Nov 2016
Mon, 14 Nov 2016

CEO Message November 2016

Article by Niels Marquardt
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What a week!  Few predicted Donald Trump’s victory – I certainly did not – but now we can all focus on understanding what it will mean for future business between the US and Australia.  I think we can expect the US to continue its strong leadership role in the Asia-Pacific region and that our security alliance will endure and strengthen; please take statements to the contrary with more than a grain of salt! 

Echoing my comments in The Australian last week, Australia’s business and investment ties with the US will remain as important as ever, and we can mostly expect business as usual. One area of obvious setback, however, is free trade. Expecting a Clinton victory, I had predicted the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement would be ratified by the US Congress next month; the reality is that TPP now will not even be on the agenda for the “lame duck” session of Congress.  I am therefore cancelling our planned travel to Washington for the purpose of lobbying the Congress on TPP. Once key officials in the incoming government start to be named, I and my counterparts in other regional AmChams will reach out to the incoming team.  We will want to understand the Trump administration’s trade policy priorities, and we will seek to influence them.  We never spoke previously on a “Plan B” if TPP was not ratified this year; now we must devise one that builds on common ground between our community and the next US administration.  As we work through new information and signals, I caution our community that the system of checks and balances in the US is very different to Australia: even with Republicans now controlling the White House and both houses of Congress, the Trump administration will not have a blank cheque for any element of its agenda, and some serious bargaining and compromises will be par for the course ahead.  In the meantime, AmCham will continue to engage in promoting the robust trade and investment relationship that has served both countries so well for so long.

In fact, in conjunction with the United States Studies Centre, we are launching a major study investigating the role of US foreign direct investment in Australia, as well as the reciprocal contribution of Australian investment in the US. Indeed, the United States is by far our largest foreign investor, accounting for 27 per cent of total foreign investment in Australia. Our objective is to bring the great story of this enduring relationship to the fore with a robust communications strategy, such that it becomes a more prominent part of the political narrative about FDI in Australia. We are currently seeking monetary contributions to support this effort, so I invite you to contact us if you would like to help us launch this worthy project.

In other news this month, we have just returned from AmCham’s annual Innovation Mission, which this year took us to Seattle and Silicon Valley. Visiting some of the world’s most creative companies like Tesla, Microsoft, Amazon, Twitter, Boeing, HP Inc, Intel and more was an unforgettable experience, which we were thrilled to share with a terrific delegation of Australian business leaders. We also held a successful one-day Innovation Mission in Perth last week, which showcased the organisations that are pioneering innovative thinking in WA. Next month, on December 6, we look forward to bringing you another one-day mission around Sydney which will focus on the Health and MedTech ecosystem. We will be guests for the day at CSIRO, the Garvan Institute, Fledge Innovation Labs and the Charles Perkins Centre at the University of Sydney, just to name a few. Plus, our guest at the Garvan Institute that evening will be The Hon Jillian Skinner MP, NSW Minister for Health. Please join us if you can!

Since our last message, we also travelled to Auckland for a joint Meeting of the Boards of AmCham-NZ and AmCham-Australia.  With strong support from U.S. Ambassador to New Zealand the Honourable Mark Gilbert and the AmCham-NZ Board chaired by Derek Syme of Citi, the delegation from Australia compared best practices, discussed the future of the TPP (sadly, of course, we were all wrong…), and met key players in the Kiwi government like Industry Minister Stephen Joyce.  Many of us also witnessed the latest walloping of the Wallabies at the hands of the All Blacks in Eden Park.

Elsewhere, we have many exciting events coming up right around the country. In Perth, we have Michael Utsler, COO of Woodside Energy presenting on November 18, and Chris Wilson, President (West) of ConocoPhillips Australia on December 8. In Adelaide, we have a luncheon on 25 November featuring an expert panel on Agriculture in South Australia. Melbourne is bringing you a fascinating briefing on Startups Reinventing the Energy Sector on December 7. Brisbane’s final event of 2016 will be a celebration of the Employers of Choice for Gender Equality on December 8. We also have a great line-up in Sydney with speakers like Richard Owen, Chairman of ExxonMobil Australia and an AmCham Director on November 30. Looking ahead to early 2017, we also have our annual Super Bowl networking event on February 6 – always a fantastic event! Plus, don’t miss your chance to hear from world-leading entrepreneurs like Ariana Huffington at Sydney’s World Business Forum in May 2017. Check out our website for the full list of upcoming events.

Since my last message, we are pleased to welcome the following new members: Australian Institute for Nanoscale Science and Technology, TEC-C, Xinova and Drake International. Please 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 2016 and beyond.

AmCham are now producing and publishing more relevant and interesting content than ever before. The newest edition of Access magazine is out now, and is available to view on the AmCham website. We also encourage you to view the Access BLOG and contact our office if you would like to contribute. Plus, get to know us socially on Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook! And check out the expanding library of podcasts on, many featuring CEOs and MDs of a range of AmCham member companies.

Until next time,

Niels Marquardt

Follow 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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