Foreword from Vicki Treadell CMG, MVO, British High Commissioner to Australia
I am delighted to contribute to this guide and to share my views on the strategic importance of our special UK-Australia relationship. We are living in testing times, but the deep and special bond that exists between our two countries provides the foundation from which we will build shared prosperity.
Ours is a modern, diverse and innovative partnership with people-to-people links deep at its heart. Demographic change has increased the diversity of our societies and over the years our relationship has evolved. Our cultural ties may be founded on history, but they no longer look to the past. More British expats live in Australia than in any other country in the world, around 1.2 million people. Although at the moment we cannot travel between our countries, the strength and depth of our relationship means that we remain as close as ever.
The UK has now left the European Union. While our European neighbours will always remain some of our closest trading partners, the change we have chosen to make to our place in the world provides us with the opportunity to deepen our trading relationship with Australia. The Free Trade Agreement that we are currently negotiating is the clearest example of this intent. Negotiations are moving at pace and both of our governments are determined to conclude an ambitious, high-quality agreement as rapidly as possible. Although there is still much work to be done, the progress we have made so far is a testament to the alignment in our approach and demonstrates our shared ambition to keep markets open and champion free trade globally.
Though important, the Free Trade Agreement is not the end in itself. It is the trade that will be facilitated by the agreement that really matters. Australia is the UK’s 14th largest export market, with a total of £11.5 billion of goods and services exported to Australia in the year to March 2020. We are expanding our exports in sectors like renewable energy, cyber, transport infrastructure, fintech and defence. The UK is the second-largest destination for Australian overseas investment, only behind the United States, and comfortably out competing the likes of China, Japan and the major European economies. Similarly, the UK is the second largest investor in Australia, demonstrating the mutual faith we have in each other’s economies.
In a year’s time the UK will be hosting the next major international climate change conference, known as COP26. We aim to use our Presidency of the conference to encourage governments, business and civil society to tackle the greatest long-term challenge facing the world at the moment – the effect that the changing global climate will have on all of our lives. With its abundant natural resources, potential for renewable energy and wide open spaces, Australia has the potential to become one of the key players in the new global economy. The UK is already working with Australia to develop the technologies of the future that will ensure continued prosperity goes hand in hand with reducing greenhouse gas emissions. I am confident that as our two dynamic economies work together, we will both be able to play leading roles in the global economic transformation that we must make.
2021 will be a vital year for both of our countries. We hope we will soon win the fight against the COVID-19 global pandemic, but are already working to rebuild our economies. My Department for International Trade team based in Australia are ready to support British companies looking to exploit the many opportunities now available to us. Further information on how we can help you can be found at: www.gov.uk/world/australia.
I am sure you will find this guide a useful introduction to doing business in Australia and we look forward to supporting your business expansion.
Vicki Treadell CMG, MVO
British High Commissioner to Australia
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