Real estate entrepreneur Donald J. Trump was elected U.S. President at the presidential elections of November 8, 2016. He took office on January 20, 2017. The Republican Party continues to hold the majority in Senate and House of Representatives. Despite this unified government, divisions within the Republican Party, as well as the general political polarization hinder the implementation of important legislative initiatives. On the domestic front, ongoing issues of political debate include economic growth and job creation, immigration as well as the reform of the health care system (“Obamacare”). Current foreign policy issues include the fight against ISIS, the conflicts in the Middle East and North Africa as well as in Ukraine and North Korea. With regard to transatlantic relations, the new U.S. Administration reaffirmed its willingness to cooperate with EU-member states and NATO.
Bilateral Relations between Austria and the United States
Diplomatic relations between Austria and the United States date back to the year 1838. The bilateral relations are excellent. Austria and the United States cooperate on many important foreign policy issues, in particular in the multilateral area such as the promotion of democracy and human rights, disarmament and non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. A regular exchange of views takes place regarding the developments in the Western Balkans and the possibility of dialogue with the Islamic world. The Austrian expertise in peacekeeping missions (in the framework of the United Nations and the EU) is highly appreciated by the United States. Austria and the United States also cooperate in consular and judicial areas, e.g. joint counter-terrorism efforts.
Austria’s numerous efforts in the realm of compensation for victims of N.S. persecution, including forced labor and seizure of private property on the territory of present-day Austria, have been and still are received very positively and are supported actively by the U.S. government.
To strengthen the “people-to-people” contacts, up to 1,000 scholarships for Austrian and U.S. students and apprentices are made available through the “European Recovery Program” (ERP Fund) between 2007 and 2017 as part of an Austrian-U.S. student exchange program. In addition, the “George C. Marshall Visitors Program” has been taking place since 2007. The purpose of this program is to invite U.S. experts to travel to Austria to inform them about various topics such as environmental issues, renewable energy and infrastructure.
In addition to the Embassy of Austria in Washington, D.C., there are two Consulates-General (in New York and Los Angeles) and 28 Honorary Consulates in the United States.
Cultural Relations between Austria and the United States
A vibrant and dynamic cultural exchange takes place between Austria and the United States. Austrian art and artists are permanent guests at some of the most important cultural institutions in the United States. The main focus lies in the interpretation of classical music as well as in fine arts. Outside major US institutions, the Cultural Fora in New York and Washington, D.C. are the most important centers for representation of Austrian culture, especially with a modern and contemporary focus.
Austrian Public Diplomacy in the United States
Austria has been continuously expanding its outreach to Austrian and U.S. media as well as its public diplomacy activities. The latter is accomplished primarily by the publications and information channels of the Austrian Embassy’s Press- and Information Service. The content produced promotes contemporary dialogue with the United States and helps to convey a modern and positive image of Austria to the respective target audiences.
These channels include:
- the publication Austrian Information, in print since 1948,
- the monthly e-mail newsletter Austrian Dispatch,
- the English language portal site www.austria.org, which includes a German language section providing service information for Austrian citizens in and visitors to the United States,
the issue-specific websites
- Jewish News from Austria, which provides an English language audience with recent media reporting from Austrian media and information on Jewish life in Austria,
- Taste of Austria – the Embassy’s culinary pages with information on Austrian culinary heritage, cuisine and recipes
the Embassy’s social media portfolio
Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, as well as Ambassador Waldner’s personal Twitter account.
Office of Science and Technology – OSTA Scientific Cooperation
The Office of Science and Technology Austria - OSTA at the Austrian Embassy in Washington, D.C. provides services for all stakeholders in the areas of Science, Technology, and Innovation. OSTA Washington can plug you into a large network of the brightest Austrian minds in North America, as well as the most relevant STI stakeholders and decision makers in Austria. Managed jointly by the Austrian Federal Ministries BMEIA, BMVIT and BMWFW OSTA Washington is your gateway to this large and vibrant pool of innovation and talent of approximately 3.000 active members in the Austrian Research and Innovation Network Austria – RINA. The annual Austrian Research and Innovation Talk - ARIT organized by the OSTA is the most important meeting for the Austrian STI-community in North America.
Economic Relations between Austria and the United States
The US were the second most important export destination for Austrian goods in 2016, with a volume of exports of EUR 8.7 billion (7% of all Austrian exports), ranking only behind Germany and before Italy. In the same period of time, the USA were Austria’s second most important import partner, with a volume of import of goods of EUR 5 billion. Austrian FDI in the USA in 2016 amounted to around EUR 11 billion and ranks fourth in Austria’s FDI destinations. Austria’s most important export products to the USA include machinery, engines and medical goods.
Canada is a federal parliamentary democracy and a constitutional monarchy. It has ten provinces and three federal territories and is a member of the Commonwealth of Nations. Queen Elizabeth II is the head of state, she is represented by the Governor General who is appointed for a term of five years. The current Governor General is David Johnston (since Oct. 2010). His duties are mainly of representative nature. Since 2006 the government has been led by Prime Minister Stephen Harper (Conservative Party), the party has an absolute majority in the House of Commons since 2011).
The priorities of Prime Minster Harper are economic growth within a balanced budget, creation of jobs and diversification of the economy. Moreover, the government’s long-term priorities include rebuilding the Canadian Forces, improving food and product safety regulations, reducing crime and asserting sovereignty in the Arctic. The Canadian foreign policy focuses on the development and strengthening of economic relationships, security policy and the promotion of democracy. While the US is still Canada’s most important trading partner, Canada also focuses its foreign policy increasingly on the Asian-Pacific and Latin American regions. The cooperation between Canada and the EU will be further enhanced by the Strategic Partnership Agreement and a comprehensive free trade agreement (CETA), the negotiations of which are in their final stages. As a consequence, the relations are expected to considerably intensify on various levels.
Bilateral Relations Austria-Canada
The relationship between Austria and Canada traditionally has been friendly. Austria and Canada share many common interests and have similar positions on global issues. On a multilateral level both states have been working closely together, especially concerning the promotion of human rights and the rule of law. The economic, cultural and “people-to-people” exchanges are manifold and extensive. In addition to the Austrian Cultural Forum in Ottawa, the Wirth Institute for Austrian and Central European Studies at the University of Alberta in Edmonton also regularly presents Austrian art, culture and science. The academic ties are close and continuously enhanced. The Student Work Abroad Program (SWAP) offers young Austrians and Canadians the possibility to work in the other country for up to one year. Currently about 5.000 Austrian citizens and 70.000 “Austrians at heart” live in Canada.
In addition to the Austrian Embassy in Ottawa, there are seven Honorary Consulates (Calgary, Halifax, Montreal, Regina, Toronto, Vancouver and Winnipeg) and an Austrian Trade Commission in Toronto (Advantage Austria) with a branch in Montreal.
Economic Relations Austria-Canada
Canada is an important overseas trading partner for Austria. The bilateral trade amounted to over 1,3 billion Euros. The comprehensive trade agreement between Canada and the EU (CETA) will allow Austrian companies to expand their relationships and seize new business opportunities, especially in the public procurement sector (infrastructure projects). In addition, Austria seeks to widen the share of Austrian companies at the Canadian market, especially in the fields of environmental technology, alternative energy and low energy construction.