The French Australian Chamber of Commerce recently held its French-ANZ Business Days online conference, which a few members of Anywise attended virtually. Below are some of the topics that were covered that we thought were interesting and what SME opportunities may present themselves in the future.
Australia’s relations with France is underpinned by strong and historical links. Since 1842, there has been diplomatic engagement as well as cooperation in both World Wars.
In 2016, our connection with France grew stronger due to their country’s Naval Group winning a key role in Australia’s $80 billion future submarine project.
In Melbourne, you can see French brands and infrastructure everywhere and it’s increased in the last 10 years.
There are now over 120 French firms with offices, subsidiaries or headquarters in our city.
Some well-known French businesses in Melbourne include L’Oreal, Renault, Transdev, Alstom Transport and Lactalis.
In one of the webinars discussing our French-Australian bilateral relationship, Australian ambassador to France, Ms Gillian Bird discussed what the key emerging sectors for growth between the two nations are, which included:
- Hydrogen and critical minerals
- Renewable energy
- Energy storage
- Circular economy
- Plastics energy and e-waste
Both countries have ambitious strategies to develop our hydrogen and critical minerals sectors. France has a $7 billion hydro strategy while Australia’s hydro strategy hopes to create hydrogen hubs to make Australia a global supplier of hydrogen in the long term.
We recently posted an article about circular economies and this was a topic that got brought up in this online conference as well.
Nutricia Oceania Managing Director Rodrigo Lima said that they hope to have 100% circular packaging by 2025. Their plan is to make their packaging reusable, recyclable or compostable to help and nourish people but also the environment. He went on to say that Nutricia wants to play its part in transitioning from a linear packaging economy to a circular packaging economy.
Schneider Electric Pacific Zone Health, Safety and Environment Leader Toni Pecoski said that they are finding small businesses are holding them to account about their sustainability practices. She said in the past people wanted to know about their health and safety records but now it’s sustainability and reducing environmental impact.
Victoria’s new battery
French renewable energy developer Neoen has won a contract held by the Victoria government to build the biggest battery in Australia in Geelong, providing essential services to the Victoria grid.
Australia’s Future Submarines
Naval Group has committed to at least 60% of its contracts going to Australian companies.
A lot of the naval shipbuilding will happen in South Australia which will provide many job opportunities for small businesses.
It’ll also provide opportunities for people to learn on-site and traineeships.
One of the major challenges of the Future Submarine Program is the ability for Australia to support this submarine project as well as other shipbuilding projects in adjacent markets (eg. minerals market, post-COVID infrastructure).
The Future Submarine Program has also come under intense scrutiny due to the huge cost to taxpayers and an auditor-general report coming out earlier this year confirming that the program was running nine months behind schedule.
The previous Submarine build program (of the current in-service Collins Class submarines) that Australia embarked on was also highly scrutinised and was riddled with schedule delays and cost overruns, but turned out to deliver a vessel that is regarded one of the world’s best large conventional diesel-powered submarines. We hope SEA 1000 can deliver a similar outcome in the ever-changing environment with the Attack Class submarines.