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Trumping trade: understanding the Australia-United States economic relationship

International relations International trade Foreign trade and employment Foreign investment Australia United States of America


A key element of Australia’s debate on national security issues has been a notion of forced choice between an old ally and a new major trading partner. This is particularly so when strategic choices might produce economic

The dominant characters of the Australia-China trade relationship and the Australia - US strategic relationship often conceal the large and growing importance of Australia’s deep and comprehensive economic relationship
with the United States of America. The integrated character of this relationship necessitates understanding and navigation of more complex interactions than simply trade versus security relationships.

The administration of US President Trump is implementing major changes to key policies, including on trade, investment, security and geo-strategic posture. Australia’s alliance relationship with the United States is facing uncertainties and potential headwinds. The policies of the Trump administration pose more questions than a sharpening of the divide over the question of Australia’s relationships with the United States and China. 

President Trump’s policies have the capacity for major impact for good and ill: potentially good for the pattern of Australian investment in the United States; more complicating for American investment in Australia; and uncertain around trade in goods and services.

The full complexity of Australia – United States relationships is not widely recognised in discussions in the media, amongst commentators and in government. This publication discusses the comprehensive Australia – United States economic relationship and underline the critical need for closer understanding of the complex interactions.

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