KUANTAN: Australian High Commissioner to Malaysia, Andrew Goledzinowski believed that Lynas Advanced Materials Plant (Lynas) in Gebeng should not be shut down as it has contributed a lot in terms of providing jobs and improving the local economy.
Describing it as a tragedy if Lynas was to cease operation, he said many people would lose their jobs and Pahang's reputation as an investment-friendly state would also be affected.
Goledzinowski said Lynas has created about 600 jobs, not including thousand others that were indirectly involved with the Gebeng plant.
“I want to make sure that Lynas continues to grow and creates more jobs for Malaysians. I don't think Lynas will close down or else it will be a tragedy....people will then say politics is more important than science.
“Lynas is a pioneer in Malaysia and its success story will inspire other companies from Australia to come here.
"Once a company is successful then the others will show interest. But if one fails, then everyone else will know about it... In fact, we have another business investment coming from Australia this week,” he told reporters after a high-tea session with Lynas management staff and village headman from Beserah here.
Goledzinowski was commenting on the recent news report about a review on Lynas' operation set to be carried out by a committee under the Pakatan Harapan government.
The Energy, Green Technology, Science, Climate Change and Environment Ministry had recently identified the rare earth refinery plant as one of several "environmentally risky" projects which needed a review.
He said during a recent meeting, Energy, Green Technology, Science, Climate Change and Environment Minister Yeo Bee Yin had given her assurance that any decision made by the government would be based on facts and evidences.
He said Yeo had also relayed her intention to visit Lynas in October for a briefing and that he was looking forward to it.
“To date, Lynas is the most reviewed and investigated plant in Malaysia and I do not think that another review will be a problem as long as it is factually supported.
"It is the rights of the new government to do a review (on Lynas) and Lynas has to take part in it.
“On my side, I hope the media and public will be able to be given access to what is happening as it will not only assure transparency but also raise awareness about Lynas and its activities.
"(After all) Lynas is one of Australia’s most vital business in Malaysia,” he said.
It was reported that Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Fuziah Salleh, who is also the Kuantan member of parliament and Bentong member of parliament Wong Tack would be leading a committee set up to review the Lynas project.
In his speech earlier, Goledzinowski said the rare earth mineral could only be obtained in China and Pahang and if Lynas was to close down, technology producers in the United States and Japan will have to solely depend on China.
Source: New Straits Times
Lendlease's first big step on the road to becoming a global powerhouse started when it decided to shrink.
A decade ago, the 68-year old company, founded by Dutch immigrant Dick Dusseldorp, that had made its name building the Snowy Hydro and the Sydney Opera House, was operating in 40 countries but only four of them were profitable.
In the tough years after the global financial crisis, the new chief executive, Steve McCann, rationalised its global operations to a new set of international "gateway cities" where it was willing to invest.
Sydney's giant Barangaroo project was the first big step in a new direction towards landmark urban regeneration projects; Lendlease won the tender in 2009, and it was a big risk for the new boss.
"Steve took a big bet," recalls Tony Lombardo, the company's former head of strategy who now heads up its Asia division.
"People were worried about the debt. It became the calling card for what we wanted to stand for in urban generation. This is going to be built in our back yard. Sydney is our home city. We thought that was the great opportunity."
Today, LendLease has a list of 16 landmark regeneration projects across 10 countries, and the group has expanded well beyond its construction roots to become an investment giant worth $11.5 billion, employing 13,000 people and deploying a $71 billion development pipeline.
In a series starting on Monday,The Australian Financial Review is examining how Lendlease became the world's developer, as part of an ongoing focus on Australian businesses going global.
"We said to ourselves, you know what, we have to go after these bigger projects where we believed we could create a different place," Lombardo says.
"Lendlease lost money internationally previously. The board could at the time have retreated completely but it held its nerve and said you can't just be a player in Australia," Lombardo says.
The company also plans to reduce the amount of capital it invests in Australia and push it out to the rest of the world with the focus on its core operations in Europe, the Americas and Asia.
