SACC Perth WA – Strengthening business ties

Figge Boksjo says Swedish business values are well respected.

Photo: Attila Csaszar Strengthening business ties

Author: Matt Mckenzie

Published: Wednesday, 21 March, 2018

Two new business groups plan to strengthen Western Australia’s economic links with innovative overseas economies, with the Swedish Australian Chamber of Commerce and WA Singapore Business Connect opening Perth chapters.

Figge Boksjo, who is chair of the WA branch of the Swedish Chamber, told Business News the organisation would join with the local embassy and trade council to enable and engage Swedish-Australian businesses.

It is the third Swedish business chapter in Australia, joining a branch in Melbourne and the original in Sydney, which has operated for more than a century.

Some of the best-known members of the WA chapter, which opened earlier this month, are homewares retailer Ikea, fashion store H&M, carmaker Volvo and conglomerate Saab, Mr Boksjo said.

More than any one company, however, there was an overarching theme about the way the country did business, he said.

“Being Swedish, most of them tap into Swedish business ethics and the values Swedes are hopefully famous for,” Mr Boksjo said.

Those included diversity, non-discrimination and sustainability, while he said Bloomberg had ranked Sweden as the world’s second most innovative nation.

WA Singapore Business Connect will have a distinctive advantage when it launches next month, according to vice-president Henry Heng.

“The most Singaporeans living outside Singapore are actually in Perth,” Mr Heng told Business News.

Singapore was also one of the state’s largest trading partners, he said, with WA retaining a trade office in that country.

“There is a lot of opportunity to build on Singaporean relations,” Mr Heng said.

However, existing international business chambers (see list) have not been immune to the impact of the state’s economic downturn.

For the American Chamber of Commerce, the focus has been on diversifying its offering, including through an office move, according to general manager WA Penelope Williamson.

“It has been very hard to keep people as members throughout the downturn,” Ms Williamson told Business News.

She said the chamber had taken a new facility at 44 St Georges Terrace, with an expanded space including a members’ lounge.

That will be available for members, particularly from smaller, suburban business, to use for meetings.

One key program for the association’s 284 members was a series of three trade missions, including sending delegations to the Offshore Technology Conference in Houston, which it has done now for 20 years.

At the Western Australian Croatian Chamber of Commerce, membership softened a bit during the downturn according to treasurer Dennis Yagmich, although there is real interest from Croatia’s business and political community to expand ties overseas.

While trade delegations are among the offerings available to members of the Croatian chamber, it participates in an annual T20 cricket competition in Croatia, run by members.

Meanwhile, Hong Kong Business Association WA president Matthew Clarke said his network had grown in the past four years despite the downturn, reaching around 120 members.

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