New Asia-Pacific Business Alliance drives post-COVID recovery

A new Canberra-based alliance that will connect Australian producers with Asia-Pacific buyers is already delivering results, with the signing of three Memorandums of Understanding for cross-cultural trade.

The Asia-Pacific Business Alliance (APBA), launched in front of an audience comprising Australian business, government and industry officials at a Business Leaders’ Forum in Canberra on Friday, creates an ecosystem in which small to medium-sized Australian enterprises will have access to buyers, sellers and facilitators with established connections to Asia-Pacific nations.

Founding members of the not-for-profit alliance include the Agribusiness Regional Development Association (ARDA), which has received Commonwealth Government funding for three projects supporting agricultural businesses in the Capital Region and Southern NSW, the Australian Fujian Entrepreneurs Association Incorporated (AFEAI), the China Australia Trade and Investment Council (CATIC), the Australian Vietnam Alliance (AVA), the AnHui Chamber of Commerce in Cambodia and the Ningde Chamber of Commerce in New Zealand.

It is expected representatives from the Singaporean and Indonesian business communities will also become members.

“COVID-19 has fundamentally changed the way we do business, so it has never been more important to share ideas, build trusted partnerships and work together to build new trading opportunities between Australia and Asia-Pacific nations including Vietnam, Singapore, Indonesia, Cambodia, India, Thailand and China,” said Stephen Hambridge, deputy chair of ARDA, which jointly organised the launch event with CATIC.

In particular, the alliance will help local businesses embrace the significant opportunities presented by the rapidly expanding digital economy, and an increasingly affluent Asia-Pacific middle class which values high-quality Australian products and experiences.

During Friday’s APBA launch, which was addressed by ACT Commissioner for International Engagement Brendan Smyth and Canberra Business Chamber CEO Graham Catt, an MoU was signed between a B2B platform facilitating trade opportunities between Australia and the Asia Pacific. The agreement will open up new opportunities for Mr Farrah’s Fyshwick-based business, Farrah’s Liquor Collective, to sell Australian wines to Asia-Pacific buyers.

A second MoU, signed by YPA Group and project fund facilitator Koopman Securities, establishes a joint venture in which the partners will work together to build volume and value to supply fish and seafood from the NSW South Coast to international markets.

Mr Catt said it was critical for businesses to look to new markets in the Asia-Pacific.

“We live in an amazing region from a lifestyle point of view and in terms of the goods and services we can offer the rest of the world and the rest of Australia,” he said.

“The businesses who have done well over the past six months are those who have focused on building their networks, building relationships with customers and supply chains. The new alliance will give Canberra businesses a huge head start in nurturing these sorts of relationships.”

“Looking internationally is the thing businesses must do to keep scaling and growing and driving forward.”

A third Memorandum of Understanding was signed between YPA Group and ASX-listed Australian company AuMake, which operates a fully integrated online and instore shopping experience for Asian consumers and has sold more than $125 million worth of Australian and New Zealand products into Asia-Pacific nations over the past three years.

The agreement will enable YPA to source and supply Australian products direct to international buyers through AuMake’s online and offline channels.

One of the first companies to benefit from the collaboration is Kissed Earth, an Australian wellness brand created by husband and wife, and former Dancing with the Stars duo, Rachael Finch and Michael Miziner, whose products will be sold across AuMake’s channels.

AuMake founder and managing director Joshua Zhou says Kissed Earth was the perfect choice for Asia-Pacific buyers, who look for authenticity, quality and provenance when making purchasing decisions.

AFEAI president Dr Vincent Lin said the pandemic had forced countries to rethink and redefine the idea of globalisation, which presented great opportunities for initiatives such as the new Asia-Pacific Business Alliance.

“Economic regionalisation is very likely to replace the existing global industrial layout,” said Dr Lin. “Australia and the Asia Pacific countries are highly complementary in an economic sense and have great potential for growth. If these regions can cooperate well, it is possible to form a regional industrial chain and have the opportunity to become a global leader.”

Mr Hambridge added that alliance members expected the three MoUs would be the first of many.

“We have exceptional produce and products in Australia. These agreements, and the sustainable opportunities that a group such as the Asia-Pacific Business Alliance can facilitate, provide a light at the end of the tunnel for Australian businesses who have been doing it tough in 2020.”

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