On February 21, Mayor Rahm Emmanuel of Chicago and Lord Mayor Clover Moore of Sydney, Australia, signed a new sister city agreement. Sydney will be Chicago’s 29th sister city, while Chicago will be Sydney’s seventh. The announcement was made on the sidelines of the ‘Women4Climate’ summit in Paris, which both mayors were attending as members of the C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group. They announced their intention to work together on issues such as economic development, the environment, technology, arts, and urban development, “in a spirit of friendship and camaraderie”.
This new formal sister city arrangement further enriches relations between Australia’s most populous city, and one of the largest US urban centers. There exist 65 additional sister city relationships between both countries, with another three located in Illinois and another 28 located in the state of New South Wales.
Sydney and Chicago already share existing links, and are destined to become more closely related in the future. Australia’s consul-general in Chicago, Peter Heyward, stated that the sister relationship will improve not only commercial connections, but “collaboration in all sectors”.
Downtown Chicago is home to the US headquarters of Australia’s largest stock exchange, the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX). The ASX has a market capitalization of $1.86 trillion and over 2,200 listings. Over thirty Australian companies operate in Chicago, and over forty Chicago-area companies operate in Sydney. Two-way trade between Australia and the United States is worth $35 billion, and total trade in services is in excess of $17 billion. There are certainly opportunities for expanded business operations across both cities.
Improved travel connections will foster greater commercial and cultural connections. Australia’s largest airline, Qantas, announced its intention to launch direct flights between Australia and Chicago in the coming years as part of its series of new ultra-long-haul routes, dubbed ‘project sunrise’. Chicago is the Midwest hub of American Airlines, Qantas’s codeshare partner through the ‘Oneworld’ alliance, and similarly, Sydney is Qantas’s main domestic hub in Australia. Linking the two cities with a direct flight will further improve efficient travel between not only the two major cities, but also between other cities in each country.
This new sister city relationship stands as a testament to the strong cultural, economic and people-to-people links between Sydney and Chicago, as well as Australia and the United States. The East-West Center’s Australia Matters for America publication and additional resources outline the extent of the strong bilateral relationship, which has existed for over a century.
Alex McKenzie is a participant of the Young Professionals Program at the East-West Center in Washington. He is a third year undergraduate student at the University of Western Australia studying a Bachelor of Arts, with a major in Political Science and International Relations.