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European Australian Business : 2008
15 countries worldwide with the best business environment over the 5-year period to 2011. For its partners across the globe there- fore, the EU offers economic muscle power that should not be overlooked. EU-Australia trade relationship As an active trading nation, Australia also benefits from the EU’s strong, competitive economy. Although the focus in media and political circles tends to be on Australia’s trading relationships with Asian economies, in fact, the EU has been Australia’s largest two-way trading partner for over 20 years. In goods, the EU is Australia’s largest source of imports, and it ranks as the third largest export market for Austra- lian goods. Reflecting the EU’s prominence in terms of world trade in services, the EU has consistently been both the largest exporter and importer of ser- vices to and from Australia. In terms of investment, the EU also plays a leading role as Australia’s largest investor, accounting for 33% of total inward investment stock ($A480bn). This is comfortably ahead of the next largest investor, the United States, with a 25% share ($A363bn). Furthermore, the EU is also the sec- ond largest destination for Australian investment overseas, accounting for 31% of total Australian investment stocks in 2006. Developments in the EU economy, therefore, are significant from Austra- lia’s point of view, as they underpin our strong bilateral relationship in trade and investment – which is important for the prosperity of European and Australian citizens alike. From the European point of view, there are already some 2,300 EU companies with a presence in Australia, with a total estimated turnover of $A180bn or almost 12% of total sales. Such investment brings direct benefits to Australia in terms of employment, with an estimated 400,000 jobs aris- 8