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International IT to Australia

Australia offers a wealth of opportunity for businesses to succeed. Businesses can expect a stable and efficient regulatory environment, a highly skilled and multi-lingual workforce and a culture of innovation. Our unparalleled economic record, world-class industry capabilities and unique cultural and geographic advantages in the world’s fastest growing region all form part of Australia's impressive reputation as an investment destination.

 

1.Australia is an attractive destination for foreign direct investment

Australia is seen as an attractive destination for foreign direct investment (FDI). Over the last five years, inward FDI stock has increased by an average of 5.8 per cent per annum.

Australia now attracts a high level of FDI compared to other developed economies. The ratio of FDI to GDP is almost 36 per cent which is well above the average for comparable developed economies of 25 per cent (IMF/UNCTAD/AUSTRADE).

As of 30 July 2010, the stock of inward FDI in Australia was A$436 billion. The top four source countries were the United States, the United Kingdom, Japan and the Netherlands.

Out of the top 10 source countries, Singapore, Japan, Germany and the Netherlands have shown the strongest growth in FDI stock into Australia over the last five years.

The European Union remains Australia’s largest regional bloc source of FDI, accounting for close to 34 per cent of total FDI stock in 2009.

(Sources- ABS 5352.0 - International Investment Position, Australia: Supplementary Statistics 2009, UNCTAD World Investment Report to 2009)

 

 

2.An economy positioned for recovery

Australia's reputation as a highly competitive economy continues to strengthen. In 2009, the Australian economy was ranked in the top three countries in the Asia-Pacific region for its overall competitiveness.Among countries with a population of 20 million or more, Australia ranks second in the world, behind only the United States. (Source: IMD, World Competitiveness Yearbook, 2009).

For many years Australia has outperformed OECD economies in both growth and resilience of the economy. For six of the last eight years, the Australian economy has been found the most resilient in the world and its average growth rate from 1998-2009 was 3.4 per cent. (Source: Ibid)

This, together with a strong and independent financial sector and an effective and proven regulatory financial system, means the Australian economy provides a sound platform for foreign direct investment and business growth.

Australia is a serious trade and investment player, generating more than 20 per cent of GDP from exports and more than 36 per cent from FDI stock and its economy is now predominantly services-based, with services accounting for just over 60 per cent of economic activity. (Source: Australian Bureau of Statistics, June 2008)

Australia’s exposure to and engagement with the Asian region - which still has the most dynamic growth potential in the world – offers a strategic advantage to companies looking to position themselves for global growth opportunities.

While Australia, as elsewhere, has been affected by the global economic downturn, the Australian Government responded quickly to counter recessionary pressures by spending proportionally more and earlier in terms of fiscal stimulus. (The IMF’s aggregate target for fiscal stimulus is 2 per cent of GDP and in Australia fiscal measures account for 2.1 per cent of GDP. This percentage is greater than that of the G20 PPP-GDP weighted average and higher than the UK, US, Canada, Germany, France and Japan - as of March 2009). Australia’s recession looks like it will be smaller than in much of the rest of the developed world. (The IMF World Economic Outlook [April 09] indicates Australia will recover more quickly in 2010 and with higher growth than the UK, US and Eurozone).

Looking ahead, the Australian market is open for trade and foreign investment and has the capacity to deploy both our own and other people’s capital carefully and profitably. The Government has not had to give direct financial support to the banking system and Australia will be free of the difficult governance and exit strategy issues that such support is raising in a number of other countries.

Few countries have as an attractive proposition to offer to international investment capital and to their own citizens over the years ahead. (Source: Glenn Stevens, Governor of the Reserve Bank of Australia - speech available from www.rba.gov.au)

 

3.STRATEGIC LOCATION

The continued importance of the Asia-Pacific region as a source of world economic growth means Australia is a strategic location for business opportunities in Asia.

Australia is well placed to capitalise on growth in China and India. Its relative proximity to these two countries, plus already strong trade links, mean that Australia’s geographic location now represents a significant asset.

 

 

4.Unique advantages

Australia's geographic location also presents unique time zone advantages in the Asia Pacific, allowing companies to benefit from 'follow-the-sun' or 'pass-the-book' operations such as transaction processing in financial markets, help desks, customer service, IT support and other critical services.

When it is 9am in Sydney, it is 5pm in New York; when it is 12 noon in Sydney, it is 9am in Shanghai, and when it is 6pm in Sydney, it is 8am in Frankfurt.

Australians start work before their US colleagues go home, then have an early-start advantage over colleagues in Japan, China, Singapore and India. And they are at the end of their working day when the Europeans clock on.

Many companies around the world are taking advantage of these crucial time links. For example, Australia's time zone advantage encouraged DSTi, a UK based investment management and portfolio accounting software developer to offer 24-hour global customer support from its Australian office.

