How NQ establishes trade links with Britain

The British Consul General has landed in Townsville to discuss unlocking new trade and investment opportunities, with a focus on agriculture and technology.

Townsville led the way in capitalizing on the Britain-Australia Free Trade Agreement when the first shipment of sugar worth about $19 million left the city’s port for Britain last September.

British Consul General Richard Cowin said London-based company Tate and Lyle had “very quickly secured sugar exports from North Queensland” when tariffs were removed last year.

More potential investment and trading opportunities were on the agenda when he met Townsville Mayor Troy Thompson and Townsville Enterprise boss Claudia Brumme-Smith during a visit on Monday.

Ms Brumme-Smith said $500 million worth of metals were already crossing Townsville yards to Britain, but this new trade deal created new opportunities.

“For example, the tariff-free import of sugar and beef is very important to us because we are the largest sugar-producing region in the country and also the second largest exporter of live cattle,” she said.

British Consul General to Queensland Richard Cowin (centre) with Townsville Enterprise boss Claudia Brumme-Smith and Townsville Mayor Troy Thompson. Photo: Natasha Emeck

“We know that defense investments are coming our way and in return they are going to Rolls-Royce and other companies in Britain.”

Mr Cowin highlighted opportunities in the “agri-tech space” which he believed could benefit North Queensland.

“In Britain and Australia we’ve shared challenges … whether that’s things like labor challenges and some of the automation that we can bring about that,” he said.

“There are some great British companies coming to Queensland with robot fruit picking.

“We have companies that want to convert banana waste into energy and useful products in the beverage industry. There really is a lot we can work together on.”

Mayor Thompson said at the meeting they also touched on issues such as the city’s housing crisis and the build-to-rent scheme the UK government has introduced to increase housing supply.

“We encourage the consul general to come more often because I think the more we work together, the better we grow,” he said. “So our city is always open to Great Britain.”

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