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Business migrants flock to WA

WA is growing as a place of interest for those wanting to come to Australia as business or skilled migrants.

It gains about 180 business migrant arrivals each year, with the bulk coming from Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore and China. Africa is growing as a source of business migrants.

Traditionally, WA is second only to New South Wales in terms of attracting valuable business migrants and is proving attractive to expatriate professionals from Asia, South Africa, the UK and India.

However, Department of Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs figures showed WA led NSW in the three months to the end of September as a business migrant destination.

WA attracted 32 per cent of all business migrants in that time while NSW drew 24 per cent, Queensland gained 20 per cent and 17 per cent went to Victoria.

A recent survey of business skills migrants found that three years after arrival, 77 per cent were engaged in a business that employed 4.3 staff on average.

Of those businesses, 63 per cent had export earnings and 11 per cent had turnovers of $1 million or more.

The survey found the average financial investment in the business was $317,000.

Business migrants usually come to Australia as permanent migrants or on temporary visas. Under the business migration program, those on temporary visas have four years to start a business.

In WA, the Small Business Development Corporation is charged with attracting and helping business migrants.

The corporation offers the Business Migrant Incentive Program – something unique to WA.

The program offers business migrants up to $1,000 towards engaging a consultant to prepare a business proposal and 50 per cent – up to a maximum of $3,500 – for a business plan.

SBDC managing director George Etrelezis said the competition for business migrants was fierce.

Australia’s main competitors are Canada and New Zealand.

“Canada is very aggressive in trying to gain business migrants,” Mr Etrelezis said.

“The Sydney Olympics helped raise Australia’s profile as a good country to come to as a business person.

“We have currency advantages, a good education system and WA has a very attractive climate.

“Post September 11, the idea that Australia is an island nation fairly remote from the US and the Middle East has also been in our favour.”

Most of Australia’s skilled migrants came from the UK with South Africa running a close second, followed by India.

Anecdotal evidence says South Africans are flocking to WA and taking top roles in their professions, particularly in the legal field.

Freehills WA managing partner and Australian Institute of Company Directors WA council president Peter Mansell and Minter Ellison Perth office managing partner Sean Larkan are both South African expatriates.

WA also has one of the world’s largest Anglo-Indian populations. Anglo-Indians traditionally held top roles in India’s professional sectors, but many left to come to Australia in the 1960s and 1970s.

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