Trade and investment

Weitere Intensivierung unserer Kontakte auf gutem Weg

Die bevorstehenden Ostertage geben mir Gelegenheit, einen kurzen Blick zurück auf unsere Aktivitäten im ersten Quartal des Jahres zu werfen – wir sind dabei auf gutem Weg, die einzelnen Punkte der Empfehlungen der Australia Germany Advisory Group mit Leben zu erfüllen und umzusetzen.

Nachdem wir Anfang März unsere Kontakte und unseren Dialog mit deutschen Partnern im Umfeld des Internationalen Frauentages vorangebracht haben, konnten wir mit zwei weiteren großen Veranstaltungen in unserer Botschaft ein Publikum erreichen, das sich für Australien als Reiseziel und als Land mit attraktiven Studien- und Forschungsmöglichkeiten interessiert.

Gemeinsam mit dem in Frankfurt arbeitenden Team von Tourism Australia haben wir bei uns zur ITB – der alljährlichen großen Touristikmesse in Berlin – ein Programm präsentiert, bei dem vielfältige Facetten der Reisedestination Australien aufgezeigt wurden. Mit dabei waren Repräsentanten einer von Tourism Australia koordinierten Indigenous Roadshow für direkte Gespräche und Austausch mit Vertretern der deutschen Reisebranche. Musikalisch wurde der Abend unterhaltsam begleitet von der australischen Comedy-Rock-Band The Axis of Awesome, und der bekannte australische Koch Andrew Fielke sorgte für besondere kulinarische Erlebnisse.

In ebenso guter Zusammenarbeit mit dem Frankfurter Büro von Austrade haben wir eine Woche darauf bei uns ein Research and Innovation Forum durchgeführt. Die Forschungslandschaft Australiens wurde dabei mit zahlreichen Fallbeispielen vorgestellt, und australische Universitäten haben sich interessierten Studenten präsentiert. Ein schönes Beispiel für unsere Zusammenarbeit in diesem Bereich hat sich zufällig am gleichen Tag in den Medien gefunden – schauen Sie selbst z.B. unter ABS News und Spiegel Online.

Nicht vergessen möchte ich den Besuch unseres Justizministers Michael Keenan in Berlin letzte Woche. Er hat hier teilgenommen an der Konferenz zur Bekämpfung von Antisemitismus, hatte aber auch Gelegenheit für zahlreiche bilaterale Gespräche mit Vertretern der deutschen Regierung, darunter Innenminister de Maizière.

Für die Ostertage wünsche ich allen Lesern hier auf dieser Seite des Globus eine schöne Frühlingsstimmung und allen, die in Australien sind, einen guten Herbstanfang.

Strengthening Australian-Swiss Economic Ties: New Austrade Office in Zurich

I am delighted to welcome a new addition to the Austrade network in Zurich, reflecting the increasingly dynamic relationship and ever deepening ties between Australia and Switzerland. Trade and Investment Minister Andrew Robb marked the opening of the new Austrade office during his visit to Zurich on 19-20 January 2016, ahead of his attendance at the World Economic Forum in Davos.

Australia and Switzerland share many common political and economic values and interests. A key element of our contemporary relationship is Switzerland’s significant investment in Australia. Switzerland represents one of our largest investment markets and our economic ties with Switzerland are strengthening and growing. While the Swiss market has been well serviced by Austrade’s Frankfurt office, now is an opportune, and indeed exciting, time to further consolidate Australian-Swiss economic ties through an Austrade office in Zurich.

The office will complement existing strong bilateral ties in the areas of scientific research and development, education, and two-way investment. The Zurich office will work primarily on expanding Austrade’s network into the Swiss market and on driving the investment agenda across priority sectors.

Nicolas Bentel will head up the new Austrade office. Nicolas joins Austrade from UBS in Zurich, where he was most recently the Head Investment Specialist for the Latin American team and a member of the Regional Advisory Committee for Global Emerging Markets. Nicolas will work closely with me and my colleagues at the Australia Embassy in Berlin and the Australia Swiss Chamber of Commerce.

 

 

I am delighted to welcome Nicolas to Zurich and embrace this new opportunity to strengthen Australian-Swiss relations through this valuable addition to the Austrade network.