Lendlease chief Steve McCann says the company hoped to generate up to 20 per cent of total profits from the world's fastest-growing economies by reinventing the way people work, live and spend their leisure time in high-density cities while branching out into new businesses underpinned by ageing populations.
"Capital is increasingly deployed in our international projects, where we believe there is strong embedded margin," McCann says.
"The regional shifts in capital are in line with our expectations, highlighting our origination focus in recent years on international gateway cities."
In the group's latest results operating EBITDA margin out of Asia jumped to $97 million for the financial year 2018 up from $21 million the previous year.
Bringing Barangaroo to Asia
Singapore's Paya Lebar Quarter, the company's flagship project in the region is a city precinct of three office towers, residential apartments, shops, restaurants and lots of green space. It is six metro stops from Raffles Hotel and about the same distance away from the city's airport.
This is the kind of project Lendlease is holding up as a model for the region as it pursues urban regeneration projects in "gateway cities" around the world.
On site in Singapore, Lombardo gazes over a sea of cranes, scaffolding and half-completed high-rises as he relays the story of Lendlease's mixed fortunes offshore.
Lombardo has big plans for the world's most populous region as the company works with local governments to shake up the way major residential and commercial developments are built and operated.
As well as bringing Barangaroo-style developments to cities like Singapore and Kuala Lumpur, the company want to be a major player in China's fledgling aged care market.
"We have been fixated this time round on making sure you get a competitive advantage. Don't be a one-trick pony in construction which is where we were sitting previously.
"The next three to five years across Asia, the opportunity is there. We just have to make sure we can do it safely and profitably."
Sydney's Barangaroo is the role model, which meant Lendlease needed to convince the Singapore authorities to rethink the way a mixed-use development works.
Lombardo compares it to the "party people don't want to leave" – a liveable and active space like Barangaroo where people work on laptops in ground floor cafes, families picnic on the weekend and is just as busy in the evening as during office hours.
Lendlease convinced the Singapore government to combine three plots of land which would have been sold separately into a precinct with more community space than was normal for developments in the small city state.
Lendlease also proposed covering up the concrete canals running through the site, which are generally left open in Singapore, to free up 100,000 square metres of public space. It was a radical proposal and one of the biggest property transactions in Singapore at the time.
It will be the first development in the city to offer "end of trip facilities" such as showers and towels for people who want to run or cycle to work, bike parking and facilities for electric scooters. This is something the Singaporean government is now mandating in other big projects.
Lendlease will move its Asian headquarters, currently in a high-rise down town where its staff are trialling a co-working concept it will offer to tenants at the new site, early in the new year.
Lombardo, who outlines his plans over two interviews in Singapore and in Shanghai, is confident Asia will eventually account for one-fifth of the company's global profits to match the capital being allocated into its operations spanning China, Singapore, Malaysia and Japan. This is a big leap from 3 per cent in the first half of the current financial year.
"We are putting 15 to 20 per cent of the capital [in] so over time profits should get into that zone. It takes time because developments take three to four years to build before you get to recognise profits at the end. It takes time to build up a consistent portfolio and generate those returns."
The Paya Lebar Quarter, a 30:70 joint venture with the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority, is the company's flagship project in Asia. Like its other big projects, Lendlease buys and develops a site, brings in a buyer and then takes a long-term operational role.
Offices are offices no longer
Lombardo says this long-term approach is an incentive to create a good quality asset from the beginning. Technology, co-working and the shared economy play a big part in its projects. The site also sits on two train lines while covered paths and cycleways connect it to other parts of the city.
Lombardo says office buildings operate completely differently now than they did a decade ago. An office lobby used to be an empty space but now contains a coffee shop and places to meet.
Residents and workers do not drive to work and are more likely to run or cycle to work, even in Singapore's stifling heat, if there are the right facilities.
Technology is blurring the lines between where people live, eat, shop, exercise and work. The company is targeting medium to small companies who want co-working spaces as tenants.
