Autumn 2019 Update
In January 2019, the Victorian Government together with Austrade led a trade mission to the Paris Fintech Forum. Victorian companies joined the mission to hear from industry leaders about their expertise in blockchain, cryptocurrency and fintech. As part of the mission Fintech Australia signed a Memorandum of Understanding with France’s Finance Innovation to promote fintech collaboration.
The mission also included a stop in the UK to build on the UK-Australia FinTech Bridge arrangement established in 2018. Victorian companies met with the Royal Bank of Scotland and visited the Commonwealth Bank Innovation Lab in London and Level39 (Europe’s largest Fintech Accelerator). As part of the Fintech Bridge, Austrade and the UK’s Department for International Trade (DIT) are developing programs to support more Australian Fintech companies enter the UK. Those that have launched in the UK include Coinjar, Pinpayments, Loke, Afterpay and Airwallex.
In April, DIT announced two Fintech Bridge Pilot Programmes to connect UK businesses with Australia and Hong Kong, which includes a visit to Australia by ten UK fintech companies (Crowd2Fund, Disberse, Fractal, pirkx, Recordsure, Smart Pension, Thyngs, TradingHub, and TrueLayer) before the end of year.
Victoria is home to a rapidly growing number of internationally successful fintech start-ups including Afterpay, Square, Airwallex, Assembly Payments and Pepperstone. In March, it was announced that the industry peak body, Fintech Australia, will relocate its headquarters from Sydney to Melbourne, cementing the city’s reputation as the home of Australia’s digital technology sector. Financial services represent the largest sector of the Victorian economy, employing more than 120,000 people and contributing $47 billion per annum.
Both French and UK delegations plan to attend Intersekt Festival, Australia’s largest annual fintech conference to be held in Melbourne in October 2019. Melbourne will also host the industry’s annual national awards – the ‘Finnies’ – celebrating the achievements of Australia’s best fintech businesses.
Spring 2018 Update
With the second round of negotiations for an Australia-European Union (EU) Free Trade Agreement (FTA) scheduled for November, it is timely to reflect on the current trade relationship between Victoria and the EU.
Recently released merchandise trade statistics for 2017- 18 (Source: Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade) displayed solid and consistent growth in two-way trade between Victoria and the European Union (EU) of A$17.9 billion up from A$16.6 billion in 2016-17.
While exports have grown marginally from A$1.71 to $1.72 billion, imports have increased from A$14.8 billion in 2016-17 to A$16.2 billion in 2017-18.
Germany is Victoria’s largest merchandise trading partner in the region with A$5.2 billion in trade in 2017-18, registering consistent growth over the past four financial years, followed by the UK with A$2.5 billion, Italy with A$2.4 billion and France with A$1.5 billion.
Victoria’s major merchandise exports to the EU in 2017-18 consisted primarily of food and fibre products and increasingly, pharmaceutical products. Major merchandise imports from the EU were passenger motor vehicles, goods vehicles and alcoholic beverages.
As Victorian businesses seek to expand in the EU, steps should be taken to ensure they comply with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) adopted by the EU in 2016 and enforced from May 2018.
Businesses of any size may need to comply if they have an establishment in the EU, if they offer goods and services in the EU, or if they monitor the behaviour of individuals in the EU.
Autumn 2018 Update
Victoria’s strong pipeline of infrastructure projects is attracting growing interest from European infrastructure companies. For example, French company Bouygues established its first project office in Victoria to service the metro rail project.
During the visit to France, Victoria’s Minister for Trade and Investment met with Bouygues as well as other companies to discuss Victoria's pipeline of infrastructure projects.
In March, the Victorian Government Trade and Investment (VGTI) office in London hosted a delegation from the North East Link Authority (NELA), including Corey Hannett, Coordinator General, Major Transport Infrastructure Program, and Duncan Elliott, CEO of NELA.
The program of calls provided an opportunity for the delegation to promote the NELA project to major infrastructure companies across the UK, France, Germany and Spain. The delegation also consulted with companies on best practice models for the tendering and delivery of large-scale infrastructure projects across Europe, as well as participating in site visits to some of the world's leading transport projects, including Crossrails in London.
- The Victorian Government Trade and Investment office in London will continue to engage with key stakeholders at European infrastructure firms to facilitate investments into Victoria.
- Significant investment in Victorian infrastructure projects leads to job creation for Victorians and supports the local economy.
Summer 2018 Update
The UK’s technology sector is larger than the rest of Europe combined; it has been one of the fastest growing sectors in the UK over the last decade. The UK Government recognises the importance of the start-up ecosystem and has established several initiatives to support the sector including Tech City, £200 million funding for a network of Technology and Innovation Centres supporting the commercialisation of new technologies, Innovate UK, the UK’s innovation support agency and Nesta, the UK innovation foundation.
In line with the UK’s emphasis on ensuring its global competitiveness through digital solutions, the government released a Digital Strategy earlier this year. Part of the strategy includes widening procurement in order to lower barriers for digital and technology suppliers and increase the proportion of total sales to SMEs in the Digital Marketplace.
Opportunities for Victoria:
- The UK government’s accelerated efforts to ensure its digital preparedness presents opportunities for Victorian SMEs and start-ups to respond to this demand as part of the UK’s digital marketplace.
- The Victorian Government’s trade mission to London Tech Week from 11-17 June 2018 will enable Victorian Digitech, Fintech, Edtech, and Regtech to explore business and investment opportunities. Around 55,000 tech specialists from over 90 countries attend the festival each year.
Global Victoria has worked with the UK’s Department of International Trade to organise a "Doing Business in the UK" workshop for Victorian technology companies that was held in Melbourne in February 2018.