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Thursday, 25 March 1999
Page: 4428

Mr HAWKER —My question is directed to the Minister for Financial Services and Regulation. In relation to the recent benefits that he has told us about with developing Australia as a centre for global financial services, do such developments have any implication for the export of Australian financial services into the Asian region?

Mr HOCKEY (Financial Services and Regulation) —I can report information that would be pleasing to the Deputy Prime Minister—that is, that financial exports have more than doubled over the last five years. In part, that is attributable to the Asian financial crisis which has led to South-East Asian countries requesting Australian support in relation to corporate restructuring, accounting and legal services, debt recovery, financial forecasting and merger and acquisition activity. I can also report that Australian regulatory authorities such as the Australian Securities and Investments Commission, the RBA, the Australian Bureau of Statistics, the ACCC and APRA are all playing a role in the region. They are up there providing regulatory advice and services to the region in assisting the region to rebuild the regulatory framework that will help it recover from the Asian financial crisis.

We must build on these existing relationships. I am very pleased to observe that AMP has announced a strategic link with the Unit Trust of India. The Unit Trust of India is no minnow in the provision of financial services. It has $US15 billion in funds under management. It has 50 million customer accounts and it manages more than six offshore funds. AMP and the Unit Trust of India have indicated that they are developing a $US500 million infrastructure fund that will assist with the construction of power generation facilities, transport, oil, gas and telecommunications facilities in India. This follows on the successful activities of other financial institutions in the Asian region such as Macquarie Bank, the Australia-New Zealand Banking Corporation, AMP, NAB, GIO, QBE, Westpac and many others.

If we are seeking to be a financial centre for the region, it is important that we provide the world with access to the Asian region without the risks of the region. That can be best facilitated by actively participating in the region and encouraging Australian financial institutions to be more involved in the financial recovery of Asia.