Brisbane companies build South Asia trade via Sri Lanka

  • Trade

SRI LANKA could be the bridge that links Brisbane to new trade opportunities in South Asia, with business links developing through a recent match-making event organised by The Sri Lanka and Australia Chamber of Commerce (SLACC).

As a result of networking through the innovative business matchmaking event, three Brisbane companies invested more than $150,000 dollars into Sri Lankan technology companies, with more links expected to develop. 

The Sri Lanka Australia Chamber of Commerce roadshow brought more than 25 Sri Lankan technology companies to Brisbane. They were given the opportunity to pitch for business and potential investment from Australian delegates from the finance, technology, media and insurance industries.

Australian delegate and Techniche chairman Karl Jacoby said the visit had led to further investment in Sri Lanka’s information communication technology (ICT) sector for his business.

“Techniche has already successfully used a number of Sri Lankan companies in the areas of ICT support, digital marketing, and out sourced services which has led to new opportunities for our business,” Mr Jacoby said.

“As a result of this visit, we will be considering whether we could use some additional outsourced development capability, and I will personally be considering a number of investment opportunities in Sri Lankan businesses.”

SLACC president Kalum De Silva said the visit was an integral part of the chamber’s strategic focus on bi-lateral economic development between Australian and Sri Lanka businesses. 

“We are thrilled with the attendance and result of the mission which aimed to foster greater cooperation and collaboration between Australia and Sri Lanka in all trade related matters,” Mr De Silva said.

“By fostering a close relationship between the two countries, via public and private sector engagement, SLACC aims to increase trade and profitability between Sri Lanka and Australia.

“SLACC has already committed to another business mission for Sri Lankan delegates from October 25-27 which will be held on the Gold Coast and we’re looking for Australian business to be involved.”

SLACC is also calling for Australian businesses in the IT, tourism, manufacturing and specialty food industries interested in a similar mission to be involved in the World Export Development Forum (WEDF) in Sri Lanka from October 11-13.

WEDF brings together more than 600 business leaders, policymakers, heads of trade and investment support institutions and international trade development officials to address international competitiveness for developing countries.

SLACC is an integrated bi-lateral, member-based chamber constituted under the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI) to foster commercial trade and dialogue between Sri Lankan and Australian businesses.



Landing pad for Aust. innovators in Berlin

AUSTRALIA’s fourth ‘landing pad’ for start-up companies seeking international business is to be established in Berlin, Germany’s capital.

Berlin is regarded as a leading source of global innovation and disruptive technology and joins landing pads established in San Francisco, Tel Aviv and Shanghai. 

Trade, Tourism and Investment Minister, Steven Ciobo, made the announcement in Berlin, outlining how the landing pads were designed to provide market-ready start-ups with a short-term operational base in innovation hotspots, “helping them develop new markets and sustainable growth on a world scale”. 

“Berlin is a low-cost business centre and the start-up hub of Germany,” Mr Ciobo said. “With its vibrant, creative culture and extensive ecosystem of incubators and accelerators, the city is ideally positioned as a landing pad site for emerging Australian companies.”

As an emerging major technology hub, Berlin has a significant presence of major corporations and world-leading innovation research institutions like the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft and the Hasso-Plattner Institute School of Design. With US$2.2 billion invested into start-ups in 2014 and some of the world’s highest public and private sector investment in research and development, the city has overtaken London as Europe’s leading venture capital hub.

Germany is also one of Australia’s key science collaboration partners, with 516 active bilateral agreements between Australian and German institutions.

It is the fourth landing pad to be announced as part of the Coalition’s National Science and Innovation Agenda (NISA).

former Minister for Industry, Innovation and Science, Christopher Pyne (now Minister for Defence Industry) said the landing pad would help market-ready startups with access to local partners with expertise, infrastructure and innovation and marketing networks. 

“Berlin is an emerging major tech hub with an increasingly international startup community. Placing landing pads in innovation hot-spots will help entrepreneurial Australian companies access complementary entrepreneurial talent, mentoring, investors and a wider connected network of innovation hubs,” said Mr Pyne.

