“One of the highlights of 2019 for this presidency was the official visit and state dinner with Prime Minister Scott Morrison in September,” Mulvaney said.
“The President still talks about it. The first lady still talks about it. The whole town still talks about it and what a positive experience it was.
“I know Australia is interested in reciprocating and that we’re interested in getting there as soon as we possibly can.”
It is highly unlikely the President would be able to travel to Australia this year given the presidential election in November.
Mulvaney said that Australia would be a big beneficiary of the “phase one” trade deal announced by the US and China this week.
“Any time that the two largest economies in the world are working together productively, the benefits of that rebound worldwide,” he said.
That includes, “to countries like Australia that are so closely linked to the Chinese economy and provide raw materials to China.”
“Does that mean everything is finished in terms of fixing our relationship with China? No. Will there be ongoing discussions? Obviously.”
The US has maintained tariffs on a majority of Chinese imports and the Chinese government has yet to agree to America’s demands to reform the way state-owned enterprises operate.
Mulvaney said it was “certainly possible” the two countries could strike a “phase two” agreement addressing these issues before the November election.
On Friday night in Washington (Saturday Australian time) Mulvaney will speak at a farewell event for Australia’s ambassador to the US Joe Hockey.
The two have become close friends during Hockey’s tenure in Washington, and have both played golf alongside Trump.
Mulvaney said Hockey’s advocacy had been crucial in the Trump administration’s decision to grant Australia a rare exemption from steel and aluminium tariffs.
“Other diplomats can be very formal, a bit distant,” he said. “Joe is not a professional diplomat. He interacts with politicians as one of them and they respond to that.”
Matthew Knott is North America correspondent for The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age.
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