Deals Down Under

Heiko Stumpf has been in charge of the Germany Trade & Invest (GTAI) ­office in ­Sydney, Australia since August 2018. Markets Germany talked to him about his ­experiences so far “Down Under.”

July 2019

Sidney © Dan Freeman/Unsplash

You have been with GTAI in Sydney for 10 months. What are your impressions of the city and Australia?

Heiko Stumpf: I find the friendliness and open-mindedness of the Australians especially pleasant. The social hierarchies are rather flat, which also means that people are more approachable in business circles. Widespread optimism is also apparent. The country has not experienced a recession for 27 years, meaning young people have never known crisis periods. The country’s population is growing rapidly due to immigration from all over the world. As a result, Sydney is a vibrant multicultural melting pot. Australians are also quick to adopt technical innovations, making the country an interesting test market.

What image do Australians have of Germany? Is “Made in Germany” recognized as a mark of quality? Are Australian investors interested in Germany?

Stumpf: Germany is perceived very positively here. Australians, like New Zealanders, are very fond of traveling, and many take long trips to Europe in their youth. So it is not unusual to meet people with personal connections to Germany. German quality standards are highly regarded. Australians particularly appreciate the reliability of German products as well as the good after-sales service. On the other hand, Australian companies are also interested in Germany. As the Australian market is comparatively small, with a population of 25 million people, companies often seek out growth opportunities overseas. Interest in Germany should continue to increase in the coming years if the free trade agreement currently being negotiated between Australia and the European Union (E.U.) is successfully concluded.

»Germany is perceived very positively here.«

In addition to attracting investors to Germany, Heiko Stumpf also provides German companies with information about business opportunities in Australia and New Zealand. He previously worked for GTAI in southern Africa for six years. From 2008 to 2012 he assisted foreign investors with legal issues in Berlin.

© Photo: GTAI/Studio Prokopy

Which industrial sectors are thriving in Australia and New Zealand and are seen as offering significant investment opportunities by GTAI?

Stumpf: Both Australia and New Zealand have a very good research environment, which has spurred the development of innovative medical-technology companies. Germany, the largest European healthcare market, offers them many opportunities. Companies like Cochlear (Australia), Resmed (Australia) or Fischer & Paykel (New Zealand) are already active in Germany. The IT sector is also booming. Australia also has a thriving start-up scene with some 1,500 companies evolving around numerous supporting institutions, such as the Sydney Startup Hub. These hubs are focused on important areas, including artificial intelligence, agricultural technology and FinTech. Morevoer, New Zealand’s technology sector is booming: the country’s 200 largest tech companies increased their sales by 11 percent between 2017 and 2018.

GTAI works closely with the AHK in Sydney. How does this cooperation benefit investors?

Stumpf: GTAI and AHK share information, and their services complement each other well. For example, local companies interested in the German market can take advantage of delegation trips or a business partner placement organized by AHK. Meanwhile, if a concrete opportunity arises in Germany, GTAI can help with finding a location and provide information about possible subsidies.