Australian Economic Update, UK

Australian Economic Update Australian Business in the UK held their regular Australian economic update on 27 November 2014 at BHP Hilton’s spectacular offices overlooking London’s Victoria station with a great view down the Thames over the Houses of Parliament. Present by the Commonwealth Bank’s Chief Economist, Michael Blythe, the update touched on a number of the issues facing the Australian economy. The Australian government is rightly proud of its 23 years of continuous economic growth, which was even sustained during the global financial crisis. There is a general worry, however, that much of this growth is based in the resources sector, Michael attempted to dispel the myth that the current boom may lead to a bust as it has done in the past. Liquified natural gas is coming on tap which has required significant capital investment in the past few years, but the returns have not been generated as the gas is only now being delivered. Australia will soon be one of the world’s major exporters – and hopefully importers will continue to pay a good price. Australia has a rising population, driven mostly by immigration from around the world. One feature of the Australian economy compared to the German economy is the importance of the construction industry. Capital expenditure in the mining sector is decreasing, but remains strong in the residential sector as new houses are built. There is a risk that the residential building sector may be overheating and it appears that the Reserve Bank may even be preparing to control the supply of mortgages for domestic property. This would be a break from its previous policy position of not using such macroeconomic tools. Michael emphasized the need for more spending on infrastructure – this will require the Federal government to take initiatives and he confirmed in a question that the senate continues to block aspects of the 2014 budget, including the treasurer’s proposals to „recycle“ infrastructure assets by selling existing assets to investors and using the returns to invest in new infrastructure. Consumer expenditure is rising, but affected by job worries. Unemployment is currently around 6% and the Australian Bureau of Statistics is forecasting a small increase whilst other indicators suggest that the number may have plateaued. Education and tourism remain important factors in the economy. The number of visitors from China has risen to around 750,000 whilst the number from Japan and the UK has declined over the past ten years. Visas to attend educational establishments are still rising, driven at least partly by the rise in the Asian middle class. Dr. Robert Harrison

Letter from the Chair

Dear Members and Friends of our Association,

as many of you will know we have recently completed the registration of our association’s change of name and I am pleased to report that the German Australian Business Council e.V. is now registered.
Earlier on this year, we adopted a refreshed Strategy and Mission Statement which better reflects the two-way, bilateral nature of our organisation and our overall ambition to provide you – our members and friends – with deep and enduring business connectivity between Germany and Australia. At the same time, a proposal was put forward to amend the name of the organisation to more precisely reflect a specific focus on two-way relationships between Australia and Germany. The Special General Meeting held in August then resolved to change the name of the association from Australian Business in Europe (Germany) e.V. to German Australian Business Council e.V.
As the German Australian Business Council e.V. we will continue to appeal to and provide a resource to German businesses, with an interest or presence in Australia and Australian businesses with an interest or presence in Germany, as well as business professionals of any nationality with an interest in bilateral relations between the two economies.
At the same time, we will of course continue to be part of the international Australian Business in Europe (ABIE) network. It is interesting to note that the core economies in mainland Europe, Germany and France, increasingly are taking a leading role in the international ABIE network as many of the participating organisations start to reflect on and refresh their objectives. Although several participating entities are considering a more bilateral approach for their respective organisiations, it was recently resolved that the name “Australian Business in Europe” be kept as an international brand which each organisation can use in addition to their own brand. A refresh of the ABIE logo is currently under way.
In Germany, we are currently completing the usual tasks associated with the change in an association’s name; Over the next few weeks, this will include changes to our website and our branding.
We look forward to continued and reinvigorated association with you in the coming years

Sabine Pittrof (Chair of the board)

New logo for new name introduces new era

To distinguish the newly named German Australian Business Council from its predecessor a new logo has been designed. The design was created by design agency Creative Republic based in Frankfurt and reflects the two-way nature of the newly refurbished organization to enhance business and cultural relationships between Australia and Germany.
The colours red, blue and yellow encompass both countries and the star represents the bright future the organization aims towards.

