With the Ambassador to the European Union

On the 18th of May 2016 the Board and Major Sponsors of the German European Chamber were invited to lunch with His Excellency Dr. Mark Higgie Ambassador to Belgium, Luxembourg, the European Union and NATO in a fantastic DFAT initiative to strengthen ties between Federal and State initiatives. We also enjoyed the company of many dignitaries and Consuls.

Dr. Higgie was previously Senior Adviser (International) to the Prime Minister. Before joining the Prime Minister's staff Dr. Higgie was at the Office of National Assessments where he served as the Senior Europe Analyst and later as Australia's representative on the UK Joint Intelligence Committee (London).

Having established the Ambassador’s command of a number of languages including German, we were able to report to the Ambassador some of the initiatives to improve bilateral trade between South Australia and the EU, the world’s biggest single market. This included our Chamber assisting the formulation of the State’s North Atlantic Strategy through the Department of State Development, and reporting on our own plans for a mission in 2017.

Dr. Higgie reported in turn on a significant number of initiatives at the Federal level. This included primarily the work currently undertaken for a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with the EU. The Australian Prime Minister together with the President of the European Council and the President of the European Commission agreed to start the process towards a FTA in a joint statement on 15 November 2015.

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade reports:

As a bloc, the EU is Australia’s largest source of foreign investment and second largest trading partner. In 2014, the EU’s foreign direct investment in Australia was valued at $169.6 billion and Australian foreign direct investment in the EU was valued at $83.5 billion. Total two-way merchandise and services trade between Australia and the EU was worth $83.9 billion.

The EU is Australia’s largest services export market, valued at nearly $10 billion in 2014. Services account for 19.7 per cent of Australia’s total trade in goods and services and will be an important component of any future free trade agreement. Australian and EU officials will now begin bilateral discussions on the next steps to launch negotiations. As part of this process, DFAT is seeking submissions from interested stakeholders.

Key interests and benefits:

A comprehensive, high-quality Australia-EU FTA would help to ensure our trade and investment relationship reaches its full potential

An Australia-EU FTA would remove barriers to trade in goods

An Australia-EU FTA could expand services linkages and investment ties

An Australia-EU FTA could enhance regulatory cooperation in specific sectors of interest to business.

The German European Chamber of Commerce of South Australia Inc. will lodge a submission to the FTA with the EU. For further information, please see www.gecocsa.org

Pictured: Guenter Pratz (Vice Chairman) (Left) and Henning A. Klovekorn (Chairman) (Right) of the German European Chamber, with His Excellency Dr. Mark Higgie.

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