The rapid transformation occurring in Asia offers opportunities for Finnish companies and research organisations that have a base in Australia, says Gerald Thomson.
H.E. Ambassador Gerald Thomson, based at the Australian Embassy in Stockholm, visited VTT in August 2014. The Ambassador represents his country also in Finland, Estonia and Latvia. He sees many opportunities for increasing business and R&D collaboration between Australia and Finland.
There are about 50 Finnish companies which have branch offices in Australia, and also others that have a presence through their sales agencies.
– These companies include Konecranes, Fiskars and Marimekko. He pinpoints particularly two companies, Metso and Outotec which are among the biggest suppliers of mining equipment in Australia. It is estimated that 60 percent of mining equipment in Australia is provided by six overseas companies and two of them are Finnish.
– The Australian economy is the world’s 12th largest. It is experiencing its 23rd year of uninterrupted growth and is forecast to have average annual real GDP growth of 2.8 per cent between 2013 to 2019. Australia is increasingly tied to fast-growing economies in Asia, says the Ambassador.
Base close to North Asia
According to Ambassador Thomson, having a presence in Australia can provide a solid base for Nordic companies to build commercial relationships in Asia. It is predicted that Asia will account for 50% of global GDP by 2025.
– The business opportunities look very positive because of the large transformation that is occurring in Asia. This growth has been generated by a mining boom that has been driven by developments in China and other parts of Asia. The Australian Government is quite optimistic about the continuing growth in this sector.
It has been estimated that by 2030 two thirds of the world’s middle class will live in Asia. This will generate opportunities in the education, health services and agribusiness sectors.
The Australian government has identified priority areas into which it is particularly interested in attracting foreign companies not only for investment purposes, but also for research and development. Those sectors include, resources and energy, infrastructure development, the digital economy, materials science and technology and medical science and technologies.
– Committed investment in the resources and energy sector totals about 268 billion Australian dollars. That is an amount roughly the size of the Finnish economy. The timing of some projects is uncertain, but it gives you an indication of the continuing growth that is to be expected in this sector over the medium term.
– There is a big push in the mining sector to achieve productivity gains. This opens opportunities for international companies, including companies in the Nordic region, to help Australian companies improve efficiencies across entire supply chains.
In the health sector, the Australian government has created a 20 billion dollar health-research fund, that can be leveraged by foreign companies. Australia has a proven track record on innovation in the medical sector.
Australia is a country that is highly connected, has adopted quickly new digital technologies and is installing a new nationwide broadband network. Australia’s hunt for new and efficient IT solutions is generating good opportunities for creative foreign firms.
Renewable energy will be a focus for Australia over the medium term, including due to the Government’s commitment to reducing CO2 emissions by 2020.
There are a lot of opportunities also in the field of advanced manufacturing, including in defence technologies.
– Bioenergy or the bioeconomy in Australia is not as well-developed as in the Nordic region. However, the interest in this area in Australia is growing, assures Ambassador Thomson, who points out that there is a lot of available biomass in the country.
The buzz in Melbourne and Sydney
There is a lot happening in terms of infrastructure and urban development at the State government and city administration levels in Australia – creating opportunities in niche areas.
– For example, Melbourne has projects on the go where sustainable-city technologies developed in Finland are relevant. In Sydney there are projects where scope exists for Finnish companies to find collaboration in the field of energy efficient buildings, tells Ambassador Thomson.
23 years of uninterrupted annual growth
The Australian economy is:
- the world’s 12th largest
- in its 23rd year of uninterrupted annual growth
- rated triple ‘A’ by all three global rating agencies
- forecast to have average annual real GDP growth of 2.8 per cent between 2013 to 2019
- increasingly tied to fast-growing economies in Asia
Source: Australian Trade Commission, Austrade