"When we look for a certain site it has to be an attractive place to live, work and spend leisure time in parts of the city that are getting renewed or re-rated," David Hutton, the company's head of development says.
Lendlease rarely takes on projects in the middle of cities, but focuses on growth areas.
"What we try and do is get enough area and scale in a part of the city to get it re-rated and improved and we can contribute to that."
The property business is a long-term game but Lendlease has the luxury in Asia of being able to build major projects faster than it can in Australia, although this also creates huge challenges.
It uses cutting edge technology such as drones, 3D modelling, laser scanning and virtual reality to improve the planning process as well as safety.
"Hard to believe I came here from Australia with coloured drawings and pencils three years ago," says Andy Bartal, the senior site manager for the Paya Lebar site.
He marvels at the project started in 2015. He says 2000 construction workers putting in six days a week and 10 million man hours means the project will be finished early next year.
The challenge for Lendlease was building the office, retail and residential components all at once rather than a staged process.
There are cultural challenges too managing a workforce where only 10 per cent are trained in the construction industry.
Lendlease set up a training academy to improve safety. Building alongside a working metro system and with height restrictions which meant its cranes could not go above 64 metres was also challenging.
An aged-care vision for China
The long-term vision is for a large aged care business in China, the core property construction business in cities such as Singapore and Malaysia and a telecommunications tower operation in Japan.
He wants three to four major projects underway consistently at any one time compared to the two main projects it has now.
"In Asia, there are so many young cities and the urban centres are growing. It is most efficient to build up from a scale perspective because you get a better return out of the transportation and infrastructure."
New cities springing up in China, Malaysia's relatively young population and Singapore's more developed economy are major drawcards. Lendlease also operates in Tokyo.
You get a sense Lombardo is hungry to take the model to other cities but there are no formal plans to expand out of its four key markets yet, at least none that have made it past the board.
Lendlease has around $800 million, or around 12 per cent of group capital currently deployed in Asia.
That includes $500 million in development capital and $300 million in existing assets. The company plans to invest another $500 million to $600 million in equity, add debt and bring in investors for Asia.
Lombardo says he would like to double the size of its existing $6.2 billion portfolio in the region, while growing its funds under management to $10-$15 billion. The company currently has around $6 billion of funds under management.
"I would like to see the scale of that portfolio double in size because it means we have more sustainable platforms. It means we need to win a couple of big urban regeneration deals. I would like to grow our funds platform," he says.
The existing $6.2 billion pipeline includes the $3.4 billion end vale for the Paya Lebar Quarter and $2.9 billion for the Tun Razak Exchange (TRX) – a shopping mall and development in Kuala Lumpur.
Source: Financial Review
Malaysia will see improvements in business ecosystem over the next 12 months riding on the short and medium-term incoming investments to Asean region.
Monash University Malaysia vice president (research and development) Professor Mahendhiran S. Nair however cautioned that full trade war between the US and its trading partner will jeopardise the optimism, that may adversely impact on local and regional firms.
Therefore, local firms should intensify their opportunities within domestic economy and expand their operations in Asean as well as other Asia Pacific markets.
“Building local supply network is important to enhance the industry's competitiveness of doing businesses among the small and medium as well as big corporations.
“Business players should adapt to new technology and innovate their products and services to reduce operational costs and maximise efficiency, while broaden their business reach” he told NST Business after announcing the Malaysian Business Sentiment Survey 2018/2019 results, today.
The survey, conducted by Monash University Malaysia in collaboration with CPA Australia gathered the opinions from Malaysia’s business leaders, highlighting concerns that could potentially affect businesses growth through investments in new markets.
“Although firms are positive on the business outlook, they should be highly competitive as the government has cut its spending to reduce its debt,” added Mahendhiran.
He said highly competitive small and medium firms will be acquired by bigger players to support them in sectors like information and communications technology (ICT), business services, transportation and logistics.
