17 Dec

'Companies excited by trade deal post-Brexit' Glenda Korporaal, The Australian

Australian companies with exposure to Britain are looking forward to the prospect of a free-trade agreement with the UK following last week’s landslide election victory by Conservative Party leader Boris Johnson.

“We are looking forward to learning more about how the new government will operate, including the planned commencement of trade negotiations between the UK and Australia,” a spokesman for Lendlease told The Australian on Monday.

Lendlease has major exposure to the British property market having secured urbanisation projects worth more than $33bn over the past two years.

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These include the $10.4bn redevelopment of Euston station, the $14bn redevelopment of Silvertown Quays, in former London docklands warehousing, and the $2bn High Road West urban regeneration project in North Tottenham.

While an FTA could see more sales of Australian products such as beef, wine, gold, lead and gems to Britain, analysts said on Monday that last week’s election brought a new political certainty to Britain that would make business more attractive for Australian investors including Lend­lease, the Macquarie Group, Australian Super and industry super fund organisation IFM ­Investors.

Lendlease has been a long-time investor in Britain, where it has become a specialist in urban regeneration and social housing projects.

“Britain is one of the world’s most resilient investment destinations,” the Lendlease spokesman said.

The election also removes the risk of potential nationalisation of former public assets mooted by Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, which could have affected Australian infrastructure investments in Britain.

IFM owns Anglian Water, the Manchester Airports group, the M6 toll road near Birmingham and communications infrastructure company Arqiva.

Australian Super has more than $2bn in property investments in Britain or 20 per cent of its total property portfolio.

The chief executive of the Australian British Chamber of Commerce, David McCredie, said any FTA between Australia and the UK would have a strong emphasis on increasing trade in services.

“Australian farmers will be very keen to put more red meat on British tables, but Australia will also be very keen to work with the British on a range of different service sector industries.”

 

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