On Friday 15 February, Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation (SMBC), one of Japan’s largest banks, with a heritage of over 140 years, hosted a global seminar “Australia – Opportunity Abounds”, supported by the Australian Embassy, Austrade, NSW Trade & Investment, QLD Trade & Investment, VIC Trade & Investment, and WA Trade & Investment as well as the ANZCCJ. In attendance were over 60 people, including clients of SMBC and members of the Chamber. Key speakers included the Australian Ambassador HE Richard Court AC, Austrade Senior Trade Commissioner Brett Cooper, NSW Trade and Investment Commissioner Peter Knight, Queensland Trade and Investment Commissioner Tak Adachi, Commissioner for Victoria to Japan and Korea Adam Cunneen, Government of WA Japan Office Acting Commissioner Richelle Gornik, and Senior Managing Executive Officer at SMBC, Masahiko Oshima.
The seminar commenced with opening remarks by the Senior Managing Executive Officer at SMBC, Masahiko Oshima, followed by a greeting by the Australian Ambassador to Japan, Richard Court.
The first session commenced with an insightful presentation on the investment opportunities for Japanese enterprises in Australia by Austrade Senior Trade Commissioner, Brett Cooper. The presentation comprised of four topics: Broader Australian economic trends for 2019; direct foreign investment patterns in Australia; opportunities in Australia for Japanese enterprises, and the role Austrade plays in supporting businesses and investors. Mr Cooper emphasised that the Australian economy has been growing steadily, and will continue to do so, due to the increasing population as a result of immigration. He also mentioned that Japan has become Australia’s second biggest investor, and that there is a plethora of diverse investment opportunities aside from mining.
Following Mr Cooper’s presentation, Australian State representatives gave presentations about the unique opportunities in their home states. The focus for these presentations was to introduce innovative business areas, such as ‘clean-tech’, energy storage, smart grid, game and creative industries, and life science/test marketing. Peter Knight, New South Wales (NSW) Trade and Investment Commissioner, representing NSW, explained that NSW plays a leading role in Australian economy and is the national hub of clean-tech, raising the opportunities for investment in energy storage and saving. Mr Cooper, on behalf of the Northern Territories (NT), discussed investment opportunities in tourism, energy, minerals and rare earth, space industry and agribusiness in NT. Tak Adachi, Queensland (QLD) Trade and Investment Commissioner, focussed on QLD’s innovation ecosystem which was budding around robotics and life sciences, bio science, renewable energy and ‘agritech’. The QLD Government has started a fund called “Advance Queensland” in the aim of supporting programs that drive innovation, build on QLD’s natural assets, and help raise QLD’s profile as an attractive investment destination. Adam Cunneen, Commissioner for Victoria (VIC) to Japan and Korea, talked about how VIC has established its economy without depending on the natural resources sector, instead focussing on clinical trials and ‘drug discovery’, information communications tech, and building a hydrogen energy supply chain derived from brown coal. Richelle Gornik, the Acting Trade and Investment Commissioner for Western Australia (WA) spoke on how WA has played an important role in Australia-Japan trade for a long time with (with gas exports contributing an overwhelming amount toward Australian goods exports to Japan). Ms Gornik said other innovation abound, with renewable battery development and precious minerals available in WA, and other alternative energy supplies (including Hydrogen) being explored. She said, because of this innovation happening, renewable energy resources offered a big investment opportunity in WA.
After guests were treated to Allpress coffee and METoA Café’s pound cake, a panel discussion was held between the state government representatives. The panellists discussed newly emerging business opportunities in Australia for Japanese companies. The discussion topics ranged from renewable energy sources and ‘clean-tech’, ICT and creative industries, the drug test market options and collaboration with Australian universities and academics, to high-tech in the agricultural industry. The attendees were interested in Federal Government support, and it was noted that both the Australian ruling, and opposition parties have agreed to provide funding for renewable energy industries, such as hydrogen. A Q&A session was held at the end of the panel discussion. Questions were raised surrounding the high employment costs and low unemployment rate in Australia, what types of investment Japanese companies should consider in Australia, and how the government can increase information surrounding Australian education. Panellists stated that efficiency in the workplace, and opportunities to expand into other Asian markets were key advantages of investing in Australian industries.
The seminar concluded with closing remarks made by Brett Cooper, emphasising once more that collaboration is the key to everything, and that the door to investment in Australia is always open.
Thank you to SMBC for hosting the seminar.