Austrade and Investment into Australia’s Areas of Strategic Interest

22. květen 2017  |  Sasha Štěpánová

Australia has the world’s 13th largest economy and the combination of globally unprecedented 26 years of consecutive growth and its strategic position as a gateway to the Asia-Pacific markets, have made it greatly appealing for foreign investors.

The Australian Government welcomes foreign investment. Austrade, the government investment promotion agency, works to inform investors about growth opportunities in five areas of strength, jointly agreed by Australian and State and Territory Governments

  • Technology, services and advanced manufacturing
  • Agribusiness and food
  • Major infrastructure
  • Tourism infrastructure
  • Resources and energy

Within advanced manufacturing, services and technology, Austrade focuses on highlighting growth opportunities for investment in digital technologies, Australian medical and materials sciences and technologies

Assistance for foreign investors is available through Austrade and includes services such as:

  • Initial coordination of all investment enquiries and assistance
  • Information on the Australian business and regulatory environment
  • Market intelligence and investment opportunities
  • Identification of suitable investment locations and partners in Australia
  • Advice on Australian government programs and approval processes

In the first of a series of articles on investment in Australia, we will examine services available by Austrade and highlight recent examples of foreign investment in the key investment sectors mentioned above that have been prioritized by the Austrade and the Australian government.

This week we will look at some examples of investment in technology and certain favourable regulatory environments introduced by the Australian government to attract and support investment.

One high tech in which the Australian Government wishes to attract areas is Fintech.

The Australian Security & Investments Commission (ASIC) has recently introduced a ‘regulatory sandbox’ to provide companies in the financial services sector with flexibility to test new financial technology (fintech) products. This will allow fintech companies to take advantage of ‘class waivers’ that let eligible businesses test products without holding an Australian financial services or credit licence. Eligible businesses may notify the regulator and then commence testing without an individual application process.

The government will allocate $200,000 for promoting the country internationally as a FinTech destination and to highlight the commercial opportunities of the world’s best regulatory sandbox where innovators can test and refine their ideas.ASIC’s fintech licensing exemption allows eligible businesses to test specified services for up to 12 months with up to 100 retail clients, provided they also meet certain consumer protection conditions and notify ASIC before they commence the business.

ASIC has also released Regulatory Guide 257 Testing fintech products and services without holding an AFS or credit licence (RG 257), which contains information about Australia's 'regulatory sandbox' framework.

That framework is comprised of:

  • existing flexibility in the regulatory framework or exemptions already provided by the law or ASIC which mean that a licence is not required. Examples include existing ASIC relief for non-cash payment products like stored value cards and regulations meaning that a licence is often not required for certain foreign exchange services;
  • ASIC’s fintech licensing exemption provided under ASIC Corporations (Concept Validation Licensing Exemption) Instrument 2016/1175 and ASIC Credit (Concept Validation Licensing Exemption) Instrument 2016/1176
  • tailored, individual licensing exemptions from ASIC to facilitate product or service testing - individual exemptions of this nature are similar to the 'regulatory sandbox' frameworks established by financial services regulators in other jurisdictions.

Examples of recent international tech investment into Australia

Australia is attracting a range of high profile international tech investment. Israeli cyber security company CyberGym is relocating its global headquarters to Melbourne, generating 60 new full-time jobs over the next three years. CyberGym provides comprehensive IT security services and real-world cyber defence training to help organisations significantly improve their cyber security. The company’s training involves real-world simulated cyber security attack situations that train staff how to mitigate, contain and create resilience against cyber-attacks. US telecommunications multinational Verizon has strengthened its cyber security capabilities in the Asia-Pacific region by opening a new security operations centre in Canberra.

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