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On 11 December 2019, the German Australian Business Council concluded the year with a breakfast briefing focusing on our 2019 themes of the Australia- EU Free Trade Agreement (FTA) and digitalization.
We also had pleasure in welcoming Ms Anna Fedeles, the new Consul-General, Frankfurt, and Trade Commissioner with responsibility for the DACH region and the Netherlands. Anna gave an update on Austrade’s new Digital First strategy, which includes delivery of services digitally and access to wide-ranging data sources and information tools. She also highlighted the key investment priorities between Germany and Australia in sectors such as space, financial services, advanced manufacturing, mobility (as a service), defence, AgTech and energy.
Mr Jason Collins, CEO of fellow ABIE organization European Australian Business Council, then gave an update on the current status of the proposed FTA between the EU and Australia after the latest fifth round of negotiations. Against the context of the US-China trade dispute and Brexit, there is optimism regarding the negotiations as there has been significant investment growth over the years in sectors such as renewable energy and public procurement (particularly in infrastructure and defence) between Australia and the EU.
A lively discussion followed about the potential FTA benefits for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and the promotion of stronger research and innovation ties between the EU and Australia through programs such as Horizon EU.
The event concluded with a farewell from the Business Council Board to our Co-Patron Mr Dan Tebbutt, Senior Trade and Investment Commissioner, Austrade who heads back to Australia in the new year. Dan has been a positive and proactive supporter of the Council and we wish him all the best in his next role.
We thank all members and friends for your support over the year and look forward to seeing everyone in 2020.