'The view from Down Under: The future is bright for Australian-UK business relations' by the Lord Mayor of the City of London
I write today’s column from the sunny shores of Australia, and after just a few days here I can confidently say that the next few years will be a hugely exciting time for UK-Australian business relations.
Following our vote to exit the EU, Australia was the first market with which the UK established a bilateral trade working group to investigate how a future enhanced trading relationship will look between our two countries. With all that I have seen over the last week, I now know why.
This is a young, innovative, and dynamic place, with huge opportunities for growth and collaboration between our two countries.
Australia and the UK already enjoy a close relationship, with approximately 45,000 of London’s workers originating from Australia, many of them working in financial and professional services. The UK is Australia’s fifth largest trading partner, and its second largest source of total foreign investment.
But we can, and should, do more.
One area where I am particularly excited about deepening our business relationships is in fintech. Australia has made huge advances in growing its fintech sector – doubling its number of fintech firms to over 700 in the last two years.
Part of that success and growth has been down to support from government-funded fintech accelerators such as Stone and Chalk in Sydney, and YBF Ventures in Melbourne, both of which I was able to visit and tour. Having these centres for new companies gives them a safe place to grow and mature before they head out into the wide world of business.
Once they reach that scale, when they are looking at international opportunities for growth, the City of London is there to help, as the world’s most innovative and creative financial centre.
London is the largest fintech market in the world, employing close to 44,000 people and generating a revenue of £6.6bn pounds per annum.
Part of this growth and scale has been down to collaboration with international fintech firms in search of establishing a presence overseas, so I know the UK will serve as a fantastic staging point for Australian companies looking to establish operations across Europe, the Middle East, and Africa.
In London they can take advantage of our world-leading financial services sector, which can offer smaller fintech businesses access to the funds they need, and our unmatched cluster of professional services can support organisations as they grow and mature.
Most importantly, there was huge excitement with nearly everyone that I met as the Fintech Bridge, announced by Australian treasurer Scott Morrison last year, moves toward completion. This initiative, in the final stages of negotiation, will bring businesses, regulators, and most importantly people closer together, driving growth and collaboration between our two countries, with the full support of the City of London Corporation.
I was able to speak to Morrison in Canberra last week, and I am confident that this bridge will be completed and signed in the coming weeks – and we look forward to supporting its implementation.
The future is bright for Australian-British business relations, and I am looking forward to seeing more Australian companies taking advantage of all that London has to offer the world in the years to come.
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