"Being able to fix a European or North American client's problem overnight and have a solution available for them first thing in the morning has some real appeal," says Ian Mathieson, Chief Executive Officer for DSTi in Australia and New Zealand.

Australia’s counter-seasonality to the northern hemisphere also offers significant strategic advantage in food production and agri-business.

 

5.Trade links

Australia’s traditional trade with Europe and North America is augmented by our rapidly growing trade with Asia. China and Japan are now the country’s top two-way trading partners, followed by the US and the UK and the country has strong trading links throughout Asia.

Confident of its international competitiveness, Australia has pursued Free Trade Agreements with many of its regional partners and has agreements in place with Chile, New Zealand, Singapore, Thailand and the United States. Australia has also either concluded – or is in negotiations with – the ASEAN group of countries, China, the Gulf Cooperation Council, Japan, Malaysia and the Trans Pacific Partnership.

6.Networks

Advanced transport and communications networks provide Australian-based companies with an edge in servicing Asian markets quickly and effectively.

For example, sea freight services between Australia and most Asian ports are regular and direct. A sailing between Sydney and Shanghai can take as little as 13 days, whereas the average between Shanghai and Germany is 26 days. Currently, more than 10 shipping companies offer weekly sailings to China, leading to highly competitive export rates*.

Similarly Australian air freight services to most major Asian cities are direct. As a result, complete transit times are low: air freight services from Australia to Asia are typically twice as fast as from North America to Asia.

India's biggest global outsourcing companies - such as Satyam Computers, Tata Consulting Services and Wipro Technologies - have established offices in Australia in large part to service US and European clients.

*Import rates are also competitive, but higher, owing to a greater demand for import freighting. They are also more subject to fluctuation during peak seasons such as Christmas.

 

 

7.DEMOCRATIC AND POLITICALLY STABLE

Business in Australia has a high degree of certainty

Australia is a safe destination for investment. The country's political and regulatory environment is stable, open and progressive, providing investors with a high degree of confidence and certainty.

Australia's strength as an investment destination stems, in part, from a political system that has been assessed as being highly effective in responding to economic challenges and policy direction. The adaptability of Australian government policy to changes in the economy has been ranked in the top two countries in the region (Source: IMD World Competitiveness Yearbook 2009). Similarly, the transparency and effectiveness of government are also rated highly (Source: Ibid).

 

8.Efficient and transparent legal framework

Australia also has an open, efficient and transparent legal framework. Corruption levels are judged lower than those in the US, the UK, Canada and most regional countries (Source: Ibid).

These results can be attributed to a strong system of checks and balances, and a highly respected judicial and law enforcement system.

9.Stable political environment

The benefit to companies of a stable political environment can flow right through to the bottom line.

'Australia is one of the most important markets for Ericsson in the Asia-Pacific region. Australia hosts a growing economy; a stable political and business environment; a skilled, well educated and multi-lingual workforce; a strategic time-zone and a competitive cost base. These factors provide a sophisticated market and the right environment enabling Ericsson to drive innovation and technology.' 鈥ㄢ- Hans Vestberg, Executive Vice President, Chief Financial Officer and Head of Group Function Finance, Ericsson.

 

10.BUSINESS FRIENDLY REGULATORY ENVIRONMENT

It's easy to do business in Australia

Australia has one of the most transparent and efficient regulatory environments in the world. Through proactive reforms, the Australian Government has shown a strong commitment to providing businesses with the right conditions for growth and investment.

Best practice regulation

Australia's business friendly regulatory environment is undisputed. In 2006, the OECD cited Australia’s approach to regulation as a best practice benchmark for other OECD countries (Source: OECD Going for Growth, 2006).

Australia was identified as having the fewest restrictions on product markets of the 30 OECD countries, the least public ownership of business and the least restrictive impact of business regulation on economic behaviour.

Regulatory standards

In fact, with regulatory procedures taking just two days, Australia has been ranked as the third fastest place in the world to start a business (Source: The World Bank Doing Business 2009).

Businesses can invest in Australia with confidence in the security and transparency of Australia's regulatory systems. This provides predictability and certainty for business planning.

Unlike many countries in the region, there are no foreign exchange controls in Australia and the currency is fully internationalised.

Capital flows, profit remittances, capital repatriation, transfer of royalties and trade related payments remain largely free from regulation.

Transparency in government policy is considered third best in the region, and Australia's legal and regulatory framework has been rated one of the top six economies in the world for encouraging enterprise competition (Source: IMD World Competitiveness Yearbook 2009).

The Australian Government's commitment to continuous improvement in areas such as intellectual property (IP) reform and business immigration ensures a streamlined, business-focused regulatory environment.

