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European Australian Business : 2008
introduction Australia and Europe have a proud history of close business and cultural links, and the potential to build even closer links as we face common challenges together. Our long history of cooperation in trade, international forums and efforts to strengthen in- ternational security gives great depth to the relationships between Australia and European nations. Our shared values reflect our common cultural heritage and a strong commitment to open economies and open societies. As each of us responds to global chal- lenges such as climate change and a fast-changing global economy, there is great scope for our nations to work together more closely and build yet stronger links. While Australia enjoys strong bilateral relationships with individual European nations, we also benefit from a close and productive working relationship with the European Union (EU), working together on a broad range of regional and global challenges. In June 2007 Australia and the EU announced the development of a new key partner- ship arrangement to take effect from mid-2008. The arrangement provides for enhanced cooperation on bilateral and multilateral trade, investment and security issues – particularly in the Asia Pacific region – along with greater collaboration in the areas of energy security and climate change, as well as in education, science and training. The EU nations together form Aus- tralia’s largest trading partner and biggest source of overseas invest- ment. In 2006-07 total two-way trade in goods and services with the EU was valued at $76.4 billion, a 5 per cent increase over 2005-06. While Australia has a high value of imports from Europe, we also earn substantial export dollars from a diverse range of Australian products and services, including Australian wine, medicines, education and infrastructure services and in-bound tourism. At the end of 2006, EU investment was worth $107 billion – higher than any other source of foreign direct investment. At $73.7 billion, the EU represents Australia’s second largest destination for direct investment and a vital market for Australian business. As many European companies will attest, there are sound reasons to be doing business with, and investing in, Australia. Australia’s robust economic conditions offer a stable and reliable business environment to support expanded EU trade and investment. Over the last 17 years the Australian economy has achieved some of the fastest growth rates in the industria- lised world. This, along with a skilled workforce, a strong track record of tax and regulatory reform, low tariff and other barriers to trade, and a com- mitment to innovation make Australia an ideal destination for EU companies ready to do business. Australia’s location also makes it an appealing destination as a bub to South-East Asia. Australia has Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) with New Zealand, Thailand, Singapore and the United States, and is currently nego- tiating FTAs with China, Japan and ASEAN nations. Australia has a wealth of experience in working with major regional countries such as Indonesia and a network of strong relationships across the Asia Pacific. Increasingly seen as a key financial services hub, Australia is well placed to serve as a springboard for European businesses into the region. Australian and European businesses play a vital role in promoting the com- mercial and people-to-people links that help build and continuously rede- fine a relationship rich in opportunity. I take this opportunity to encourage the readers of European Australian Business 2008 to continue their spir- ited contribution to our increasingly dynamic and growing commercial re- lationship. The Hon Kevin Rudd MP Prime Minister of Australia The Hon Kevin Rudd MP, Australian Prime Minister 4