02 Aug

100 Days Reflection – Louise Cantillon, British Consul General NSW and Deputy Trade Commissioner, Department for International Trade, Australia and New Zealand

100 Days Reflection – Louise Cantillon, British Consul General  NSW and Deputy Trade Commissioner, Department for International Trade, Australia and New Zealand

I can’t believe I am already a 100 days into the role, they do say time flies when you are having fun… I was delighted to join you for a virtual cup of tea last Thursday, but I do hope that the next time we meet it will be in person!  After my first 100 days here is a  summary of my main reflections.  

Bi-lateral relationship

I have been made to feel extremely welcome in Australia and I am really struck by the warmth and enthusiasm there is for the bi-lateral relationship. There are deep links between our two nations as we are bound by common values and our shared beliefs in democracy and free trade. We are already collaborating together across a huge range of areas whether it is the movement of our people, education, science and innovation, culture, defence, climate and of course trade. We are Australia’s fifth largest trading partner and the second biggest investor on the ground here.

A key milestone in my first few months has been the Agreement in Principle for the UK-Australia Free Trade Agreement. This was a symbolic moment as the UK’s first deal we have negotiated from scratch since leaving the EU in 2020. Benefits include removing tariffs on all UK exports to Australia, deepening market access for service providers, creating new opportunities in tech and innovation and easing mobility of people. As the UK continues its journey as an independent trading nation, I want the activation of the UK-Australia FTA to be exemplary!

Learning about Australia

Did I mention those parking tickets?  Seriously, I have found my first few months here fascinating. In many ways we are so similar yet also so unique. I am still learning about the differing federal and state systems and the individual nuances/ offers for each state and territory. The teams across our UK in Australia network (based in Canberra, Brisbane, Melbourne, Sydney and Perth) together with the Chamber have been invaluable in guiding me through this and introducing me to the relevant people. I can’t wait to get out and visit and meet more companies, people and governments from all corners.

Australia’s geographic position and the geopolitics in the region are really interesting. By 2030 two thirds of the world’s middle class will be in Asia, one of the reasons behind the UK’s strategy of an Indo-Pacific tilt. We are currently in negotiations to join  the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for TransPacific Partnership (CPTPP), of which Australia is one of eleven current members. Joining CPTPP puts Britain at the heart of one of the most dynamic free trading areas  in the world. It will provide an opportunity for the UK to work alongside Australia and other members to advocate for our shared values.

Potential

In my next phase of work I want to explore further areas of potential – and I know there are many.  We already have a successful UK-Australia Fintech Bridge which has helped over 70 fintechs do business in  both countries, we have recently established a Space Bridge, we are pioneering a Digital Trade Network in the region and we will soon launch the UK/Australia Season . More to follow on all of this!

One of my personal objectives is to ensure that our activity is as inclusive as possible. This applies right across the board with us being inclusive and diverse regionally, with SME’s, on gender, LGBTQ+, with indigenous communities and other ethnic minority groups and so on.

There is also an opportunity to do more to highlight the talent and enthusiasm of our young business leaders, whose passion for sustainability and equality inspires me. With the UK hosting COP26 later this year, we are uniquely placed to engage further on the issues of climate, sustainability and clean growth.

As I said during the session it’s great to hear feedback and suggestions from you on how we can work together- so please keep them coming.

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