“The government recognised that science, technology, innovation and critical infrastructure are very important for the business. Through public-private partnership, this will be much cost-effective and cost-efficient in creating value for broader stakeholders,” he said.
Mahendhiran pointed out that the public-private partnership was a critical move to steer the country’s economy into stable position, involving infrastructure development like roads and train.
“The government has an important role to provide necessities in partnering with the private sector. It is also crucial for the government to build the human capital and provide the right incentive for the firms to be innovative,” he said.
It is also important for universities to nurture talent that will enable firms to enhance their innovative capacity, process improvement and product development.
Local firms should also mitigate the risk of intensive competition and potential trade war by exploring new markets and defending existing market with the introduction of new products and services.
Mahendhiran said the survey’s primary objective was to enable decision makers, business leaders and key stakeholders in taking proactive measures to improve the local business environment and build a competitive advantage.
Monash University Malaysia deputy head of school and director of research, Professor Pervaiz Ahmed said it was essential for the government to have competitive, open and fair business environments.
“Business-friendly policy will build the firm’s strength domestically as well as help them to venture into other region,” he said.
Pervaiz said local firms must embrace the digital economy and the Fourth Industrial Revolution, which would enable them to extend their reach for talent, resources, market intelligence, networks and markets.
He said firms are expected to drive operational efficiency via cost management strategy and business process improvements with the cost savings are channelled to value-creating outcomes such as expanding to new markets.
The survey revealed that the local market is concerned about the increasing cost of doing business and the weakening of ringgit, which will have an impact on their bottom-line and import goods in their production process.
Malaysia will go ahead with the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), said Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, in a reaffirmation of the country's commitment to the wide-ranging trade pact involving 11 nations.
Tun Dr Mahathir, asked about his position on the CPTPP during an interview with a Thai television network last week, said: "After the US pullout from the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the condition which allows companies to sue governments is no longer something we need to fear. Also, there is less overwhelming dominance of America over the other countries.
"The previous (Malaysian) government had signed to become a member. We can't withdraw without losing credibility, so we will have to go ahead with the CPTPP."
Malaysia, together with 10 other countries - Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam - signed the free trade agreement in March.
The agreement sets out how member countries can trade freely and openly with each other in a rules-based trading system.
The pact is a rebranded Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement that "collapsed" after the United States withdrew in January last year under President Donald Trump.
As a whole, the CPTPP is expected to generate an additional US$147 billion (S$200 billion) in global income. Its members account for about 13.5 per cent of the global economy, with a combined market of 500 million people.
The next step before the pact comes into force is when six of the 11 countries ratify the agreement. So far, Singapore, Mexico and Japan have ratified it. Australia and Chile have indicated that they will follow suit by year-end.
The ratification question seems to be uppermost on the minds of Malaysian officials in recent weeks after several rounds of briefing to the Prime Minister and his Cabinet. It is understood that several Pakatan Harapan ministers are for the pact while others have their reservations.
Australia’s new Prime Minister Scott Morrison has unveiled his first cabinet, seeking to unify the Liberal Party and reassure the nation after a week of tumultuous infighting that saw Malcolm Turnbull turfed out of the top job.
Morrison named Marise Payne to replace Julie Bishop as foreign minister and promoted Christopher Pyne to oversee defence. Mathias Cormann will stay in his role as minister for finance and failed leadership challenger Peter Dutton retained a reduced home affairs portfolio.
The reshuffled cabinet bookends a chaotic week in which Turnbull was ousted by his own party — the sixth time since 2007 that Australia has changed prime ministers. Morrison, the former treasurer, was a surprise victor in the Liberal Party ballot after the populist right-wing of the party, which had agitated for Turnbull’s removal, was unable to persuade enough moderates to back Dutton.
“Government stability is being restored, we are getting on with the job,” Morrison said. This cabinet will “tackle the big challenges that are before us with some new ideas and a fresh emphasis while restoring some of the emphasis of the times past.”