Mr Ciobo said the Berlin landing pad would help Australian startups think globally, tapping into entrepreneur, industry and capital networks.

“It will also contribute to stronger ties with Europe’s largest economy as Australia seeks to begin negotiations for a free trade agreement with the European Union,” he said.

 “Both our countries see the importance of innovation, science and technology as drivers of economic prosperity,” said Mr Pyne.


Aust. companies access Rocketspace Landing Pad

THE Australian Government’s first Landing Pad is now operational at Rocketspace, a technology campus in San Francisco.

Trade and Investment Minister, Steven Ciobo said the Landing Pad was designed to help Australian entrepreneurs bring their ideas to market and build high-growth and high-return enterprises. 

“It will provide Australian tech start-ups with a collaborative workspace, allowing them to pursue international opportunities,” Mr Ciobo said. “The next Atlassian, 99 Designs or Hydrus could be launched from here.” 

Australia’s Special Envoy for Trade, Andrew Robb said San Francisco was a global innovation hotspot.

“Positioning the Landing Pad within RocketSpace will accelerate access to international business networks, entrepreneurial talent, business development and investors,” Mr Robb said.

Mr Robb said RocketSpace had been working with tech start-ups and corporate innovation professionals since 2011. The company offers a complete suite of services, including office-as-a-service, accelerator-like programming, consulting, and events. Together these create a unique ecosystem for innovation to thrive. 

Assistant Minister for Innovation, Wyatt Roy said integral to the appeal of the Landing Pad will be the locally engaged Landing Pad Coordinator responsible for the provision of value-added services.

“The locally engaged coordinator will be a significant resource and will bring unique knowledge and experience to help Australian start-ups achieve their internationalisation efforts,” Mr Roy said.

Minister for Industry, Innovation and Science Christopher Pyne said the Landing Pads were a key element of the Australian Government’s $1.1 billion National Innovation and Science Agenda (NISA) and will support Australia’s ongoing economic diplomacy and science diplomacy efforts globally.

“Innovation in our economy is key to our nation’s future jobs and growth which is why the Government is vigorously implementing its National Innovation and Science Agenda,” Mr Pyne said.

“Landing pads form part of our global innovation strategy, a key component of the agenda, which will give Australian entrepreneurs an opportunity to compete globally.

“Our global innovation strategy will advance Australia’s international collaboration performance and encourage Australians to leverage entrepreneurial expertise found in key locations overseas, like San Francisco, Tel Aviv and others,” he said.

Austrade received $11.2 million in Budget funding to establish five Landing Pads and also develop a new annual in-bound innovation forum, fostering collaboration and attracting international market experts, entrepreneurial talent and investors to Australia.

In addition to San Francisco and Israel, a further three Landing Pad locations will be identified in the near future.

The launch of the San Francisco Landing Pad was part of the recent inaugural Australia United States Business Week (AUSBW) – a 240-strong business mission focused on technology and innovation.


Frosty Boy drives business through major Asia-Pac food expos

FROSTY Boy Australia, determined to become the world’s preferred dessert and beverage base manufacturer, is attending two of the region’s major food and beverage exhibitions to catapult its Asia-Pacific business.

In late March and April, the Frosty Boy is attending HOTELEX in Shanghai and Food&HotelAsia2016 in Singapore, viewing these events as prime opportunities to build on existing partnerships, while seeking new business prospects. 

Frosty Boy Australia, which this year celebrates 40 years of manufacturing, began exporting in 2001, and now supplies its powdered dessert and beverage bases to 48 countries, with the majority in Asia.

Frosty Boy CEO Dirk Pretorius said the company, with its production facility at the Gold Coast, manufactures the equivalent to two million serves of soft serve ice cream daily, with export making up 75 percent of business.

“We have already had great success in the Asia-Pacific region, with a great deal of our product being exported there, but there is still so much room for growth,” Mr Pretorius said. 