 

Cities and the Built Environment: Germany and Australia Learning from Each Other

We were delighted to welcome the Hon Jamie Briggs MP, Minister for Cities and the Built Environment, for a visit to Munich last week focusing on Munich’s approach to integrated planning, housing, public transport and accessibility, innovation and economic growth.

Munich is Germany’s third-largest city and one of its fastest-growing, with a current population of 2.8 million in the Greater Munich area, projected to grow to 3 million by 2030. Munich shares many similarities with a number of Australia’s fastest-growing cities, and the Minister was keen to understand how the city has managed its recent growth, as well as its approaches to the integration of migrant communities.

A highlight of the Minister’s visit was the meeting with Dr Marcel Huber MdL, Head of the Bavarian State Chancellery and State Minister for Federal and Special Affairs, where the Minister heard about Bavaria’s approach to integrated planning, as well as the significant integration challenges arising from the recent influx of asylum-seekers to the region.

Photo of Minister Briggs with Dr Marcel Huber MdL, Head of the Bavarian State Chancellery and State Minister for Federal and Special Affairs standing next to each other

Minister Briggs with Dr Marcel Huber MdL, Head of the Bavarian State Chancellery and State Minister for Federal and Special Affairs

 

The Minister’s meeting with representatives of the Chamber of Industry and Commerce for Munich and Upper Bavaria (IHK) focused on trade and investment, innovation and the collaboration between universities, institutes and industry in Bavaria. Minister Briggs said Australia was keen to collaborate more with Germany on innovation and commercialisation, and agreed we should do more to boost trade and investment, including exports of Australian wine to the Bavarian region.

Minister Briggs stands next to Peter Driessen, Managing Director IHK Munich. They have exhanged gifts and hold them in their hands. Briggs has received a Bavarian cup and Driessen holds a wrapped package.

Minister Briggs and Peter Driessen, Managing Director IHK Munich

A discussion with representatives of the Munich Transport Company (MVG) offered insights into the city’s highly successful integrated approach to public transport and urban planning. At the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF), the Minister heard about Munich’s experiences with the integration of asylum-seekers in the region, including the importance of targeted language courses, training and skills recognition to promote quick integration into German society.

During the discussions, Minister Briggs highlighted the warm and longstanding people-to-people links between Australia and Germany, including in his South Australian electorate. Echoing the recommendations from the recent report of the Australia-Germany Advisory Group, Minister Briggs emphasised that Australia wanted to build on these existing links to strengthen bilateral ties.

Bilateral relationship in renewed focus

With the European summer holidays now in full swing, I wanted to look back at a very exciting series of important events in the bilateral relationship that took place during July.  We have rarely had so much serious and welcome attention in Germany on ways in which we can strengthen and expand the already very good linkages between our two countries.  It’s a great time for Australian-German relations!

Before July, however, I should just note the excellent seminar that took place on 16 June here in Berlin on the Australia-Germany relationship.  The seminar was arranged by the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung and brought together experts from both countries and other friends of Australia.  I, of course, greatly appreciate the Stiftung’s hosting of this extremely interesting event and hope that we can continue the process initiated by the seminar in the future.  I was very pleased to have had the opportunity to participate in that very useful discussion (www.kas.de).

From 30 June to 2 July a very high level Australian delegation from the Europe Australia Business Council visited Munich.  The Australian Finance Minister, Senator the Honourable Mathias Cormann, accompanied that delegation.  Their program included calls on a wide range of German businesses and organisations based in Bavaria, including Siemens, Allianz, BMW and the Fraunhofer Institute, and Senator Cormann and the delegation also met the Bavarian Deputy Ministerpräsident and Minister for Economic Affairs, Media, Energy and Technology, Ilse Aigner.

The following week, from 7 July, the focus shifted to Berlin, where, in the lead-up to the first joint meeting on 10 July of the Australia-Germany Advisory Group set up by Prime Minister Abbott and Chancellor Merkel, a substantial Australian business delegation, led by Senator Cormann, undertook a very intensive business program with German companies, ministries and organisations to discuss ways of further expanding our trade and investment relationship.  Members of that delegation also participated in a very interesting business program throughout Germany arranged by the Australian Trade Commission, focusing on specific sectors with really good prospects for future business between us.  In addition,  during his time in Berlin Senator Cormann met Deputy Chancellor Gabriel and his Parliamentary Secretary, Dr Beckmeyer, Finance Minister Schäuble and the Minister for Education and Research, Professor Wanka, to exchange ideas on further cooperation between our two countries and to discuss current international economic issues.

