Brexit to spark Boomerang Boom as Aus­tralians seek greater trade links

Sunday Independent (Ireland) - Business & Appointments - - FRONT PAGE -

“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

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