Atlanta is becoming a focal point for Australian businesses that see the Southeast as a launching pad for entry into the North American market, which will help reduce the sizable trade deficit that the country runs with the U.S., said Trade Minister Bob McMullan.

While the 2000 Sydney Summer Olympics is an important “connector” between the Southeast and Australia, Mr. McMullan said that the area figured into his itinerary because of increasing economic linkages with this region, which uses Atlanta as its hub. Mr. McMullan spoke to the Australian American Chamber of Commerce at the World Trade Club in downtown Atlanta.

While on a recent tour of the Southeast, he said he met with regional firms that plan to establish their headquarters for Southeast Asia in Australia.

Mr. McMullan said that in 1993-94 his country ran a trade deficit with the U.S. of about $7 billion, accounting for more than half of his country’s total deficit. The American market is closed, he complained,  to goods that Australia is strong in, such as sugar and dairy products and high-speed ferries. His ministry’s top priority is to gain further involvement in the North American market, he said.

Last year Australia was the sixth largest foreign investor in Georgia and the second largest foreign investor in manufacturing, he said. Wachovia Bank of Georgia estimated that Australia has the state’s eighth largest export market in first quarter of 1995.

For more information, Ian Wing, consul general and senior trade commissioner at the Australian Trade Commission, may be reached at (404) 880-1709; fax (404) 880-1701.

                                                                              by James Keaten