Australian PM to Discuss AUKUS and Critical Minerals During US Trip
AUKUS Partnership and Critical Mineral Supply Chains in Focus
Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese is set to visit Washington in the coming week, aiming to make progress on the AUKUS defence technology partnership and critical mineral supply chains. The visit comes as Australia seeks to diversify its trade exposure away from China, a long-term trading partner.
Key Priorities for the US-Australia Alliance
Before his departure, Albanese highlighted the significance of the AUKUS partnership, which involves the transfer of US and British nuclear submarine technology to Australia. He emphasized that this partnership is crucial for the future of the US alliance. Additionally, Albanese hinted at upcoming announcements regarding critical minerals, clean energy transformation, and an economic deal.
Focus on Collaboration in Critical Technologies
Peter Dean, director of foreign policy and defense at the United States Studies Centre in Sydney, suggests that increased collaboration between the US and Australia in critical technologies will likely be a major focus in Washington. This collaboration is expected to yield faster results compared to the ambitious plan of building nuclear-powered submarines in Australia by 2040.
Challenges and Opportunities for AUKUS
The AUKUS partnership faces hurdles in the US Congress and potential delays due to US export controls, which have frustrated Australian officials. The “pillar 2” of AUKUS commits to joint development in areas such as quantum computing, undersea technology, hypersonic technology, artificial intelligence, and cybersecurity.
Clean Energy and Critical Minerals Alignment
In May, Australia and the United States reached an agreement to align their efforts in clean energy and critical minerals. This agreement was made during a meeting between Albanese and US President Joe Biden in Japan. Australia, with its significant deposits of rare earths, is particularly interested in developing its processing industry in this sector.
Importance of Allied Partnerships
With China dominating many critical minerals markets, the US has expressed interest in “friendshoring” its supply chains to allied partners like Australia. The US auto and clean energy sectors are among the largest global markets, and the US Department of Defense is a major buyer of strategic minerals.
Focus on Wikileaks Founder Julian Assange
During his meeting with President Biden, Albanese is also under pressure to raise the case of Julian Assange, the founder of Wikileaks. Some Australian lawmakers have urged US officials to drop efforts to extradite Assange, who is an Australian citizen currently held in Britain.
Addressing AUKUS-Related Concerns
Democratic Congressman Joe Courtney, co-chair of the Friends of Australia Caucus in Congress, believes that Albanese could address concerns related to how Australia protects sensitive technology within the context of AUKUS. He commends the Australian government for making changes to reassure the US State Department and Defense Department regarding the security of technology transfers.
In conclusion, Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese’s visit to Washington will focus on advancing the AUKUS partnership, strengthening critical mineral supply chains, and discussing clean energy collaboration. The trip holds strategic importance for both Australia and the United States as they seek to deepen their alliance and reduce trade dependence on China.