Jul 2017
Mon, 17 Jul 2017

CEO Message July 2017

Article by Niels Marquardt
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AmCham has been a hive of activity over the last month, with a busy schedule of trade missions, advocacy initiatives and our ever-lively events program around the country!

As I mentioned in my previous message, the sudden changes to Australia’s 457 visa program in April galvanised the AmCham community in an unprecedented way. I am glad to say that the lobbying efforts in June by engaged members of the AmCham Board have paid off – subsequent updates to the skilled occupation lists for the successor program to the 457 that came into effect on July 1 heeded much of our input. We still believe strongly that Australia should create a separate visa category just for intracompany transfers, akin to the U.S. L-1/2 visa. There also ought to be serious consideration of creating an Australian equivalent to the American E-3, a truly special visa for which only Australians are eligible.  You can read about the announced changes on our website here. As much as many of the changes are welcome proof that government listens to business here, few AmCham members consider the issue to be fully resolved. In the coming months AmCham will continue to make the case for further facilitating skilled migration, especially within multinational corporations that continue to contribute so much to the rich fabric of Australia’s economy and society.

Meanwhile, our advocacy efforts on trade and taxation issues continued in Washington last month on our annual Washington Doorknock. Our Australian delegation this year was the largest from any Asia-Pacific country, and included representatives from well-known companies like GE, eBay, and Swisse Wellness. We all witnessed the ongoing evolution in Washington under President Trump, and met a number of his appointees and collaborators – although, to be honest, so many positions in the new administration remain unfilled that in many cases there was simply no one for us to see yet.  The big takeaway was confirmation that the top priority in the US Congress – once health care reform has been achieved, or not – will be comprehensive tax reform.  This is something we AmCham’s championed with all our might during the Doorknock, especially the need for territorial treatment of both companies and individuals.  We were generally encouraged by what we heard in reaction to our pleading.

While in Washington, we all enjoyed a very candid session with Australian Ambassador Joe Hockey and his team, and were impressed by the prominent position in which they have placed Australia before the new administration. Australian expertise on infrastructure “asset recycling” has the US government looking to Australia for guidance, experience, and inspiration as they consider how to address America’s manifold infrastructure challenges.  This has created a huge opportunity for Australian business.  We therefore are teaming up with Ambassador Hockey and Austrade to return to the United States on a trade mission in October, led by the Ambassador, to further explore this opportunity. We all welcome your interest in participating with us; check this link for details.

Hot off the press, our major research study with the US Studies Centre on the role and contributions of US investment in Australia will be rolled out in a national roadshow in Sydney, Canberra, Melbourne, Adelaide, Perth and Brisbane kicking off on August 14. The details of these events are on our website.  Please plan to join us as the research team unpacks the compelling findings from this project. We look forward to a constructive and informed conversation about foreign investment in Australia in the near future.

In addition to the Infrastructure Mission mentioned above, I would also like to draw your attention to two other trade missions to the USA which are right around the corner!  We are running a Defence and Aerospace Mission October 15-20 with meetings planned at the leading private defence companies and US government agencies in Virginia, Washington DC and Alabama (where we plan to visit both Austal and Airbus facilities). Plus, our annual Innovation Mission returns October 29 – November 3 with visits to a range of the most successful innovators of all shapes and sizes in Boston and Silicon Valley. We have extended our early bird deadline for both missions to Wednesday, 26 July so please contact us to secure your place today!

Upcoming Events

NSW – John Durkan, Managing Director, Coles (July 27)
The Hon. Gladys Berejiklian, Premier of NSW (Nov 10)

VIC – Panel Event: Changes to US/China Trade Policy (August 16)

SA – Jacqui McGill, Asset President – Olympic Dam, BHP (August 4) 

QLD – Panel Event: Corporate Philanthropy (August 11)

WA – The Hon. Bill Johnston MLA, Minister for Mines and Petroleum; Commerce and Industrial Relations; Electoral Affairs; Asian Engagement (August 29)
Reserve Bank of Australia Governor Dr. Philip Lowe (Sept 21)

NT – Chief Minister The Hon Michael Gunner MLA (Sept 8)

New Members in July 2017

Since my last message, we are pleased to welcome the following new members on board: Westfield Group, Banki Haddock Fiora Lawyers, Corporate Traveller, Cassin and Sons Aust, Littler Mendelson, Brave Training, The Fred Hollows Foundation, New Zealand Consulate-General Sydney, Aspect Environmental, Lumen and Co, Nakd Numbers, Investment Attraction South Australia, The New York Times, AnswerCrowd, Hawker Britton, Anna Whitlam People, Ricky Nowak & Associates, SNC-Lavalin and Optika SolutionsPlease view our newest members here. If you are not already a member of AmCham, now is the time to join and increase your access to opportunity for 2017.

Until next time,Niels Marquardt me on twitter: @CEO_AmChamAU

P.S. If you would like to increase your access to opportunities, information and services of the Chamber, please select this link and AmCham will send you more updates with information about upcoming events, programmes and initiatives in your state.

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