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Reports underline the resilience of Australia's financial markets

12 October, 2009

Austrade has launched its 2009 Financial Services Benchmark Report in conjunction with the Australian Financial Markets Association's (AFMA) 2009 Australian Financial Markets Report at the Australian Securities Exchange.

Minister for Financial Services, Superannuation and Corporate Law, Chris Bowen, launched the two key reports which demonstrate the strength and resilience of Australia’s financial markets and how well they have fared in contrast to other major financial centres following the Global Financial Crisis (GFC).

Austrade’s chief executive officer, Peter O’Byrne, said that during the last twelve months Austrade has increased its focus on financial services and has a team which extends throughout Austrade's global network.

This dedicated specialist team works to promote exports from Australia's financial sector as well as attracting potential international investors.

"Working with the industry, the team supports missions and activities to highlight Australian capabilities to offshore markets extending from North America and Europe and into the Asia Pacific region, reflecting our strengths in funds management, investment banking and growing areas, such as Islamic finance," said O’Byrne.

“Significant steps toward establishing a strong mutual recognition framework between financial regulatory authorities in Australia and overseas markets have been taken, leading to stronger relationships with markets in the US and China.

“The Australian Financial Centre Forum, set up to help position Australia as a financial services centre in the region, will report on further ways to improve the competitiveness of our financial system, address tax and regulatory barriers and improve market access offshore later this year,” O’Byrne said.

Austrade’s national manager financial services, Gary Johnston, said the joint launch of the two publications highlights the strong working relationship developed with AFMA.

Johnston said, Austrade's 2009 Financial Services Benchmark Report highlights the liquidity and sophistication of Australia’s financial markets and also points to the strength of regulatory and governance frameworks and their transparency which has benefited Australia during the GFC.

“This year’s Benchmark Report shows Australia's financial sector fared better than most other major financial centres. The sector remains strong, continuing to develop as a regional and global centre with Australian based institutions seeking global mandates and viewing Australia as a base for their products," Johnston said.

"Finance and Insurance remains a significant sector of the Australian economy, and contributed 8.1 per cent to Real Gross Value Added during 2008-09. The sector remains well capitalised, with total assets for Australia's financial institutions exceeding A$4.4 trillion - equivalent to four times GDP.

"Investment funds - which include life offices, superannuation and other managed funds - account for 26.4 per cent of total financial sector assets at March 2009, totalling A$1.2 trillion - up more than fourfold since 1994.”

“Our banking and insurance sectors are actively looking for opportunities, particularly in emerging markets, while the funds management sector is looking to position Australia as a "product manufacturing" hub for the region.”

Johnston said Australia's leading financial institutions are also increasingly looking to extend their regional and global reach. Australia is also seen as an important market within the region with growing interest from Chinese and Indian financial institutions.

This points to both challenges and opportunities but offers encouragement for the future and supports the Government's long term commitment to make Australia a global financial services centre in the Asia-Pacific region.

A copy of Austrade’s 2009 Financial Services Benchmark Report can be found at:  www.austrade.gov.au/benchmarkreport09 

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