Senator Cormann also made a major speech at a very well-attended event organised by the Konrad Adenauer Foundation on 9 July on “The Australian-German relationship and Opportunities Moving Forward” (for full text, see www.financeminister.gov.au/speeches/2015/0709-konrad.html).  This was followed, that evening, by a large reception co-hosted by the two Co-Chairs of the Australia-Germany Advisory Group, Senator Cormann and Minister of State Professor Maria Böhmer, at the Reichstag, at which we had the privilege of listening to some wonderful Australian musicians playing in that superb and historic building, including guitarists Slava and Leonard Grigoryan, who made a stop in Berlin on their way to a concert in Saarbrücken and presented some of their exciting duo pieces, and violinist Stanley Dodds and pianist Kathryn Bolitho, who performed a mixed German-Australian program with works by Johannes Brahms and Peter Sculthorpe.

As mentioned earlier, the Australia-Germany Advisory Group held its first joint meeting in Berlin on 10 July.  The meeting, which I attended, saw a considerable meeting of minds on ways forward for our relationship and there was a substantial exchange of ideas on ways in which to do this.  It was incredibly stimulating to be there!  Prior to the meeting, the members of the Group had been able to meet very briefly with Chancellor Merkel and to have a lengthy discussion with the Head of the Federal Chancellor’s Office, Minister Peter Altmaier.  This very high-level attention to the work of the Group just underlines how important an initiative it is and sets the scene for a very interesting and substantive report to the two leaders later this year.  The next joint meeting of the Australia-Germany Advisory Group will take place in Australia in the next few months, probably in October.

It was a seriously interesting series of events and a tremendous privilege to have been there!

And here are a number of images from our various events, showing Senator Cormann speaking at the Embassy; meeting German Federal Economics Minister Sigmar Gabrial along with members of the Australia-Germany Advisory Group; at the Konrad Adenauer Foundation, along with German MP Volkmar Klein, KAS Deputy Secretary General Dr Gerhard Wählers, and myself; Slava and Leonard Grigoryan performing at the Reichstag; Stanley Dodds and Kathryn Bolitho; Senator Cormann meeting Federal Chancellor Dr Angela Merkel, along with State Minister Professor Maria Böhmer; and the Advisory Group at the Chancellery and at the Foreign Office.

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German-Australian Symposium in Berlin

This week I had the pleasure of taking part in the Konrad Adenauer Foundation’s German-Australian Symposium held here in Berlin. The Konrad Adenauer Foundation (KAS) is the political foundation affiliated with Chancellor Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union and has nearly 80 offices around the world. Though the Foundation has run a variety of events promoting German-Australian relations in the past, this is the first time that they have held a German Australian Symposium.

The event brought together leaders from business, academia, government and media from both our countries to discuss what a 21st century relationship between Australia and Germany should look like.

Ambassador David Ritchie, Professor Dr Maria Böhmer, Dr Gerhard Wahlers, Alan Stockdale und Volkmar Klein

Ambassador David Ritchie, Professor Dr Maria Böhmer, Dr Gerhard Wahlers, Alan Stockdale und Volkmar Klein (L-R), Photo: KAS

We were very fortunate to have the participation of Professor Dr Maria Böhmer, Minister of State at the Federal Foreign Office and Co-Chair of the Australia-Germany Advisory Group. The Advisory Group was established by Chancellor Merkel and Prime Minister Abbott and is due to report to both leaders before the end of the year. Australian Finance Minister Mathias Cormann, who will soon visit Germany, is the Co-Chair of the Australian side. She spoke about how, in a globalised world, distance doesn’t matter. Despite our geography we have many common interests and shared values.

Professor Dr Maria Böhmer, Minister of State at the Federal Foreign Office and Co-Chair of the German Australia Advisory Group, standing behind a posium and giving a speech.

