STEVEN CIOBO: I am delighted to launch Austrade’s report Australia’s Capability in Commercial Shipbuilding and Services today.  We commissioned this report to showcase to the world Australia’s sophisticated capabilities in commercial shipbuilding. 

This report brings together in a single document details of the construction, component making and service capabilities of Australia’s commercial ship exporters, case studies of the range of vessels Australia exports, information on  how Australia’s various arms of Government assists exporters and customers for Australian commercial ships, including through our export promotion agency Austrade, and our export credit agency Efic, this initiative neatly complements another recent whole-of government initiative, our Defence Export Strategy. 

That promoted exports of (among other sectors), our defence shipbuilding sector.  Today’s launch is aimed at the promotion of commercial shipbuilding exports.

This sector is big business. In Australia, it generates around $1.7 billion a year; provides jobs for 14,600 people; helps underpin defence and commercial markets; and delivers $575 million in merchandise exports.

Nationally there are almost 2,000 registered businesses in the sector providing highly skilled, advanced manufacturing jobs. Government is doing its part to help promote the sector’s exports through the work of Austrade, and of Efic, which offers exporters an effective range of financial solutions including bonds, loans and guarantees. 

Between 2000 and June 2017, Efic underwrote approximately A$1 billion in new credit exposures to the shipping industry.  Our industry is delivering outstanding products and services to clients around the world, including markets where our Free Trade Agreements give Australian exporters an extra advantage, such as China and United States.

The China-Australia Free Trade Agreement, for example, has eliminated tariffs of 5 per cent on Australian ferry boats, excursion boats and cruise ships. It is perhaps not surprising that, as an island nation, Australians are known internationally for our innovative and flexible approach to tackling the unique challenges presented by our diverse ocean borders.

Australia has a unique set of strengths and capabilities to contribute to the rapidly growing global maritime manufacturing market which is considered to be one of the oldest, most strategic and highly competitive markets in the world.

From the complex software used to ensure the world’s largest ships don’t touch the seabed, to seemingly simple devices to make vessel handling easier, many of the latest innovations in the world’s shipbuilding industry have an Australian pedigree. Australian-made ferries, super yachts, patrol boats, fishing boats and recreational vessels are operational worldwide.

The Australian shipbuilding and services sector has much to crow about. It is Innovative and technologically forward thanks to ongoing investment in research and development, estimated at around $1.2 billion between 2000 and 2011. Our industry, and its clients have access to the latest and most efficient technology and manufacturing techniques. It is renowned for safety and manufacturing standards that are second to none.

It boasts one of the world’s best trained and most adaptable workforces, comfortable with tackling complex problems, working from design to manufacturing across everything from small tourism and work boats through to the world’s fastest ships built by Incat in Tasmania. And of course, there’s world’s best-quality marina management capability – evidenced in the excellent facilities on show here at the Gold Coast City Marina today.

This facility is getting ready to host a fleet of superyachts, attracted here by the Commonwealth Games, and the expertise and skills of this Marina’s 70 trades on-site and their 500-strong talent base of highly skilled marine related contractors.

With more than 50,000 vessels maintained, repaired or built here since it opened in 2000, the Gold Coast Marina is a perfect microcosm of everything that is great about Australia’s vibrant marine industry.

Marine Engineering Consultants started out 25 years ago, and has diversified its services from providing refits on pleasure and superyachts, to a business that is focused on boatbuilding. In the last ten years, MEC has constructed 19 luxury and commercial aluminium catamaran ferries and charter vessels for the local and international market.

And MEC is a globally successful business. With financial support from Efic, the Australian Government’s export credit agency, MEC secured a contract with a cruise operator in Fiji in June of 2016 for the supply of two 24-metre passenger catamarans worth about A$7.4 million. Austrade has also supported them with past opportunities in Vietnam.

One of our industry partners in this report, the Australian International Marine Export Group (AIMEX) and Superyacht Australia, have also done a lot of work identifying the additional flow-on tourism impacts as international superyacht crews, owners and their guests explore Australia’s tourism offerings while their yachts are overhauled in our world-class shipyards such as this one here at the Gold Coast City Marina.

Last year the Government introduced a Bill to allow foreign-flagged superyachts to charter in Australian waters, a reform that will generate an estimated $1.12 billion in additional revenue for the industry by 2021.

Here in South East Queensland alone, AIMEX estimates their sector delivers around $630.2million in Gross State Product ($194.5 million direct) and employs around 4,545 Full Time Employees (1824 direct).

I mentioned earlier the benefits of CHAFTA in eliminating tariffs on Australian boat exports.  Tariffs on other products, including some as high as 18 per cent on things such as marina equipment are also gradually falling to zero and we know Australian companies are benefiting.

Not far away from us today, Nerang-based manufacturer Superior Group is one example.

Its high-precision welded steel marina components, for example, are clearly becoming more competitive as tariffs progressively drop under the ChAFTA schedule.

Superior Group says it has already experienced a significantly increased flow of its products into the China market.

As noted earlier, the industry, is ably assisted in offshore markets by Austrade through its network of 83 offices throughout the world and by Efic

With this report, our ambassadors and trade commissioners around the world now have a great tool at their fingertips to promote Australian capability. And I congratulate Austrade on putting this report together.

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