Recent reforms focus on greater labour market flexibility, trade liberalisation, industry deregulation, reductions in tariff barriers and the development of a better tax system – resulting in strong productivity and enabling businesses to be highly responsive to economic conditions.

Corporate governance

Not only is government policy in tune with business imperatives, but so too is corporate governance. Australian corporate boards are ranked sixth most effective in the world and second in the region for the supervision of the management of companies (Source: Ibid).

In addition, Australia is ranked seventh in the world and second in the region, after New Zealand, for the implementation of ethical practices in companies (Source: Ibid).

Transparency

Australia has a highly professional and transparent public service, which is reflected in its rating in the top seven countries in the world (Source: Ibid).

The inherent value system in the society promotes competitiveness and has been rated fourth most supportive of business competitiveness in the world (Source: Ibid).

Intellectual property

As the knowledge economy gathers pace, a strong intellectual property framework is critical to business success.  Australia ranks highly for its enforcement of intellectual property rights – second in the region and eighth globally.

In terms of adequate protection of cyber security, Australia ranks thirteenth globally and in the top four countries in the Asia-Pacific region (Source: Ibid).

For personal security and protection of private property, Australia ranks sixth globally and first in the region (Source: Ibid).

 

STRONG AND SOPHISTICATED FINANCIAL SERVICES SECTOR

Stability and resilience during the financial crisis

The financial services sector in Australia is sophisticated and ideally positioned as a centre for the Asia-Pacific region.

The strength of the Australia financial services sector was evidenced by the resilience of the Australian economy throughout the recent financial crisis. The Australian economy was ranked the most resilient in the Asia-Pacific region in 2009 and as one of the four most resilient globally (Source: IMD World Competitiveness Online 1995-2009 (Updated: May 2009).

Australia’s banks are among the strongest in the world. Of the world’s nine major which are rated AA or above by Standard and Poor’s, Australia is home to four. These strong credit ratings enabled Australian banks to continue to raise funds from overseas during the financial crisis, and – in contrast to many other countries – no bank in Australia required capital injections from the government during this period. In fact, over the course of 2008, Australian banks were some of the most profitable.

The relative stability of the Australian economy during the crisis can also be attributed to the sophisticated system of regulation governing the country’s financial markets, which is viewed around the world as a model of responsible and prudential regulation.

A strong, highly developed sector

Australia has deep and liquid financial markets and is recognised as a regional leader in investment management and in areas including infrastructure financing and structured products. The strength of the financial services sector is underpinned by a mandated retirement savings scheme, highly skilled and multilingual workforce and advanced business infrastructure.

Finance and insurance is the fourth largest sector in Australia's economy, generating 8.1 per cent or A$81 billion of real gross value added in 2008-09. This contribution is up from 6.6 per cent two decades ago (Source: Australian Bureau of Statistics, can.no.5206.0, National Income, Expenditure and Product, Time Series Workbook (released 2 September 2009). The finance and insurance industry is almost as big as the mining sector (the industry traditionally associated with Australia's economic wellbeing) and its expansion has also aided growth in related sectors such as communications, property and business services.

Highly developed financial markets make Australia one of the major centres of capital markets activity in Asia and Australia’s large and mature financial services sector has assets of more than A$4.5 trillion, which is equivalent to almost four times GDP.

 Underpinning much of Australia’s financial services strength is the growth of its investment funds sector. Australia has one of the largest pools of consolidated assets under management globally, currently valued at about A$1.2 trillion (US$950 billion).

Export

The Australian industry, with the active support of the Australian and state governments, is looking to build on our capabilities to take advantage of emerging opportunities in the region and globally.

Australia’s annual export value of goods and services now exceeds US$230 billion (representing more than 20 per cent of GDP), with a compound annual growth rate of around 9 per cent per annum since 1998 (Source: World Trade organisation, statistics database (downloaded 12 May 2009). This strong growth reflects outgoing economic reforms, Australia’s rising competitiveness, contributed trade openness and diverse export destinations.

In particular, Australian-based firms are seeking to position Australia as a centre for excellence for funds management. A recent survey showed fund managers are rapidly expanding their operations around the globe, particularly in the Asia-Pacific region (Source: Survey of members of the Investment and Financial Services Association, 2008). Australia is recognised for its innovation and sophistication in the provision and administration of managed funds products.

Finance

Investors in Australia can also look to Australia's financial services industry for investment financing. The country has been assessed as having the third best regulation of securities exchanges and the fourth soundest banking system in the world (Source: World Economic Forum, The Global Competitiveness Report 2008-09) and Australia's percentage of non-performing loans is among the lowest in the world (Source: IMF, Global Financial Stability Report, April 2009, Statistical Appendix, Table 24). Financial sector regulation is recognised as world best practice, and provides a transparent and secure base for expansion within the region.

Supporting investment

Australia offers global financial services institutions opportunities in a rapidly expanding domestic market and an ideal location for servicing markets in the Asian time zones.