The swath of new cabinet appointments come as the governing party battles to restore unity ahead of an upcoming federal election, due by May, with the opposition Labour Party leading in opinion polls.
Support for the Liberal-National coalition crashed in the wake of the infighting, and it now trails Labour by a 12 point margin, 56% to 44%, according to the latest Newspoll published in the Australian newspaper on Monday. That compares with a 2 point gap earlier this month. Labour leader Bill Shorten is now regarded as the preferred prime minister, for the first time since February 2015.
“We saw a handful of individuals who decided to wreak havoc” last week, Simon Birmingham, who takes on the tourism portfolio, told ABC TV earlier on Sunday. “That was very destructive. Every single man and woman in the Liberal Party room needs to put that type of behaviour behind us and make sure we do unify for the future. The Australian people expect us to care about them and their interests.”
Former prime minister Tony Abbott, who was beaten by Turnbull in a leadership ballot in 2015, did not win a place back in the cabinet.
Australia’s key new government members:
Prime Minister: Scott Morrison
Treasurer: Josh Frydenberg
Minister for Foreign Affairs: Marise Payne
Minister for Finance: Mathias Cormann
Minster for Defense: Christopher Pyne
Minister for Defense Industry: Steven Ciobo
Minister for Home Affairs: Peter Dutton
Minister for Jobs, Industrial Relations: Kelly O’Dwyer
Minister for Education: Dan Tehan
IN this region, Australia enjoys a long tradition in supporting the exchange of people, culture and ideas through education. Recently, Australian Minister of Foreign Affairs, The Honourable Julie Bishop, was in Kuala Lumpur to meet with senior government, business and education leaders.
The minister's itinerary included a stop at Monash University Malaysia, where she delivered a public address to mark the university's 20th anniversary in Malaysia. In her speech, she highlighted the fact that Monash University Malaysia is Malaysia's first foreign university campus and it is also Monash University's first campus abroad.
"This showcases the high quality and high standards that Monash University achieves. It has been a remarkable success in embedding a world-class Australian university within the Malaysian community," she said.
One of the most powerful aspects of the relationship between Australia and Malaysia is the educational exchanges. Australian universities have in total 11 campuses overseas with three located in Malaysia – Monash University Malaysia, Swinburne University of Technology and Curtin University.
"Investing in education means Malaysia has a highly skilled workforce with the ability to fuel the next generation of growth, innovation and economy. Australia welcomes and encourages the new government's focus on education. We see many potential areas for cooperation, such as the Australian government's signature policy, the New Colombo Plan," stated Bishop.
The initial Colombo Plan which was set up in the 1950s brought nearly 4,000 Malaysian students to Australia to gain Australian university qualifications. Today, 400,000 Malaysians are reported to have studied in Australia; 32,000 enrolments alone, last year.
Under the New Colombo Plan, an estimated 2,500 Australian students would have participated in the plan's Mobility and Scholarship programmes in Malaysia by the end of 2019. That includes 840 students from Australia studying in Malaysia this year, which makes Malaysia the fifth most popular New Colombo Plan host location out of 39 participating nations across the Indo-Pacific region.
"Since its inception in 2014 up until 2019, around 40,000 Australian undergraduates will have lived, studied and undertaken work experience, internships and practicum in countries in that region. The friendships and connections these and other New Colombo Plan participants gain through this programme will pay dividends for both countries across the decades.
"It is hard to conceive a better investment for the future than preparing our next generation of leaders with a great understanding of their region (where they will gain) experiences that give new skills, insights, understanding, connections, as well as networks that will last a lifetime," she highlighted.
Australia awards ASEAN Scholarships
On that note, the Australian High Commissioner to Malaysia Andrew Goledzinowski revealed the names of the five Malaysian recipients awarded the Asean Scholarships - Yeoh Jie Shuang, Aizat Shamsuddin, Rashidah Kamaluddin, Kah Mun Hon and Karl Nadzarin.