He said partnerships with Asian companies had been bolstered in recent times due to Australia’s improved trade agreements, positioning Frosty Boy and other Australian companies in high esteem to the rest of the world.

“Brand Australia in particular has contributed towards the company’s growth and is strongly recognised in international markets, particularly in China. Good quality Australian products, such as our beverage, frozen yoghurt and soft serve bases are in constant high demand,” Mr Pretorius said.

“We are already starting to see a substantial increase in the number of enquiries coming from China and believe that the China Australia Free Trade Agreement that came into force at the end of last year has instigated many of these.”

Frosty Boy general manager sales and marketing, Felipe Demartini said attending HOTELEX and Food&HotelAsia2016 would give Frosty Boy the opportunity to check in with existing partners, while meeting potential customers. 

Existing partners include Win Sin, a Singapore-based pastry, bakery and food service company.

“Partnerships like this are mutually beneficial. We help companies like Win Sin increase their profits with our products, while Frosty Boy continues to expand to maintain its year upon year growth of 15 percent,” Mr Demartini said.

Mr Demartini said he viewed the expos as great opportunities to showcase Frosty Boy’s products, while gaining further insights into the market to guide future research and development.


Robb signs historic trans-Pacific trade agreement in New Zealand

THE Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP) – which aims to see the elimination of 98 percent of tariffs among 12 countries – was formally signed on February 4 in New Zealand by Australia's Minister for Trade and Investment, Andrew Robb.

Mr Robb hailed the TPP as "the world’s most significant trade and investment agreement" and said he was elated that is was finalised after more than two decades of negotiations among member countries that, together, account for about 40 percent of global GDP. 

Australia’s exports of goods and services to these countries were worth $109 billion last year – a third of Australia’s total exports. In 2014, Australian investment in TPP countries was 45 percent of all outward investment.

Mr Robb said tariffs would be eliminated on US$9 billion of Australia’s dutiable exports to TPP countries, including $4.3 billion worth of agricultural goods with new levels of access for beef, dairy, sugar, rice, grains and wine.

A further $2.1 billion of Australia’s dutiable exports will receive significant preferential access through new quotas and tariff reductions.

Mr Robb said the TPP brought "enormous promise across both traditional areas of trade and investment and so-called 21st century areas like e-commerce and increasingly important global value chains".

“The tariff cuts will deliver material gains for our exporters across the board and place downward pressure on the cost of imported goods for households and businesses, but the benefits that will flow from the creation of a more seamless trading environment are not well understood,” Mr Robb said.

“The embrace of paperless trading, streamlined customs procedures and trading rules, assistance for SMEs, more seamless data flows and greater flexibility with data storage, are all features of the TPP. The agreement also contains provisions to help stimulate new investment and as experience shows, when you deepen trading relations increased investment inevitably follows.”

The TPP sets in place common rules for labour, the environment and, for the first time in a trade treaty, he said, rules "to combat bribery and corruption".

It will also ensure private companies and businesses are able to effectively compete against State Owned Enterprises (SOEs).

Significantly, Mr Robb said, the agreement would promote the expansion and diversification of Australia’s world-class services sector by liberalising key barriers, providing more transparent and predictable operating conditions, and it will capture future services sector reforms.

Some of the services areas that will benefit include Mining Equipment Services and Technologies (METS), professional services such as legal, architectural, engineering and surveying services; financial services, education, telecommunications, IT, transport, health, hospitality and tourism. Australian companies will also have new opportunities to deliver government procurement services.

Mr Robb said the TPP – which was open to other countries to join in the future – offered a pathway to a free trade area across the entire Asia Pacific region.

“Given its reach and potential this is an agreement we simply cannot afford not to be part of,” he said.

Each TPP country would now follow its own domestic treaty making process before the agreement can enter into force. In Australia this will include a Joint Standing Committee on Treaties (JSCOT) inquiry and the consideration by the parliament of any implementing legislation or amendments.

TPP members include Australia, New Zealand, the United States, Canada, Mexico, Japan, Chile, Peru, Vietnam, Malaysia and Brunei Darussalam.


