Introduction

It’s great to be back in Canada with a business delegation looking to leverage new opportunities.

It’s an exciting time. Despite the recent fall in energy prices, economic momentum is returning to North American markets and Australia is forging ahead in the Asia Pacific region.

As strong trading nations with great resource and energy sectors – and agriculture for that matter – we have much in common.

In the mining and energy spaces we are logical partners not only for the exchange of goods, services and expertise, but also for investment.

The recent fall in the price of oil and gas has dampened the market somewhat but at the same time it necessitates a serious look at new investment possibilities.

As an open economy, with a modest population and thin capital markets Australia has always relied on foreign investment – and that remains the case today.

Pro-business and investment environment

As a government in Australia we are focussed creating the most conducive environment possible for business and investment.

In Australia for example we have:  removed damaging taxes; we are pursuing an aggressive deregulation agenda; we are accelerating and streamlining project approval processes; we are working to repair our budget; and we are planning record levels of infrastructure spending.

We have an aggressive trade and investment agenda, having concluded FTAs with the major economies of North Asia – Korea, Japan and China.

Like Canada we are also actively involved in TPP negotiations which are at an advanced stage – this agreement offers transformational promise.

Our overarching theme is to displace big government and support growth led by the private sector, including new investment.

Above all, as a nation we are making a concerted effort to back our strengths, the things we do as well as any and better than most.

Canadian investment

Canada is an important investor in Australia, especially in the financing and construction of infrastructure, in resources and energy – namely oil and gas – and agribusiness.

Likewise, Australia has significant investments in Canada ($54 billion) – current (total) two-way investment of more than $80 billion.

Australia is increasing its integration in the Asia Pacific – we are an ideal gateway to the region’s exploding middle class.

This is an important strategic advantage that Australia offers for investors, businesses and pension funds and the like.

Already Australia is Canada’s largest investment destination in the Asia Pacific.

Canada’s pension funds are playing an important role here.

CPPIB, for example, has nearly C$8 billion invested in Australian assets and this month purchased a 25 per cent share in Sydney’s NorthConnex M1-M2 tunnel link.

CDPQ, as well, has C$200 million invested in the Plenary Group’s projects and in a deal worth more than C$1 billion purchased a major stake in the Port of Brisbane.

Canada’s financial sector also sees promise in helping to finance Australian greenfield projects, with the Royal Bank of Canada and Scotia Bank establishing offices in Australia.

Similar patterns of interest are also apparent in other sectors.

Saputo Dairy owns 87.9 per cent of Warrnambool Cheese and Butter. 

ATCO operates and part owns three gas-fired power stations in Australia, and owns, operates and maintains the largest reticulated gas infrastructure system in Western Australia with combined networks covering around 13,500 kilometres. 

And Barrick Gold operates the Cowal gold mine in New South Wales, which produced 297,000 ounces in 2013. Barrick also owns 50 per cent of the Kalgoorlie Mine in Western Australia. In 2013, that mine produced 315,000 ounces of gold.

So our existing investment ties are indeed strong already but the future offers much greater prospects.

New prospects

I mentioned before that backing our strengths was a priority for Australia.

We have focussed our energies on several national investment priorities.

These include: advanced manufacturing and services, tourism infrastructure, resources and energy, major economic infrastructure, agribusiness, as well as education.

As well, there are several resource projects in North Australia where Canadian investment would be welcomed, especially liquefied natural gas (LNG) projects in the North-West and unconventional gas in the North-East. 

Like Australia, Canada faces a number of challenges in the extraction of mining and energy resources.  It is a vast territory with a small population facing a harsh climate, infrastructure shortfalls and skilled labour shortages.

Canadian investment in Australia, for example, can help fill resource supply chain gaps especially in the oil and gas sector.

Canada’s firms can provide capital equipment, exploration equipment, engineering services, software and advanced technologies, as well as energy, water and waste management solutions. 

Australian METS firms also represent a great source of skill and expertise that Canadian firms can draw on.

Northern Australia is an area that offers good future prospects for Canadian investment. Geographically about half our land mass, just one million people but with abundant resources, including water.

Australian government supporting development in the North and in November I will host a major investment forum in Darwin to showcase investment ready opportunities in areas like resources and energy, tourism and agribusiness.

Conclusion

The Australian economy is now in its 24th year of consecutive growth. It has a AAA rating and is forecast to be one of the best performers in the developed world this decade.

Our closer ties and integration with Asia, and our proximity to their markets, provide a major incentive to foreign investors.

It means they can bank on Australia as a stable and secure investment base while at the same time gaining direct access to the world’s most dynamic markets.

Thank you.

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