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European Australian Business : 2008
28 Astra Zeneca and Mahle all manufac- ture in Australia as part of their global supply arrangements. Whatever the route, the effect is the same. European companies increasingly recognise Australia as a mechanism for leveraging their com- petitive advantage into the Asia-Pacific region. As a fulcrum for commercial expansion into the region, Australia enjoys a broad spectrum of advantages. Culturally, geographically, legally and linguisti- cally, China is, for many companies, an unknowable quantity. Australia is, in contrast, familiar terrain. The best of east and west The country’s Western business cul- ture means European organisations feel at home here. They can tap into a deep pool of dependable management expertise and expect predictable fi- nancial outcomes. This is especially important for small and medium-sized companies that cannot wait 10 years to see a return on their investments. Australia is in the same time zone win- dow as the economic powerhouses of Asia and enjoys easy communications as a result. The country also offers cost advantages. The price of prime office space in Sydney is 70 per cent less than in Tokyo and 50 per cent less than Hong Kong. According to KPMG, business costs are lower in Australia than in Ger- many, Japan, the United States, the United Kingdom, Italy, France and the Netherlands, which partly explains the country’s productivity being above the OECD average. Indeed, Australia is ranked first in the Asia-Pacific region for industry productivity per person employed (based on purchasing power parity). The country’s commercial environment forms a glide-path between Europe and Asia. European business models prosper in Australia with relatively little adaptation. Familiar legal, regu- latory and competition regimes offer security of investments in intellectual property. At the same time, Australian businesses, particularly in the legal and financial services sectors, have a Image courtesy of Invest Australia. Australia – A competitive advantage . Image courtesy of Invest Australia.