Nordic companies eye WA

AUSTRALIA, and WA in particular, is coming under strong scrutiny from Nordic companies as a potential Asia Pacific base.

Australia’s Ambassador to Sweden Stephen Brady told a Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade breakfast this week that the Olympics had put us on the map.

“Now we need to translate that into something real,” Mr Brady said.

“Those companies are interested in Australia as a base because they know their employees are going to have access to top-class health care, education and a lifestyle second to none.”

He said a lot of the real business with the Nordic countries of Finland, Sweden and Denmark came from WA, thanks to Austal Ships and WA’s wineries.

“Sweden is the eighth largest market of Australian wine,” he said.

Tourism from those countries is booming exponentially.

Mr Brady said Australian companies had a good chance to become involved with some very sophisticated societies.

“Their societies are wealthy, IT-driven and as ecologically sound as any 21st Century societies can be,” he said.

“Entering Nokia’s headquarters is like walking into the year 2020. A worker can choose his or her own hours, providing the requisite hours are met.”

He said tertiary education had been Australia’s biggest success but a cooperative approach from universities was needed to maximise returns.

“After the UK, more Swedish students come to Australia than anywhere else. Australia is ahead of the US in the education stakes,” Mr Brady said.

“These are ideal students because they come fully funded and then go home.”

He said the Baltic countries of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania were not as advanced as the Nordic countries but held a lot of potential.

“These countries will be every bit as successful as their Nordic neighbours,” he said.

“They are doing well despite leading lives of fear. Estonia is leading the way for European Union membership and Latvia has completed about 97 per cent of its privatisation plans.

“All three societies have to deal with the devastation left by the former Soviet Union yet there is a strong feeling of hope.

“There is a strong Baltic community in Australia that should form the foundation for strong business links.

“These are not countries you would go and invest in right now but they are on their way.

“Universities encouraging exchange programs or offering scholarships could pay huge dividends 10 years down the track.”

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