US President Donald J. Trump issued an Australia Day message, celebrating ties between Australia and the United States as he moves to end two of the most beneficial agreements between the two countries.
Acting US Secretary of State Thomas Shannon Jr conveyed the message on behalf of the president at the end of his first week in office.
“On behalf of President Trump and the American people, it is my honour to congratulate the people of Australia as you celebrate this Australia Day, 229 years after the arrival of the First Fleet at Sydney Harbour,” Mr Shannon said in a statement.
“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 message went on to highlight the fact that so many Australians visit the United States with ease and even live and work in the country, despite reports this week that the Trump administration may soon move to end the current US visa-waiver program under which Australians and citizens of 36 other nations are able to enter the country without a visa.
“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,” the statement read.
“Half a million Americans are fortunate enough to visit your land each year.”
The statement also highlighted the close trading relationship between Australia and the US, just days after President Trump issued an executive order excluding the US from the new Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal, effectively scuppering the long negotiated multi-national arrangement.
“Today, Australia and the United States are top trade and investment partners, with $US65 billion ($86 billion) in goods and services flowing between us each year,” it read.
“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 president’s message went on to celebrate the two nations’ scientific and defence ties.
“Our cooperation is deep and comprehensive: from space exploration to protecting the world’s oceans to collaborating in the search for a cure for cancer,” it read.
“The United States has no better friend than Australia, and our longstanding alliance is a force for stability and prosperity in the Asia-Pacific region and around the globe.
“I wish all of your people a blessed Australia Day, and continued prosperity and peace in 2017.”
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