Gov. Abbott hosts Australian leaders for BBQ and business

State & Regional

AUSTIN (Nexstar) — As the United States celebrates a century as an ally with Australia, Texas leaders celebrated with Australian officials at a barbecue lunch at the Governor’s Mansion.

Gov. Greg Abbott met with Australian Ambassador to the United States, Joe Hockey, and other current and former leaders of Australia, for discussions about trade, business partnerships and the relationships between both governments.

“Texas today ranks number three in the United States in exports to Australia,” Abbott told attendees, which included Texas lawmakers. “Members of the legislature know our top priority is to make sure Texas elevates ourselves to our traditional ranking is being number one in exports to Australia, so we have our work cut out for us but we are willing to put in the work.”

The lunch spread featured Australian spins on Texas BBQ — like Vegemite burnt ends and Australian pulled lamb.

During the Ambassador’s Texas visit, he signed a memorandum of understanding with officials at Texas A&M to promote research and agricultural partnerships between Texas and Australia, which he said will ensure strong food and water security and international development.

“That memorandum of understanding is going to mean that you’re going to have more research between Texas and Australia in areas like agriculture,” Ambassador Hockey told reporters at the reception. “Combined, Texas and Australia can feed the world and it’s just about making sure that we were closer together.”

“It’s also the case that we’ve got to get the security arrangements right,” Hockey explained, when asked about being global allies and economic growth. “We need to protect our citizens against potential terrorists, be it tragically here in Texas or in Australia. The threat of terrorism is real and that’s why Australians and Texans have fought side-by-side against bad forces for more than 100 years and we will continue to do it.”

Regarding trade talks between America and China, Hockey said he hopes for “a resolution.”

“We can’t have the two biggest economies in the world having a trade war because everyone loses,” he stated. “But what we’ve got to do is make sure that everyone plays by the rules and if the United States plays by the rules, if Australia plays by the rules, we expect China to play by the rules as well and so much of the current negotiations is focusing on everyone playing by the rules.”

Abbott did not answer reporter questions at the reception. The event, dubbed the “Great Mates Australia-Texas Barbecue,” was sponsored by the Australian consulate of Houston.

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