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Australia reaching out to Mississippi business and industry

The Australian Embassy in Washington, D.C., is working diligently to find ways to enhance bilateral trade between the country Down Under and the Magnolia State.

Last month, Australian Trade Commission (ATC) representatives — Amanda Hodges, consul general and trade commissioner, and Paul Adler, business development manager — visited Jackson in a whirlwind tour coordinated by John Henry Jackson of the Mississippi Development Authority’s (MDA) global business division. The visit was spurred in part by the U.S.-Australia Free Trade Agreement, which went into effect January 1, 2005, and was ratified by Mississippi.

A few things in common

“The business culture and environment of Australia and Mississippi are similar,” explained Adler. “For example, both are coastal and agrarian economies with a laid-back atmosphere and strong manufacturing capabilities. In 2005, exports from Mississippi to Australia were in excess of $28 million, with Australia ranking 27th among Mississippi’s target export countries.”

Australian and Mississippi industry has already recognized the potential in bilateral trade relationships. Tenix LADS Incorporated, a global leader in the supply of airborne laser systems used to survey coastal waters, is an Australian company based in Biloxi. The company’s hydrographic surveys offer a fast and cost-effective tool for a variety of uses, such as nautical charting and oil and gas exploration.

Pratt Industries, an Australian packaging company, manufactures corrugated boxes at a facility in Jackson. Triton, a Mississippi company based in Long Beach, is the largest provider of off-premise ATMs and ATM management software in the U.S. Triton has deployed more than 600 cash-dispensing ATMs throughout Australia, making Triton the market leader in Australia for off-premise ATMs.

The meetings with government and industry officials in late June marked Adler’s second visit to the state. He initially toured the Mississippi Gulf Coast with ATC district manager Marty Cotton and met with economic development representatives from several counties.

“Australia’s storm experience enables the Australian government to provide lessons learned and Australian industry to participate in both the reconstruction and revitalization of the Gulf region of Mississippi,” said Adler. “Cyclone Larry swept through parts of the State of Queensland, on the northeast coast of Australia, on March 20, 2006. The quick and effective response to Cyclone Larry demonstrates how Australia can help.”

Reinsurance magazine’s June 1 issue reported that Cyclone Larry seriously affected Innisfail, a town of 8,000 people, but could have been as dangerous as Hurricane Katrina if it had struck a major town or city. Cyclone Monica, the southern hemisphere’s strongest storm on record, followed Cyclone Larry.

“While Australia has a fraction of the population of the U.S., the way it has prepared for disasters appears to be more organized,” reported the magazine. “It has seen more than its fair share of natural perils in recent years, from the cyclones to regular bushfires, river floods and hailstorms. But while the losses-both human and financial-have varied, the disaster-response preparations have generally not been found wanting.”

More than 30 years earlier, in 1974, Cyclone Tracy struck the city of Darwin on the northwest coast of Australia, Adler pointed out.

“The response to and lessons learned from Cyclone Tracy provided a basis for Australian industry to develop solutions for preparation to a storm and response afterwards,” he said. “For example, Australian industry has some of the best of breed modular housing solutions in the world (and) also has some the best of breed solutions in geospatial, e-government, aquaculture, information technology, transportation, port construction and the environmental sciences.”

On the agenda

The Australian Trade Commission itinerary for the June 21-22 visit to Jackson included breakfast at the University Club with Mississippi Manufacturers Association chief Jay Moon, a mid-morning meeting with SmartSynch marketing director Ravi Raju, a meeting with Dr. Gavin Smith of the Governor’s Office, followed by lunch at Nick’s restaurant with various state government leaders, including state Rep. Michael Janus (R-Biloxi), also president of Tenix Holdings, USA. Separate meetings with Barbara Travis of the Mississippi World Trade Center and Bill Lee of Trilogy Communications followed a mid-afternoon briefing with MDA deputy director Gray Swoope. Adler quickly pointed out that he, Hodges and Cotton would continue making visits to Mississippi on a routine basis.

“While an element of this visit was to determine how best Australian industry could assist with the rebuilding and revitalization efforts along the Gulf, the longer term relationship is more important,” said Adler. “This can be the beginning of a mutually beneficial relationship between Australia and Mississippi.”

Contact MBJ contributing writer Lynne W. Jeter at Lynne.Jeter@gmail.com.

About Lynne W. Jeter

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