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Australia has four diplomats around the world responsible for “investment.” It’s not surprising the one dedicated to North America is based in San Francisco. Why? “This is where the action is,” Robert Hunt, Australia’s investment commissioner, told us over lunch Friday. Whether for IT, communications, biotech or nanotech, Australia is after the same hot, high-value-add tech industries that Silicon Valley is world class in. Now that China’s huge, and increasingly open market is all the rage among investors, Australia is using its proximity to Asia to try to lure Silicon Valley start-ups to Australia as a staging ground for a full frontal into mainland Asia. “We use the gateway argument quite a bit,” says Hunt. His team of five quite often cold call Bay Area tech companies hoping to sell them on the idea of going to Australia early in their worldwide expansion plans. In fact, Australia has been supplying China with natural resources for the last 25 years of China’s impressive growth, including liquified natural gas, cola, iron ore and so on, Hunt says. So he has a point. Still, we were left wondering whether U.S. companies really need a bridge strategy any more. Recent trends suggest they’re not wasting any time going directly to China (or India). Anyway, for more info on Hunt’s pitch about Australia: www.investaustralia.gov.au.

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