ABIE Germany becomes the ‘GERMAN AUSTRALIAN BUSINESS COUNCIL’

Today the new name was recognized and Australian Business in Europe  Germany officially became the German Australian Business Council.
As organizations grow and change they often need a new look and feel that reflects these developments. Late last year the board of ABIE Germany agreed it was time the name of the group reflected the activities it undertakes. So after much discussion and voting ABIE Germany became the German Australian Business Council (GABC), a title which clearly highlights the two way nature of the organization to help German business in Australia and Australian business in Germany. GABC continues as a member of the extended European Australian Business in Europe network and feel this name change will strengthen their identity in the network as well as locally.

ABIE’s 2014 Ambassador’s Dinner in Berlin

The event will take place on Thursday, 12 June 2013, starting at 6:00 pm.
The theme of the night will be „Australia’s G20 presidency: what are the implications for business relations between Australia and Germany?”
This once-in-a-year networking event will give us an opportunity to mark the introduction of H.E. Mr David Ritchie AO, Ambassador to Germany, as our new patron.
We are further looking forward to vibrant speeches by H.E. the Ambassador and Mr. Greg Ellis, CEO of the Scout24 Group.
More information about the event and the registration please contact Susanne Schnack at office@abie-germany.de until Thursday, 29th May, the latest.
We are looking forward to seeing you there!

4th Australian German Science Circle

The fourth Australia-German Science Circle was held on a pleasant September evening in the meeting room at the Australian Embassy in Berlin. Attended by ABIE Board Members, Elisabeth Opie, Class de Boer and Rob Harrison, the event focussed on science collaboration around the world. Professor Debbie Terry, Senior Vice-Chancellor of the University of Queensland focussed on how important collaboration has become in the scientific world. Australia and Germany are leaders, with many of their researchers being on papers with non-local co-authors.  Growing tripartite arrangements involving Asian-based scientists were also discussed.

Professor Terry did not really dive into the commercialisation aspects of science, except to mention one interesting statistic: in Germany, the ratio of academic researchers to technologists and scientists working in industry is 2:4; in Australia the ratio is 5:2 – almost a complete reversal. This shows the potential for increase in Australian industry science-based structure while achieving high return on investment, and indeed is being encouraged by the Australian government. There is clearly a long way to go, and targeted international teaming up of scientists would certainly help meet the challenges ahead for mutual benefit – scientifically and commercially.

The evening finished off with the usual round of drinks in the Atrium.

Ambassador Tesch Farewell Message

All good things come to an end, someone once said, and for me four wonderful years in Berlin and Germany will be coming to a close in late November, when I will be returning to Australia to take up a new role in the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade in Canberra.
But I look back with great satisfaction at the evolution of strong contacts between our two countries in recent times and recall with pleasure my involvement in a very broad range of initiatives and activities which have strengthened our relationship over the past years.  This covers both the political and trade areas, but also includes specifically joint projects in science, research and education as well as a very diverse arts program showcasing Australian creative and productive talent in Germany.
Certainly a key development has been the conclusion of the Berlin-Canberra Declaration of Intent on a Strategic Partnership in January this year.  It encapsulates the full spectrum of our mutual interests, taking our political and corporate dialogue to a new level.  The first round of high-level discussions under the Strategic Partnership agenda took place between German and Australian foreign office representatives in Canberra in early October, and thoughts are already turning to extracting the maximum value from our high-level contacts with Germany during our G20 presidency in 2014.
Also this month, the series of activities celebrating the 200th birthday of Ludwig Leichhardt will culminate with festivities both in Australia and the region of this birth, in and around Cottbus, marking the strong legacy of endeavouring explorative interest in Australia on the part of people from Germany, and illustrating the potential we share in expanding and further developing linkages in science and innovation.
I will leave Germany with incredibly warm memories from the manifold contacts I have made, and this includes the many members of the Australian expat community from a surprisingly – well, at least initially to me – variety of backgrounds.  ABIE stands out for bringing together a particular active group of this community.  It has been a pleasure and professionally rewarding to be ABIE’s patron in Germany, and I have commended the role to my successor, Mr David Ritchie AO, who looks forward to continuing our very productive collaboration.  I wish ABIE as an organisation and all its members the very best with your continuing engagement in our bilateral relationship.