Briefly, the prestigious scholarship transpired from the first and historic Asean-Australia Special Summit, which was held in Sydney in March this year, where leaders of Asean nations were hosted by Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull.
The scholarship offered 50 outstanding young students, five from each Asean country, the opportunity to attain their Masters at universities in Australia in fields that contribute to the Asean agenda which addresses peace, prosperity and social development.
Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop is visiting Timor-Leste, Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia from July 29 to August 7 to reaffirm her country’s commitment to remaining a leading partner to its regional neighbours in Southeast Asia, according to her media release on July 29.
In Dili, she is scheduled to meet the leaders of the new Timor-Leste Government. The two sides plan to discuss deepening cooperation in security, development and economy, opening a new chapter in the Australia-Timor-Leste relationship, and following the signing of a treaty establishing permanent maritime boundaries.
In Malaysia, Bishop looks forward to engaging senior members of the new government and building on the Strategic Partnership announced in 2015, reflecting the two nations' close collaboration and shared strategic perspectives on regional and global affairs. This will be Australia's first ministerial visit to Malaysia since the latter's general election on May 9.
In Singapore, she plans to attend the East Asia Summit, ASEAN Regional Forum and Australia-ASEAN Ministerial Meeting. The meetings are an important opportunity to demonstrate Australia’s strong support for ASEAN and its role in promoting peace and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific region. The discussions will build on the historic ASEAN-Australia Special Summit hosted in Sydney in March 2018.
Visiting Indonesia, the last destination, the Australian official will co-chair with Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi the Bali Process Ministerial Conference on People Smuggling, Trafficking in Persons and Related Transnational Crime. This meeting provides an opportunity to boost practical cooperation between regional partners, civil society and the private sector to end the scourge of human trafficking, modern slavery and forced labour.
She will also officially open the Australian Consulate-General in Surabaya. It is Australia’s fourth diplomatic mission in Indonesia and part of the country's priority for deeper engagement with its neighbours, as outlined in the Turnbull Government’s Foreign Policy White Paper released last year. The Consulate in Surabaya, Indonesia’s second largest city, will strengthen Australia's trade and investment links with Indonesia
Crisis Management Centre recently shared industry experiences to communications students at Manipal International University (MIU). The university, which has taken data analytics seriously with its inclusion in a dedicated data driven MBA, was a natural choice for the Crisis Management Centre who prides itself on the application of social media data in managing perception during a crisis.
Data Driven Crisis Management is widely seen as the cutting edge of the industry which has seen an increase in demand following major shifts in the political and business landscapes both in Malaysia and around the region.
"Data is a double edged sword, even the likes of Mark Zuckerberg have found this out in recent times, and following the 'shock defeat' of Hillary Clinton in the US Presidential election the metaphorical witch hunt was underway, who were the data scientists and how did they get their information? The list of questions goes on but one thing is for sure is that data gained by listening to what people think or want can no longer be ignored, during a crisis that data is just coming at a faster rate than a normal work day." Stated Nordin Abdullah who recently established the Crisis Management Centre.
"In the past a crisis could be managed in isolation, you get your internal team together, good people that know what they are doing their fields and you roll out your crisis management plan for those who have one and for those who don't you scramble to put together a few next steps and action points. As a decision maker you will naturally want all the information possible," continued Nordin who is also an EXCO member of the Malaysia Australia Business Council.
Now with the element of social pressure, "Enter the armchair expert who has a few thousand followers on twitter or Instagram and they commented on your crisis or even worse they are the person who broke the story by broadcasting it on Facebook Live. At the same time the algorithms that Google or Facebook use start to see this topic as something interesting so by the end of the day everyone including the authorities know what's going on, human curiosity and desire to know what's going on will mean your organisation needs to respond," continued Nordin who is also an EXCO member of the Malaysia Australia Business Council.