Professor Dr Maria Böhmer, Minister of State at the Federal Foreign Office and Co-Chair of the German Australia Advisory Group, Photo: KAS

I spoke about the warm and friendly relationship that our two countries share, noting that, despite the good will on both sides, there is much more that the world’s 4th and 12th biggest economies can do together. The Symposium covered a diverse range of topics. Not only were the big global issues of national security discussed, we also got the chance to see where we can learn from each other in areas such as research, immigration and ways to we can cooperate in the Asia Pacific region. There was also detailed discussion about ways to strengthen our trade and investment relationship.

Ambassador Ritchie steanding behind a podium and holding a speech at KAS

Ambassador David Ritchie, Photo: KAS

I’d like to thank the Konrad Adenauer Foundation very warmly for hosting the event and also extend my thanks to those who took part. I was particularly impressed with the breadth of the discussion. At the event itself you could feel the warmth of our nations’ friendship. Still, as the Symposium highlighted, there is a lot more that we could do together. We need to be brave and make our relationship even stronger, warmer and deeper.

German-Australian Symposium

German-Australian Symposium, Photo: KAS

“Alumni Networking” und der “6th Australian-German Science Circle” – Bildung und Forschung in Australien

Wie vorigen Juni schon stand diese Woche – zur Mitte des Sommersemesters der hiesigen Universitäten – bei uns im Blickpunkt eine Reihe von Veranstaltungen zum Thema Bildung und Forschung in Australien. Dabei geht es uns insbesondere auch darum, die Studienlandschaft in Australien vorzustellen und Alumni australischer Universitäten in ein Netzwerk einzubinden.

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Mädchen schaut sich Informationsmaterial an. Das material ist auf Tischen im Innenhof der Australischen Botschaft ausgelegt.

Alumni Networking Event in der Australischen Botschaft

(Fotos: Kate Seabrook)

Zunächst kam eine größere Anzahl Gäste in der Botschaft zu einem Alumni Networking zusammen, mit Präsentationen zweier ehemaliger deutscher Studenten der University of Queensland und der University of Melbourne, die heute in verantwortlichen Positionen der deutschen Bundesregierung sind: Dr. Rudolf Teuwsen vom Bundeskanzleramt und Dr. Stefan Klose vom Bundesumweltministerium erzählten in sehr anregender Weise von ihren Studienerfahrungen in Australien. Dabei habe auch ich selbst als Alumnus der University of Queensland noch sehr viel über die Arbeit der Naturwissenschaftler dort erfahren können – in diesem Fall konkret über die Lebensbedingungen der Flying Foxes in ihren riesigen Kolonien in den Bäumen im Hinterland von Brisbane.

Dr. Stefan Klose vom Bundesministeriums für Umwelt, Naturschutz, Bau und Reaktorsicherheit steht am Rednerpult und hält einen Vortrag, hinter ihm ist eine Leinwand für den Powerpoint-Vortrag abgebildet

Dr. Stefan Klose, Bundesumweltministerium (BMUB)

Dr. Rudolf Teuwsen vom Bundeskanzleramt. In der Hand hält er ein Reclam Heft, um zu zeigen, was er dort studiert hat - Philosophy (Thomas von Aquin).

Dr. Rudolf Teuwsen, Bundeskanzleramt

(Fotos: Kate Seabrook)

Außerdem berichtete ein leitender Manager des Entsorgungsunternehmens Remondis – in seiner Sparte eines der führenden der Welt – über die Erfahrungen seines Unternehmens in Australien und wie seine Tätigkeiten dort den technologischen und logistischen Austausch zwischen unseren Ländern befördert hat.

Torsten Weber, der Managing Director bei REMONDIS International hält einen Vortrag am Rednerpult. Hinter ihm steht eine Leinwand für seine Powerpoint-Präsentation.

