Welsh chase WA businesses

WELSH Development Agency chairman David Rowe-Beddoe wants WA businesses to set up shop in Wales.

Mr Rowe-Beddoe, who visited Perth recently, said Wales was an ideal base from which Australian businesses could enter the European Union’s market of 350 million consumers.

Many companies have invested in Wales due to its highly skilled workforce, well-established high bandwidth telecommunications networks, property and business services.

The UK rates of corporate and personal tax are amongst the lowest in the EU. Wales also enjoys tariff-free access to Europe.

“Wales has countless economic and environmental benefits for Australian businesses including sharing a common language, a business-friendly environment, the right time zone for Europe and we’re only two hours from London,” Mr Rowe-Beddoe said.

“Since 1983, more than 400 overseas companies have invested $31 billion in Wales.

“We have twelve Australian companies currently located in Wales and have welcomed investments by AMP and the Futuris Group.

“Big names such as Nortel and Mitel are all located within a few miles of each other and Amcor has its largest overseas operating asset in North Wales.”

Wales has transformed itself from an economy historically based on coal and steel to a sophisticated manufacturing and service economy.

While more steel is actually now being produced due to automation, the Welsh economy is now attracting companies in the telecommunications, call centre, electronic commerce, electronics, biotechnology, automotive, financial services and healthcare industries.

Some have even described Wales as the UK’s Silicon Valley.

Mr Rowe-Beddoe said the aerospace sector was also strong.

“Every wing of every Airbus is made in Wales,” he said.

“Every 747 and 777 has its twelve month maintenance in Wales.

“We have highly qualified engineers and avionics specialists who work on defence craft such as Tornadoes and Harriers.

“We also have major automotive engine factories such as Jaguar, Ford and Toyota who then export to Europe.”

With only 5 per cent of the UK’s population, Wales has consistently attracted more than 15 per cent of all UK inward investment.

“We punch considerably harder than our weight,” Mr Rowe-Beddoe said.

“For instance, productivity in manufacturing is 10 per cent higher in Wales than in the rest of the UK.”

Mr Rowe-Beddoe said 40 per cent of the overseas companies that have come into Wales have re-invested.

“They have enjoyed competitive recruitment and training costs and faster set up times,” he said.

A trade mission will visit Perth in June seeking collaborative opportunities.

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