"We are pleased to have high-level industry experts share their time with our students. The Manipal Education Group has been responsible for producing some of the brightest minds in Asia for the past 60 years. The Group has a network of six campuses and affiliations with 30 universities worldwide. Building on the success of the Melaka Manipal Medical College in Malaysia, Manipal International University (MIU), is a full-fledged Malaysian university offering multidisciplinary programs with a focus in the fields of Science, Engineering, Business and Mass Communication," stated Mr. Bharath Vasudevan, Principal Officer -- Operations, Manipal Education Malaysia.
The two hour interactive session was attended by over 60 students and faculty members at Manipal International University. Harvestmedia director Yen Loong Chua also spoke during the session on the importance of data insights during a crisis which included closing remarks from Prof. Dr. Seena Biju the Associate Dean School of Management Studies.
The Crisis Management Centre was established to empower governments, organisations and individuals better manage crisis. The Founder and managing director Nordin Abdullah established the Crisis Management Centre as a natural step after being involved in numerous crisis and natural disasters in Malaysia and the broader ASEAN and Asian region. A core team that leverages off a network of experts across the Asia Pacificthat can be called into action to handle your crisis.
Free-trade agreements linking Australia to south-east Asia, Latin America and the European Union will help break our reliance on international students from China, but they could also pave the way for increased competition from foreign universities on local soil.
The new Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement, or TPP-11, signed in March will boost trade between Australia and 10 other signatories – Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, Peru, New Zealand, Singapore and Vietnam.
It is seen as the new gold standard of free-trade deals, which no longer focus primarily on goods but increasingly on services as well.
Negotiations are now under way for a similar agreement with the European Union, which EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom says would open up significant opportunities in public procurement and the service sector in particular.
As one of the country's biggest sources of export income, these agreements have enormous implications for the tertiary sector.
Some of the benefits are easy to see – two in particular are greater access to overseas students and smoother facilitation of international research projects.
On their own, the agreements won't necessarily lead to a shift in the number of international students studying in Australia, but they could dramatically change where they come from – alleviating concerns about over-representation of Chinese students in local classrooms.
Simplified visa requirements, government promotions of education in Australia and mutual recognition of qualifications in professions like law, accounting and engineering could see an influx of new students from areas like Latin America or parts of Asia that have traditionally been considered out of reach.
Similarly, a shared understanding on issues like salary provisions and working conditions, joint protection of intellectual property and investment rules would make it much easier than it currently is for researchers and university staff to collaborate across borders, and for universities to invest strategically abroad.
However, Australian universities will need to be proactive to actually take advantage of what these agreements offer – and if they don't, risk losing out to their overseas counterparts.
Just because FTAs exist doesn't mean businesses automatically reap their benefits.
Higher-education providers will need strategic managerial and organisational knowledge to know how to navigate their complex rules effectively.
A report on how Australian businesses have used existing FTAs to date, published by PwC in February, found that their impact was particularly high in merchandise trade, but only 35 per cent of services firms considered them as part of their export strategy. This compares to 90 per cent of EU organisations.
This would indicate that the services sector in Australia is significantly less developed in its approach to using FTAs effectively than it is in the EU, which would possibly put our sector on an uneven playing field if – or more likely, when – it becomes Australia's next FTA partner, depending on the success of governmental negotiations.
Thankfully, the attitude of Australian universities to FTAs has started to shift over the past few years.
When talk of a possible agreement with the EU first arrived, it seemed as if the higher education sector wasn't sufficiently concerned because it didn't see how such a deal could be relevant.
Since then, there has been a noticeable increase in awareness among vice-chancellors and in lobbying for the higher education sector to be represented in negotiations – though it is still far from comprehensive.
Just as Australian businesses will be looking to see how a potential FTA with the EU could benefit them, so will their European counterparts be on the hunt to make the most of new opportunities in Australia. This will include education providers already keen to launch new campuses on Australian soil.
The danger for Australia's higher education industry lies in underestimating just how much change could be around the corner, brought on both by Australia's existing FTAs as well as the plurilateral TPP-11 deal and future FTA deals such as that with the EU. If Australian universities don't tap into the opportunities effectively, they run a serious risk of losing their position and watching as international providers step in to fill the gap.
