Australian-German Advisory Group all set for Berlin

Despite Germany’s position as the world’s fourth-biggest economy and the biggest in Europe, Australia exports more to 16 markets other than to Germany.

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Hoping to boost ties with Germany across a number of areas, the Abbott Government plans to use its newly created Australian-German Advisory Group.  

“We do believe that we can learn from Germany on how to do better in translating high-quality research outcomes into high-quality commercial outcomes,” Finance Minister Mathias Cormann said.

Describing the country as the “economic locomotive” of Europe, Prime Minister Tony Abbott announced the joint working group with Chancellor Angela Merkel at the Brisbane G20 last year.

Mr Abbott wants the group to look at boosting relations and strengthening ties in investment, trade and scientific research.

“The relationship between Australia and Germany is strong and warm but I think it could be better developed,” he said.   

Australia already exports to Germany, with gold coins making up most of the trade.

Nobel physics laureate Brian Schmidt, recently announced as the next vice-chancellor of the Australian National University, was asked to be one of the group’s members. 

“So I had an interesting call from the Finance Minister, and when the finance minister calls you up you certainly want to take that call,” he said.  

Germany leads the world in successful scientific and commercial collaborations, an area Professor Schmidt says Australia could improve.

“Germany is dominated by small and medium enterprises and their small to medium enterprises are pretty large by Australian standards,” he said.

“They’re very good at integrating what’s going on in the research sector to these SMEs and so yes, we have lots to learn this is something we haven’t done very well.”

Professor Schmidt will work alongside Lucy Turnbull, the Honorary President of the Australian-German Chamber of Commerce.

“There is so much great start-up culture there in the technology space and scientific space there is a huge potential for greater collaboration between Australia and Germany and between cities like Berlin and Sydney and Melbourne,” she said.

Following the meetings in Berlin, the working group will put an action plan to both countries’ leaders.