Australia gets tariff cuts on popular high-tech goods


TARIFFS on about  $19 billion dollars’ worth of popular high-technology goods imported into Australia will be eliminated under an agreement reached by the World Trade Organization (WTO).

Trade and Investment Minister Andrew Robb said the agreement, finalised at the recent Nairobi meeting, corrects the original Information Technology Agreement (ITA) struck back in 1996, when recent technologies such as touch screens, GPS devices, and lithium ion batteries were not covered.

Mr Robb said for the first time the ITA will now cover a range of consumer electronics including headphones, loud speakers and amplifiers, as well as video game consoles.  Medical devices such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) machines, electro cardiograph (ECG) machines and bionic ear implants – such as those made by Cochlear – will also be covered. 

“The agreement reached between more than 50 WTO members to expand the ITA means global tariffs of up to 35 percent will be eliminated on 201 high technology products, covering over US$1.3 trillion in global trade,” Mr Robb said.

“By eliminating tariffs on these technology products we immediately reduce their cost, potentially boosting demand and stimulating further innovation.  The ITA expansion will make it much easier to ship these heavily traded goods around the globe.”

Mr Robb said the ITA demonstrates that the WTO can still achieve practical outcomes to liberalise global trade.

“It has been 18 years since the WTO last agreed to eliminate tariffs.  The ITA is a good opportunity for the WTO to demonstrate its ability to deliver ambitious trade liberalising outcomes,” Mr Robb said.

Australia imports about US$18.9 billion worth of goods covered under the new agreement, and exports around US$3.6 billion. 

“Eliminating tariffs on these goods in Australia and throughout the globe will reduce costs across a range of sectors including retail, technology industries such as software design, and IT service providers,” Mr Robb said.

Australia plans to begin implementing its commitments on January 1, 2017.

Further information on the ITA can be found on the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade website


Indonesia orders bigger cattle quota

INDONESIA has announced it could look at importing about 600,000 head of live Australian cattle over the next year.

It is a major turnaround for an industry that was hammered by the fallout of the live cattle ban by the previous Labor Government – the result of Australian reaction to a Four Corners ABC TV report on cattle slaughtering methods. The unilateral action not only caused diplomatic and trade problems between the countries, it also financially ruined a range of farming family businesses in Northern Australia. 

Agriculture and Water Resources Minister Barnaby Joyce welcomed the news that the Indonesian Government has recommended up to 200,000 head of cattle be imported from Australia in the first four months of 2016, with an indicative annual quota of 600,000 head for 2016. 

“After our recent trip to Indonesia it is a very welcome sign to see the overall level of quota being maintained and movement towards an annual quota,” Mr Joyce said. 

“This really is great news for both the people of Indonesia and cattle producers in Australia. For some time we have said that the certainty of an annual quota would benefit not only Australian producers, but also consumers and processors in Indonesia. This news is certainly a step in the right direction. 

“Our live cattle trade is a big contributor to the economies of both nations, as well as the livelihoods and wellbeing of Indonesians and Australians. 

“Australia's relationship with Indonesia in the live cattle export industry is becoming stronger by the day. This is a win-win situation for both those in Indonesia who value-add and for farmers in Australia who it supports. 

“While we respect Indonesia's right to make decisions with regards to their imports, a periodic quota system makes for an uncertain trading environment. 

“Indonesia is our closest trading partner and our economic futures are closely linked. It’s a relationship that we place a great deal of importance on, and it's built on mutual trust and respect,” Mr Joyce said.

“The Australian Government will continue to work closely with the Indonesian Government to ensure the trade in live cattle is meeting both our countries’ needs and policies. That is why we continue to highlight what we think are the benefits of an annual system to both our nations. 

“Good inter-governmental relations between Indonesia and ourselves make this job so much easier. 

“We will continue to strive to be a reliable exporter of quality and safe agrifood products, and this government will continue to support the livestock export trade and the returns this trade brings to many farmgates.” 

Import permits are now being issued and will be valid for four months.


Contact Us


PO Box 2144