Ambassador’s Message – BILATERAL RELATIONS ON A STEADY COURSE

It is a pleasure for me to again highlight a few of the developments in our bilateral relations, which broadly can be seen on a steady course following the conclusion and signing of a Strategic Partnership document in January, on the occasion of a visit to Berlin by Foreign Minister Senator Bob Carr.
The visit marked the culmination of our diplomatic anniversary year (ensuing from the first exchange of ambassadors in 1952) and refreshed our Minister’s and his German counterpart Mr Westerwelle’s joint commitment to a partnership of shared values focused on making a solid contribution to furthering the interests of the international community.
It also opened the scene for a series of activities around the 200th birthday of Ludwig Leichhardt, the iconic explorer who represents German-Australian links in such a particular way, giving us an opportunity to reflect on and showcase our strong collaboration in science and research. An early highlight was a special ‘Festakt’ commemorating Leichhardt in the Bundestag in mid February, to be followed now by a range of events in the Spreewald area, Leichhardt’s original home.
On an entirely different issue, we have been successful, finally, in conducting the first repatriation of Australian Indigenous ancestral remains from a German institution. A delegation of the Office for the Arts and Indigenous representatives from Queensland and South Australia came to Berlin in late April to collect remains from collections held by the Charité Medical Hospital. In a very memorable, solemn ceremony, the Traditional Owners and the Parliamentary Secretary for the Arts, the Hon Michael Danby MP, underlined the significance of the event and gave a strong signal to other institutions around Germany to positively consider similar returns.
It is thus encouraging for me to see substantial steps being made in a number of areas, and I am looking forward to other targeted activities taking me around Germany before completing my posting later this year.

Symposium on Sustainable Water Management during Asia Pacific Week

Excellence and Collaboration Projects between Australia and Germany
Asia-Pacific Week, Berlin, 7 June 2013
In partnership with the Australian Embassy and the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD), Austrade Frankfurt is organising a symposium on sustainable water management at Asia Pacific Week in Berlin.
Leading researchers and industry experts will showcase examples of excellence in technology and present on collaboration projects between both countries.

Please see further details with registration link under:
http://www.austrade.gov.au/Local-Sites/Germany/Symposium-on-Sustainable-Water-Management

Revised Australian Trade Mark Law

April 15, 2013, saw the entry into force of Australia‘s revised law on trade marks. The main changes are only minor, but they should have the effect of improving brand owner‘s enforcement of their trade mark rights in Australia and are also relevant for German brands down under. The main change is to simplify the system for opposing the registration of an Australian trade mark.
Australian and European laws on the registration of trade marks are very similar. In both systems, a mark trade mark has to be distinctive and not descriptive of the goods and services for which it is registered. A trade mark can also not be similar to other trade marks registered for similar goods and/or services. How this is interpreted is a matter for local law. Just to take one well-know example: the trade mark UGG cannot be registered for boots in Australia, because it is descriptive. Outside of Australia a number of companies have disputed ownership of the brand and have also fought each other on similar brand names, such as UGH boots. Similarly, Aspirin is a registered trade mark (to Bayer) in Germany, whereas in Australia a number of companies produce (almost) identical products that are sold in every drug store and no single company can monopolise the word.
The new amendments speed up and simplify the procedure for opposing registration of new trade marks. In the future trade mark owners will need to file an opposition within two months after registration of the newer trade mark (in Germany and Europe: three months), which means that they will need to be quick off the mark. The Australian Intellectual Property Office will still review marks to see if there are similar marks already registered in Australia, unlike in Germany or other European countries which generally do not carry out a search for older marks. Experience shows, however, that not all similar marks are picked up by the Australian examiner.
Once an opposition has been filed, the trade mark holder is given a chance to defend its position and the opponent can respond. The trade mark registrar then makes a decision. The registrar will give both parties an opportunity to negotiate a settlement agreement to allow, for example, the co-existence of the marks in Australia.
This new procedure should allow a decision to be made on the validity of the mark to be made more quickly than in the past. It relies, however, very much on brand owners monitoring the registrations of their marks. Such a watch service can be set up comparatively cheaply and allows holders of the marks to keep an eye on hijackers of trade mark rights around the world to take appropriate action.