\ Opinion Piece: And finally the winner really will be Sydney – Committee For Sydney

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Opinion Piece: And finally the winner really will be Sydney

September 4, 2014

By Tim Williams, CEO Committee for Sydney 

Published: Daily Telegraph

GUESS which country has the 12th-biggest economy on the planet? Or the world’s third-largest pool of superannuation funds? Or the second-biggest real estate investment fund? Or the best regulated finance system?

Yes, that’s right: Australia.

Pick yourself up. There’s more.

Sydney itself has just been listed as eighth in a league table of global cities, on a par with Beijing.

Since that list was compiled by Singapore, one of Sydney’s competing cities, we should probably conclude we are up there with the very best.

At the heart of Sydney’s high global rating is also its main contribution to the national economy: world-class financial and professional services.

Here’s another fact you don’t hear much of in the national dialogue: Most Australian wealth is created by its cities and not the resources sector. Sydney’s CBD alone contributes almost as much to Australia’s wealth as mining, and our financial sector by itself provides more than 5 per cent to Australia’s GDP.

That is why Sydney matters.

We are a key engine of national growth — and a major source of tax revenue — with a great potential to be an exporter of financial and professional services to the wider region.

That is why the Committee for Sydney and its many members, who are leaders in the sector, are working closely with the NSW government on understanding the role Sydney plays as Australia’s “knowledge hub’’ for financial services and how we can increase their penetration of global markets.

With the Premier visiting China this week this is a good moment to barrack for Sydney on the international stage as the centre of Australia’s financial services. I have no doubt our proud Sydneysider of a Premier will have this at the top of his mind when speaking with his hosts.

Mike Baird is a former banker of experience and will be a highly credible spruiker of our city’s strengths in financial services.

A main reason for his mission to China will be to ensure that Sydney becomes a renminbi trading hub where the Chinese currency can be used in transactions — a status that will greatly expand business and tourism opportunities here.

London benefits enormously from having the UK Prime Minister and other leaders promote the capital city’s role as a financial services centre and it is fantastic to have Baird playing the same ambassadorial role for Sydney.

And, given that for every mining job there are 1.5 job spin-offs while financial services produce a multiplier of 4.5 jobs, all Sydneysiders, whatever job they do, will understand the causal link between financial sector development and economic growth — and wish the Premier success.

And what a moment to be doing it, with Barangaroo — not just Sydney’s new financial district but a Canary Wharf for the Pacific — getting ready for lift-off.

The timing of Sydney’s renewed services-driven momentum also couldn’t be better from both a domestic and a global perspective. Our strength in the finance sector is enabling us to tap into a global recovery while other parts of Australia seek to manage the slowdown in mining investment and the continued reduction in manufacturing.

Further, with China’s urban and middle class population exploding and looking for a safe opportunity to grow their savings and investments in confidence, there couldn’t be a better moment for the Premier’s visit.

China’s emerging consumer economy is the basis for an entirely new market for Australia.

Australia can sell more than bauxite and coal. It can sell those services on which Sydney’s current prosperity and importance for the nation’s economy is built.

The Lucky Country relied on natural resources. Global Sydney will win on its talent and capacity to add value in the knowledge-based services of the 21st century.

If we follow the lead of the Premier and the vision set out in his new China Strategy — promoting Sydney as a leading financial services centre — the Asian Century will also be Sydney’s.

Read the article online here.

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