Brexit to spark Boomerang Boom as Australians seek greater trade links
“In doing so, they will be taking advantage of the wide range of comprehensive Free Trade Agreements that Australia has in place with Asian economies.”
Although Australia is not a major trading partner of Ireland there has been significant growth in recent years.
Ireland imported $103m worth of goods from Australia last year and exported a total of $2.7bn – a jump from just €724m five years ago.
To put these figures in perspective, Ireland’s yearly exports to the US account for about €26bn, and the UK export market is worth about €15bn. So, there’s a lot more room for trade growth.
In terms of ‘soft power’, our links are far greater, however. About 2.4 million people in Australia (around 10pc of the population) claim Irish ancestry. Add in the cultural, sporting and tourism links (about 55,000 Irish people travel there each year for holidays or on summer work visas) and ‘soft power’ can quickly translate into hard currency.
Our principal exports to Australia are veterinary products, pharmaceuticals and scientific hardware, and our main imports are veterinary medicine products and wine. Indeed, wine is probably Australia’s most visible export success story.
Although Chilean wine is the favourite of Irish wine drinkers, accounting for 25.6pc of all wine sales, Australian wines are in second place at 17.7pc, ahead of France (12.9pc), Spain (12.3pc) and Italy (9.7pc). Ireland’s services exports to Australia were valued at €740m last year, with services imports totalling €340m.
But official statistics probably underestimate Australia’s trade with Ireland. Many goods imported into the Republic are exported via Britain and the subsequent journey to Ireland will be classified as within the EU.
The IDA has confirmed it has received significant interest from companies in Australia who are considering Ireland as an entry point into Europe following the UK’S decision to leave the EU.
A total of 45 Australian companies have already invested in Ireland, creating a combined 3,000-plus jobs.
Three major investments were announced last year which saw Australian-based firms locate their European hubs here.
Siteminder, a global travel tech firm, announced 100 jobs for Galway; animal medicine innovator Nexvet opened in Tullamore; and payroll and accounting company CXC Global set up its European headquarters in Dublin.
In the life sciences sector, Resmed Sensor Technologies – a subsidiary of multinational medical device company Resmed – is based in Clonskeagh in Dublin.
Australian investment bank Macquarie, which already has staff in Dublin, is seeking a full banking licence in Ireland as it seeks to retain access to EU passporting rights post-brexit.
John Conlon, who heads up the IDA’S Asia Pacific division, said Ireland has been successful in attracting established Australian Stock Exchange Top 100 firms as well as emerging tech companies.
Since 2009, the IDA has expanded its footprint in the Asia Pacific region – targeting the powerhouse economies of China, Japan and ASEAN markets.
The Asian market represents in excess of two billion consumers – roughly 500 times the population of Ireland and four times that of the EU. The region accounts for 40pc of global GDP and over 60pc of global consumers — with large and growing middle-class populations.
“IDA Ireland now has a team of approximately 30 people (10 in Ireland and 20 overseas) working on those ‘Growth Markets’,” said Conlon.
Another major factor contributing to improved Irish-australian trade is the so-called Boomerang Effect whereby Irish expats living in Australia decide to return home and help to set up Irish operations for their Australian employers.
For example, former Irish investment banker Niall Conlon runs a successful tech firm Eclair Group in Sydney.
He is now in the process of setting up an Irish division, with plans to increase the workforce from 15 staff to 50 by next June.
He plans to hire about 20 software developers in Ireland in a bid to win local clients and expand into Europe.
“One of the trends we’re noticing is that as the Irish diaspora return from Australia they are often presenting their Australian employers with the opportunity of opening a European operation here,” said an IDA spokesman.
“It’s a positive story for both Ireland and Australia, giving Irish natives an opportunity to return and Australian companies a chance to grow their international footprint.”
The Australian Chamber of Commerce is keen to highlight the benefits of Irish firms using Sydney and other cities Down Under as an Asia-pacific base