AUSTRALIA calls the European Union its “largest economic partner” and the European Australian Business Council, whose objective is to promote trade and investment between Australia and Europe, organises an annual mission to Europe to strengthen the expansion of Australian business interests in Europe. This year the mission is for the first time being led by Governor-General Quentin Bryce – who effectively acts as Australia’s head of state, in her role as constitutional representative of Queen Elizabeth II in Australia – signalling Australia’s recognition of the value and extent of its relationship with Europe. The 25-member delegation will visit Paris, Brussels, Bratislava and Vienna between June 2 and June 7.
David Stuart, the Vienna-based Australian Ambassador to Slovakia, highlighted the importance of the mission.
“The main focus of the Australian Business Mission’s visit to Europe is to engage European political and business leaders on economic and public policy issues affecting the trade and investment relationship between Australia and Europe,” Stuart told The Slovak Spectator. “In particular, the mission will visit Bratislava to exchange views with high-ranking Slovak officials and business representatives on current economic challenges and the prospects for greater commercial ties between Australia and the Slovak Republic.”
The programme of the mission includes meetings with business and industry leaders in France – a G20 partner and the world’s fifth largest economy – and in Austria and Slovakia – two strongly-performing, export-oriented economies bridging the former western and eastern European divide.
According to Stuart, the programme for the visit envisages many opportunities for dialogue on the Slovak economy and Slovak views about how the economic challenges in the eurozone might be tackled. The delegation will visit Slovakia on June 6.
The objective of the mission is to promote trade and investment between Australia and Europe, and to connect business and policy-makers on issues affecting what Australia says is its largest economic relationship.
“European investment has been fundamental to the development of the Australian economy, with human, intellectual and financial capital, and the core values which underpin our democratic institutions,” Alastair Walton, the chairman of the European Australian Business Council (EABC) said, as quoted in a press release prior to the EABC mission to Europe. “The Governor-General’s leadership of the mission will bolster efforts by Australian and European leaders to forge a stronger and deeper bilateral relationship.”
In 2012 total accumulated investment between Australia and the European Union exceeded A$1 trillion (approximately US$1 trillion, or €730 billion) for the first time, as Australia’s rapidly growing pool of managed funds increasingly seek investment opportunities in Europe and other overseas markets.
According to Walton, much is to be gained by promoting opportunities for Australian and European companies in their respective markets, and also joint opportunities in the Asia-Pacific region.