrate this Australia Day, 229 years after the arrival of the First Fleet at Sydney Harbor,” it read.
“It has been over 75 years since your commonwealth and the United States established diplomatic relations, but connections between America and Australia reach back to that fleet.”
The statement also reflected on Australia’s long history of trade and tourism with the US.
“Today, Australia and the United States are top trade and investment partners, with $65 billion in goods and services flowing between us each year.
The United States is responsible for over a quarter of all foreign direct investment in Australia and we are the top destination for Australian investment abroad.”
The Los Angeles Times revealed on Wednesday that Trump, in tightening up America’s borders, is considering ending the visa waiver program that allows Australians, New Zealanders and citizens of 36 other nations, including many close allies in Europe, to easily visit the US on 90-day tourist visas.
Shannon Jr, however, talked up in Thursday’s Australia Day message the ease with Australians and Americans can travel to each country.
“Today, travel is easier, and we are honoured to host almost 1.5 million Australians in the United States each year, with over 200,000 Australians here on any given day,” he said.
Trump on Monday withdrew from the Trans-Pacific Partnership trading deal which Australia was a signatory to, in a move Republican Senator John McCain described as a “serious mistake”.
“I wish all of your people a blessed Australia Day, and continued prosperity and peace in 2017,” the statement ended.
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