Torsten Weber, Managing Director REMONDIS International

(Foto: Kate Seabrook)

Fortgesetzt haben wir diese Kontakte zur akademischen und universitären Welt mit einem Frühstück mit australischen Humboldt-Stipendiaten, dem sich am gleichen Tag noch unser 6th Australian-German Science Circle anschloss. Dies ist eine nun schon traditionelle Reihe von Zusammenkünften von Vertretern aus Fachkreisen, bei der führende australische Wissenschaftler über ihre Arbeit und ihre Perspektiven auf die Hochschulwelt berichten. Dieses Mal war bei uns der Präsident der University of Queensland, Professor Peter Høj, zu Gast, der über „Excellence is essential but not enough: How to get to Excellence plus!“ sprach und damit eine angeregte Diskussion einleitete.

Gruppenfoto, Botschafter mit ehemaligen australischen Humboldt-Stipendiaten

Gruppenfoto mit australischen Humboldt-Stipendiaten

Zwischendurch war ich noch in Frankfurt und habe bei der German Australian Business Council über den Stand unserer derzeitigen Wirtschaftsbeziehungen gesprochen – eine Woche mit typischer Abwechslung also.

Travelling in Germany for visits spanning heritage and technology issues

The last two weeks provided opportunities for me to visit two regional German centres covering issues ranging from heritage links to the latest developments in transport technology.

On Friday 18 May, I travelled to Wiesbaden to attend a wonderful ceremony, hosted by the Hesse State Minister for Culture, Boris Rhein, at which I accepted on behalf of the Birch family a Royal Australian Air Force hat badge that belonged to Flight Sergeant Ernest Hugh Birch. Flight Sergeant Birch, a 21 year old from Bunbury in Western Australia, was the only Australian crew member of a Halifax Bomber who was killed with three of his comrades when their bomber was shot down over Germany during the Second World War. The hat badge was rediscovered in 2014, 70 years after the crash, during an investigation of the site by Hesse Archaeology.

Four persons, including the Ambassador (second from the right side), are standing around a table. On the table there is a photo ofFlight Sergeant Ernest Hugh Birch and a a Royal Australian Air Force hat badge.

Ceremony at which I accepted on behalf of the Birch family a Royal Australian Air Force hat badge. (Photo B. Steinbring, hessenARCHÄOLOGIE)

Prior to the handover ceremony I had the opportunity to visit Hesse Archaeology, where I met and thanked a number of the archaeologists who participated in the dig and the conservation specialists who cleaned and preserved the hat badge. I really enjoyed the opportunity to speak to the very passionate members of the team and to discuss the excavation of the bomber site and some of the other amazing archaeological finds that have been made in Hesse over the years.

We are in the process of making arrangements to have the hat badge returned to the Birch family in Western Australia. I want to pass on my sincere thanks to Hesse State Minister for Culture Boris Rhein and Dr. Udo Recker from Hesse Archaeology for their hospitality and efforts to ensure that Flight Sergeant Birch’s hat badge makes it way home.

Photo of a Royal Australian Air Force hat badge

Royal Australian Air Force hat badge (Photo B. Steinbring, hessenARCHÄOLOGIE)

Last week I also accompanied Australia’s Deputy Prime Minister, The Hon Warren Truss MP, Minister for Infrastructure and Regional Development, to the International Transport Forum (ITF), held in Leipzig. The ITF is held annually, and Australian ministers attend when the opportunities arise. It provides a great opportunity for Ministers to meet and help better connect people in their own countries and throughout the world. Deputy Prime Minister Truss spoke on panels about a number of modern transport policy challenges, from how to regulate shipping to drones (a cutting edge transport technology). He also used the gathering of fellow transport ministers to meet with his counterparts from the European Commission, Germany, France and Japan – all of whom had interesting thoughts on how to use infrastructure projects and new technologies to better connect us. For me personally, it was interesting to visit Leipzig and see the immense transformation the city has gone through in the 33 years since my first visit. Some people are referring to it as the ‘new Berlin,’ and I expect its future is bright.

Different people sitting around a panel and talking at the International Transport Forum

International Transport Forum

Minister Truss standing next to the German Federal Minister for Transport and Digital Infrastructure; Alexander Dobrindt MdB

Minister Truss (left) and the German Federal Minister for Transport & Digital Infrastructure; Alexander Dobrindt MdB.

 

Minsiter Truss standing next to EU Commissioner for Transport, Ms Violeta Bulc.

Minister Truss and the EU Commissioner for Transport, Ms Violeta Bulc.