01 Dec

CEO Report - December 2017

As 2017 draws to a close, I would like to take the time to thank you all for being a part of the Chamber’s broad array of activities across the year. We will, by the time the year ends, have run over 120 events for our members. These have included events with leaders across business sectors such as cyber security, economics, finance, fintech, health, infrastructure, politics, technology and tourism, to name a few. We’ve also held events for more social networking including wine and whisky tastings, Meet the Member evenings, trivia nights and a golf day.

Our bilateral programme also included a Fintech delegation to London back in April as well as our annual Infrastructure Catalyst, which travelled to Birmingham, Gaydon and London. We look forward to continuing these annual events next year with the dates now confirmed for the Fintech Catalyst 3-5th of July and the Infrastructure Catalyst 8-12 Octobe­­r 2018. Expressions of interest to sponsor and participate in these are welcome.

Next year is already shaping up well, with a planned visit from the Lord Mayor of the City of London to Sydney and Melbourne in February, among many exciting events.

The Rt Hon Dr Liam Fox MP

We have been delighted to have the Secretary of State The Rt Hon Dr Liam Fox visiting Australia this week. He has received a warm reception here from the Australian Government, Opposition and of course from the Chamber and our Members.

His clear message has been that the UK is seeking to engage more closely with Australia, as it reinstates the “Global Britain” position. It is his strong contention that it is important the Britain look to engage with the global growth around the world, not just that in the EU, with 90% of global growth expected to be outside the EU in the next decade.

Regardless of the views prior to the referendum, this new paradigm presents great opportunities for Australia. These opportunities are not just in terms of a bilateral Free Trade Agreement that can be concluded after the UK have formally left the EU, but also in terms of ambitions we share including on the multilateral Trade in Services Agreement. As a trading nation, with a shared history and outlook with the UK, Australia will be well placed to take advantage of this opportunity.

This however does not mean that either Australia or the UK are intending to turn their back on the EU, indeed quite the contrary. While the negotiations have been postponed, all parties (the EU, UK and Australia) are keen to see the Australia-EU FTA negotiations begin. This is planned to now commence in Q1 2018. The UK of course are also keen to progress their negotiations with the EU on the future trading relationship.

At the dinner reception we held for him on Tuesday evening in Sydney, the Secretary of State for International Trade highlighted the strength and depth of Australia’s relationship and the opportunities for both countries that share a similar outlook on the world as trading nations. I recommend that you read a transcript of his speech which can be found here. There are also photos that you can view of this extraordinary event here.

What are the opportunities and challenges you see? A view beyond Brexit

As part of the work of the Chamber, we are embarking on an ambitious programme of activities to engage the business and political communities over the next year to identify items to be addressed in the Brexit process. This will include continuing our industry consultation programme with sessions between both the UK and Australian Government representatives, and our second Annual survey of businesses.  I encourage you to participate in these sessions; the survey; and to share your thoughts on ways to improve the Australian British relationship. Please feel free to send any suggestions to policy@britishchamber.com.

I wish to thank some of the many people that have helped us manage what has been the Chamber’s most successful year.

I would like to thank Her Excellency Menna Rawlings CMG (British High Commissioner to Australia); Michael Ward (British Consul-General in Sydney and Director of the Department for International Trade for Australia and New Zealand); Chris Holtby OBE (British Consul-General in Melbourne); and the broader team who we work with from both the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Department for International Trade and other government agencies both here and in the UK. This partnership is in terrific order and is producing strong results for both parties.

I would also like to thank The Hon Alexander Downer AC (Australian High Commissioner to the UK), Matt Anderson (Deputy High Commissioner) and David Watson (Austrade) and their teams, for their support in and from the UK.

I would also like to thank our Board and Council Members, who give the Chamber shape, purpose and are always there to assist. Without the work they contribute the Chamber would not have achieved what it is has this year. Of particular note I recognise, Paul Lewis and Andrew Chick in leading the Committees for the Catalyst programmes, and David Slessar OBE for his guidance on both those and the broader issues of the business.

I would like to thank our Principal Sponsors and Members for their continued support. Without you, the Chamber would not have a reason to do the work we do. Thank you for continuing to support our programmes which enable the Chamber to present so many opportunities back to you.

Finally, I would particularly like to thank my team. Jennifer Cramond, Helen Walford, Helen Maclean, Paul O’Hagan, Paul Wright and Jenny Garber have all made strong contributions. Alongside them, Andy Turnbull and Kirsten Pain have put together the Catalyst programmes and Naga who keeps the books in order. I am very fortunate to lead a strong team, and I am pleased to be able to acknowledge them here.

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