British seek WA chances

THE British have landed and they are looking for business opportunities.

For the past five years trade missions from the England’s north-east region, which includes former ship building stronghold Newcastle-upon-Tyne, have been visiting WA.

One NorthEast head of business opportunities Steve Courtney said his organisation was making use of the UK Government’s Outward Mission Scheme which funded such forays.

One NorthEast is one of the largest users of the scheme.

“We run about twenty trade missions a year,” Mr Courtney said.

He said the missions to Perth had unearthed some good opportunities for British firms.

“Scheme attendees usually make their initial contacts on these missions and firm them up on another mission,” Mr Courtney said.

“They then go on and develop their relationships independently.

“Because of this it is hard to get true figures on the development of business relationships but I know we have introduced a lot of companies to this part of the world.”

Mr Courtney said the north-east was now an economy driven by small to medium enterprise.

It was the world’s first centre of industry and its economy stood on ship building and heavy industry. However, those sectors have now waned.

The UK Government is now setting up a small business support service that sounds similar to WA’s own Small Business Development Corporation.

Mr Courtney said another part of his role was to attract investment to the region.

“We have six Australian investors in the region but as yet none are from WA,” he said.

WA has been conducting reciprocal visits to the north-east region although these have been largely aimed at the oil and gas industry.

The next mission to the UK is scheduled for March.

Mr Courtney said his organisation gave some assistance to those missions but they were tied more to the Northern Offshore Federation, which deals with the oil and gas industry.

He said his organisation was responsible for introducing the Federation to WA.

“They came out with us initially but have since started running their own missions,” Mr Courtney said.

The Federation is keen to meet with its WA-based oil and gas colleagues.

It is also interested in the proposed Jervoise Bay marine industry development. Companies involved with the Federation believe they have something to offer to the development.

A great deal of the industry in the north-east region revolves around construction for the North Sea oil fields.

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