Cables from post: dispatches from Australia’s global diplomatic network

From Santiago de Chile: Developing sustainable mining in Ecuador

Ecuador’s mining sector has grown significantly in recent years off the back of greater investor certainty, access to cheap energy, abundant water resources and promising exploration results. The Ecuadorian Government estimates the value of Australian commitments in mining is now around $1 billion, making Australia the largest foreign investor in Ecuador’s mining sector. Australian Government agencies are highlighting Australian expertise in mining engineering and technical services, vocational education and training, and our best practice with regards to environmental protection, community engagement and mining safety. The inaugural Australia-Ecuador Business Summit held in November helped develop stronger networks and highlighted areas of potential cooperation in this thriving sector.

From Brussels: Revised financial markets regulation takes effect

In what has been described as the biggest change to global financial markets regulation in a decade, the European Union’s revised Markets in Financial Instruments Directive came into force on 3 January. Australian market supervision was found to be 'equivalent' in December, allowing EU investors to continue to trade shares on the ASX and Chi-X under the new rules.

From Singapore: Improvements to logistical services

As the linchpin of the Malacca Straits, Singapore’s geographic location makes it a natural logistics hub. In 2016, its logistics sector was worth $27 billion, making up almost seven per cent of Singapore’s GDP and contributing to the employment of around 240,000 people. Building on its natural advantage, Singapore is focusing on new technologies and investing in logistics infrastructure which could help physical goods traders get their products to customers faster and easier. One example is the National Trade Platform which will act as a one-stop trade portal for business-to-government and business-to-business services that is being rolled out in phases, commencing at the end of 2017.

Singapore skyline and ships in the sea.

From Brasilia: Music export trade mission

While Australian music is a well-established product in the more traditional markets of the United Kingdom, North America and Europe, Latin America offers significant new market opportunities for Australian music producers and exporters. Digital music revenue in Latin America grew by over 30 per cent last year, including a 57 per cent growth in streaming revenue. The Australian Government is supporting Australian music exporters seeking to capitalise on these opportunities and to grow the recognition of Australian music and artists across the region.

SOUNDS AUSTRALIA visited Brazil as part of its first Latin America Trade Mission in December 2016 and a second mission followed in November and December 2017. These visits were funded under the Australian Cultural Diplomacy Grants Program of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and were supported by Australia’s missions in Latin America.

From Canberra: Annual Investment Statement to the Parliament

Australia has long been a beneficiary of productive foreign investment, helping us to prosper as a nation and grow our important industries, Minister for Trade Tourism and Investment Steven Ciobo said in his Annual Investment Statement to Parliament in December.

Highlights of the Statement include the United States taking top place as Australia’s largest direct investor at $195 billion, representing more than 24 per cent of Australia’s total foreign direct investment stock in 2016. At the same time, interest from Japanese companies in investing in Australia has grown and is moving into areas such as digital technologies, infrastructure and financial services. In the six years to 2016, Japanese FDI stock increased by 78 per cent to $91 billion, making Japan Australia’s second largest source.

Australia’s third largest source of FDI was the United Kingdom, whose investment increased by 4.9 per cent to reach $68 billion in 2016. Direct investment stock from the European Union collectively represented $165 billion, or around 21 per cent of Australia’s total FDI stock. The Statement can be found at http://trademinister.gov.au/speeches/Pages/2017/sc_sp_171206.aspx

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade’s publication International Investment 2016 is available at http://dfat.gov.au/about-us/publications/Pages/international-investment-australia.aspx

From Chicago: World first for Bitcoin Futures

Bitcoin futures have launched for the first time globally on two key exchanges in the United States. Following applications by the Chicago-based CME Group and the Chicago Board Options Exchange, the federal US futures and options regulator, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission approved trading in bitcoin futures on 1 December, 2017.

From New Delhi: Increase in export incentives

Following a mid-term review of its Foreign Trade Policy 2015-2020, the Indian Government announced a 34 per cent increase in export incentives worth $1.7 billion in December last year. The main beneficiaries of the new incentives, which are aimed at fuelling export growth and job creation, are the labour-intensive agricultural and textile sectors and small and medium enterprises. Other announcements included a self-certification scheme to streamline duty-free procurement of inputs needed for exports. The review can be found at http://dgft.gov.in/Exim/2000/FTP-2017/ftpst17-051217.pdf

Women picking tea leaves.

From Kabul: Afghanistan’s regional integration plans

A key aim of the Afghan Government’s economic strategy is to re-establish Afghanistan as a regional trade hub. The government is pursuing closer links with neighbouring countries and greater access to foreign markets. Infrastructure investment in the transport and energy sectors will help to facilitate greater trade with Iran, India and the Central Asian nations and help meet Afghan energy needs; whilst the Lapis Lazuli Route Agreement, signed by Afghanistan, Turkmenistan, Azerbaijan, Georgia and Turkey in November 2017 will deepen integration with Central Asia and provide access to European markets.

Last Updated: 4 April 2018