Co-authored by Julie Bishop and David Johnston
The rise of Asia -- the world's fastest growing economic zone, with a burgeoning middle class -- is changing the world. Growing people-to-people links and technological advances are expanding the region's influence.
We met in Sydney for the 29th annual AUSMIN to sign a landmark agreement between our governments that will provide a policy and legal framework, as well as cost-sharing principles, to support the continued implementation of US force posture initiatives, and to discuss new opportunities for cooperation.
The US has been central to the region's success and Australia strongly supports the US's diverse, multi-dimensional engagement. Strong Australia-US ties are an important pillar of this engagement.
Our economic relationship is deep, with high levels of cross-investment and vigorous bilateral trade, underpinned by the Australia-US Free Trade Agreement. We'll redouble our efforts to conclude a high-quality, comprehensive Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement. This will allow regional economic integration on a greater scale, bringing down the barriers to trade which impede free exchange and enterprise. As we look ahead to the G20 leaders' summit in Australia in November, we're working together to ensure it delivers tangible outcomes that create jobs and strong, sustainable and balanced global growth.
Our active participation in multilateral regional forums and the US force posture initiatives in Australia will deepen our relationship. In particular, the rotation of US marines in Darwin and the increase of US Air Force aircraft represent the next chapter of defense cooperation. These initiatives will provide new opportunities to exercise our inter-operability, coordinate responses to humanitarian and disaster relief, and partner with other countries in the region.
The alliance makes an enormous contribution to Australia's security through participation in joint training and exercises, strengthening disaster response and humanitarian assistance capabilities throughout the region, and access to cutting-edge defense technology.
We work closely with ASEAN to promote new models of cooperation, frank dialogue and practical collaboration on challenges such as maritime security and non-proliferation to reinforce international norms and ensure a fair playing field for all. As the region's premier leadership forum, the East Asia Summit has a vital role in setting a strategic vision for the region.
We support the strong role the ASEAN Defense Ministers' Meeting-Plus plays in fostering military cooperation, which informs our efforts with other allies and partners in the region. Strengthening engagement in APEC, the ASEAN Regional Forum, and the Pacific Islands Forum's Post-Forum Dialogue and other regional forums remains central to our efforts.
We are collaborating on innovative ways to foster sustainable development, reduce poverty and raise the status of women and girls through the Equal Futures Partnership, APEC and ASEAN. Empowering women and girls and advancing gender equality is crucial to the economic and political success of the region. We are boosting women's access to financial services, reducing gender-based violence and encouraging female entrepreneurs by providing business development resources. Our Australian-American Fulbright program is an example of our multifaceted relationship, strengthened by public and private collaboration.
Since the dawn of the 20th century, Australia and the US have stood together with a shared vision for a free, peaceful and prosperous world. Today we reaffirm our confidence that the relationship will continue to be a force for good in the Asia-Pacific and Indian Ocean regions, and the world.
John Kerry is US Secretary of State and Chuck Hagel is US Secretary of Defense. Julie Bishop is Australia's Foreign Minister and David Johnston is Australia's Defense Minister.