The Australian Government has awarded the University of Newcastle $1,267,750 million in funding under the 2019 New Colombo Plan Mobility Program.
Funding will support 334 University of Newcastle students to undertake 23 mobility projects in 15 countries across the Indo-Pacific region, with the University leading five cross-institutional projects addressing global environment, health and business topics.
Established in 2014, the New Colombo Plan Mobility Program aims to deepen two-way engagement between Australia and the Indo-Pacific by providing undergraduate students with a variety of exchange opportunities in 40 host locations.
Successful students from the University of Newcastle will study and undertake internships in Cambodia, China, Cook Islands, Fiji, India, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Singapore, Solomon Islands, Thailand, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vietnam.
Deputy Vice-Chancellor International and Advancement, Winnie Eley, said she was delighted to see so many exceptional students take up the opportunity to advance their knowledge in fields of global relevance.
“Through international mobility, this program enables our students to enter the work force with greater cultural awareness and a deep understanding of our neighbouring regions and beyond.
“This experience not only fosters the next generation of global citizens, but also provides students with professional and personal connections that will stay with them for the rest of their lives,” Mrs Eley said.
New Colombo Plan 2019 Student Mobility Grant Projects led by:
Associate Professor Graham Brewer, Faculty of Engineering and Built Environment – Understanding sustainable development and resilience in South Korea
Professor Sally Chan, Faculty of Health and Medicine – Promoting cultural competency – East meets West in community care in China
Dr Sara Geale, Faculty of Health and Medicine – A team approach to improving the health of children and young people who are in need in Cambodia
The Wollotuka Institute, Aboriginal professional practice and Indigenous culture in the Solomon Islands
Dr Sally Hewat, Faculty of Education and Arts – Speech pathology in Mainland China
Dr Daphne James, Faculty of Health and Medicine – Medical radiation science multi-professional student placement in Vietnam
Dr Philip Matthias, Faculty of Education and Arts – Indigenous Tongan oral tradition
Mr Shaun McCarthy and Dr Bin Li, Faculty of Business and Law - Clinical legal education in China
iLead+, UON Global, iLEAD Plus global leadership experience in India
Ms Jacqueline Svenson, Dr Liam Phelan and Mr Daniel Matas, Faculty of Business and Law – Climate connections across the Pacific in Tuvalu and Fiji
Associate Professor Pamela van der Riet, Faculty of Health and Medicine – Thai cultural study healthcare program in Thailand
Professor SueAnne Ware, Faculty of Engineering and Built Environment - Tactical urbanism GZ in China
Dr Deborah Wise, Faculty of Education and Arts – Advancing Australian public relations student’s understanding of professional practice in Indonesia
UON Global – Semester exchange in Singapore
UON Global – Semester exchange, internship and language training in China
UON Global – Semester exchange and language training in Japan
UON Global – Semester exchange in Republic of Korea
UON Global – Semester exchange in Malaysia
UON-led cross-institutional projects:
Dr Elena Aydos, Faculty of Business and Law – Environmental regulation in Australia and Japan
Dr Lyn Ebert, Faculty of Health and Medicine – Growing health partnerships globally in China
Dr Silvia Frisia, Faculty of Science – Global changes impacts in the South Pacific: Field study in the Cook Islands
Emeritus Professor Tim Roberts, Faculty of Science – Cultural awareness through tropical ecology and forest rehabilitation in Indonesia
Dr Marcus Rodrigs, Faculty of Business and Law – Intensive business and finance project in Malaysia
In 2019, the New Colombo Plan will support 11,817 students from 40 Australian universities to take part in 792 mobility projects across 36 host locations in the Indo-Pacific region.
The awarded funding to the University of Newcastle for 2019 represents 4.42 per cent of the $28.7 million offered overall, which is an increase from 4.36 per cent awarded in 2018.
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