The Australian Government is committed to building upon Australia’s strong regulatory environment and financial sector expertise, and firmly establishing Australia as a financial centre in the region. The government is taking a number of initiatives to support this objective.

In 2008, legislation was passed, which will progressively reduce the withholding tax rate on specified distributions from managed funds from 30 per cent to 7.5 per cent by 2010-2011, making it one of the most competitive in the world. The government is also currently undertaking a major review of Australia's tax system recognising the importance of taxation for our international competitiveness generally and for the competitiveness of the financial services sector in particular.

The government is also looking at opportunities for simplification of Australia's financial services regulation and negotiating mutual recognition agreements with key international markets. Signed agreements have already been reached with the United States, Hong Kong and New Zealand. In addition, Australia has gained recognition as an approved destination for investment funds under China’s Qualified Domestic Institutional Investor program.

The government has assembled a panel of experts comprising financial sector representatives, leading academics and senior government officials which, together with the establishment of a dedicated team in The Treasury, are working to identify barriers to inward and outward investment and develop policies that will help Australia to achieve its full potential as a financial centre.

EXCELLENT QUALITY OF LIFE

Australia's political and economic advantages are complemented by its welcoming attitude and excellent quality of life. In 2009, Australia’s quality of life was ranked 6th in the world out of 57 key economies, ahead of New Zealand, the USA and the UK (Source: IMD World Competitiveness Online 1995-2009, Worldwide Quality of Life Index 2009).

Australia ranked second on the UNDP Human Development Index 2009, behind only Norway, and Australia's life expectancy (81 years) was the fifth highest in the world. The level of access to healthcare professionals and services in Australia is also amongst the highest in the world.

 

 

Living the lifestyle

With one of the highest standards of living in the world, Australia offers a superb climate, a unique and beautiful environment, and quality social and cultural infrastructure.

Australian cities are regularly judged to be among the most liveable in the world across by a range of international surveys. In the Economist Intelligence Unit Liveability Ranking 2009, four of Australia's mainland capital cities were ranked in the top eight liveable cities in the world. While in Mercer Human Resource Consulting’s Quality of Living Survey 2008, Sydney, Melbourne, Perth, Adelaide and Brisbane were all among the top 31 cities in the world to live in, ahead of notable cities such as London, Paris, Singapore, Tokyo and New York.

The cost of living in Australia's capital cities is also lower than in most other major capitals worldwide, including Tokyo, Hong Kong, New York City, Singapore, London, Los Angeles and Dubai (Source: Mercer Worldwide Cost of Living Sydney 2009).

 

Welcoming foreign investment

Australia's prosperity has been built on it being a great trading nation and an attractive and welcoming destination for foreign investment. Accordingly, the Australian Government actively encourages and supports foreign investment that is consistent with its national interest – regardless of source country – through a range of services and programs. In August 2009, the government announced legislative amendments aimed at simplifying and streamlining the screening process for foreign investment proposals.

Room to move

Australia has space in abundance. It is the sixth largest country in the world, but with one of the world’s lowest population densities at an average of only around three people per square kilometre.

 

Education and training

The quality of Australia's education and training sector is internationally recognised. The country has well-designed private, state and federal-funded education systems offering high quality primary, secondary and tertiary education, and extensive vocational training, including specialised institutions for teaching English. Expatriate students at Australian schools can continue their schooling at US and European educational institutions without difficulty.

Sport and recreation

Australians not only work hard, they play hard. Their love of sports is famous. New facilities created for the 2000 Olympics in Sydney and 2006 Commonwealth Games in Melbourne, along with many other centres, provide options to view and participate in many sports.

Australians also love the outdoors. Australia has more than 7000 beaches stretching along thousands of kilometres of coastline, creating access to all water sports. Mountain ranges in Victoria and New South Wales offer a choice of snow sports and hundreds of state and national parks provide access to vast, pristine wilderness areas.

Culture

Australia supports a thriving national and local art, theatre, dance, film, opera and music scene which attracts many international performers and artists. Australian restaurants are creating an international reputation for their fresh and inviting menus.

The print and broadcast media is robust and lively, with about 1,200 lifestyle and other magazines – among the most per capita in the world – catering for all tastes.

A society to grow in

Living in Australia is to share in the culture of openness and a passion for getting the most out of life. Australian society encourages opportunity for all and gives everyone a ‘fair go’, while also fostering a strong spirit of competition.

Combined with all the other attributes on offer, Australia is not only a leading location for international companies but the destination of choice for their employees.

Australia's financial services sector at a glance

Australia has:

Debt and equity markets that are amongst the most liquid and sophisticated in the world with new products emerging, such as exchange traded CFDs, property derivatives, and products related to carbon trading.

 

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