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European Australian Business : 2008
for nearly 80 per cent of our economic activity. We have more finance em- ployees in Australia than Hong Kong and Singapore combined. Australia also has the fourth largest investment fund assets pool in the world at over A$1 trillion. This presents a huge investment opportunity for European companies. Aside from our macroeconomic good fortune and our political stability in the fast growing Asia Pacific region, it is worth having a look at the drivers of our investment climate. Australia receives far more foreign investment than many other countries of a similar economic size. In the decade up to 2006 we were the fifth largest net recipient of foreign direct investment in the entire OECD. I believe there are three main reasons for the competitive advantage we enjoy over other economies in the region. First, our regulatory regime is ef- ficient, reliable and business friendly. According to the World Bank’s Doing Business 2008 report, Australia is the fastest place in the world to set up a business. Governance Metrics International has also ranked Aus- tralia first in the world in 2007 for corporate governance standards. We also protect our entrepreneurs. Our competition legislation and patent and copyright enforcement regimes are ranked among the best in the world by the IMD’s World Competitiveness Year Book. Second, our Government takes in- novation exceptionally seriously. We live in the Asia-Pacific, perhaps the most intensely competitive regional economy in the world. To enhance our competitiveness, the Australian Government is undertaking a signifi- cant review of the national innovation system with the view to identifying any regulatory barriers to innovation, establishing stronger links between public research and private sector businesses and harnessing key in- novation drivers for the benefit of industry development. Lastly, we will be delivering a new boost to our investment in skills. The Government knows that a thriving economy demands a highly skilled, highly educated workforce. It is com- mitted to delivering 450,000 new training places over the next four years and doubling the number of Australian Postgraduate Awards for PhD students to keep quality researchers in Australia and further build skills in engineering and science disciplines. Thirty per cent of our workforce is tertiary educated. The Economist In- telligence Unit ranks Australia fourth in the world for its IT skills and infra- structure. We are also multilingual, with more than a quarter of Australia’s foreword 21