14 Jul From Ambassador Yamagami: “After six decades, we haven’t yet hit our peak”…
More can be done to ensure that Japan-Australia economic ties reach their full potential.
Today, Japan is one of Australia’s best customers. More than half of all Japan’s coal and Iron ore is bought from Australia, as is almost half of its LNG. Closer to the dining tables in Japanese homes, Aussie cheese, beef and sugar are familiar groceries with respective market shares of 23, 45 and 82 per cent. As Australia’s second largest investor, with a total stock of $132 billion of direct investment, Japan is keen to see the Australian economy flourish.
Yet six decades on from the signing of the Japan-Australia Agreement on Commerce, we haven’t yet hit our peak. There is more Australia can offer the world’s second largest advanced economy and its 126 million consumers. For wine, there’s no better time. As of April this year all tariffs on bottled wine have been reduced to zero thanks to the Japan-Australia Economic Partnership Agreement. Likewise, Japan is seeking opportunities to provide more of its unique technology and expertise to meet the needs of Australian industries. There are already signs of this in fields such as hydrogen, infrastructure and even space.
Just as Australia aims to become a leader in the supply of hydrogen, Japan is working towards increasing its use tenfold to 20 million tonnes by 2050. The world-first Hydrogen Energy Supply Chain Project being delivered by a consortium of Japanese companies in Victoria is just one example of the dozens of Japan-supported clean energy projects underway across Australia.
I join many Australians in dreaming of the day when Japanese infrastructure expertise, including in high speed rail, dramatically transforms the way of life in this country. Already, the development of Greater Sydney has seen six different Japanese players sign agreements to partner with the state government on a range of pioneer initiatives, and Japanese involvement in the Sydney Metro Northwest project has led to Australia’s first fully automated rail network.
Japan has accumulated decades of knowledge in the field of space through the activities of its space agency JAXA. In Australia, start-ups are emerging to exploit this untapped field. The landing of Japan’s Hayabusa 2 asteroid sample collector last year is just one of many potential milestones to come for Japan-Australia space collaboration.
My message to Japanese and Australian companies is this: let’s not settle for ‘good’. When it comes to our trade and business ties, we should be pursuing ‘best’.