Genna Elvin presents "Why the world is looking to Luxembourg"; Credit: Jazmin Campbell

On Thursday 11 July 2019, the recently launched Australia and New Zealand Chamber of Commerce Luxembourg (ANZCCL) held its first event at Cercle Munster in Luxembourg-Grund.

The ANZCCL's first event since its launch in February this year focused on "Why the world is looking to Luxembourg." Committee member Genna Elvin, who is originally from New Zealand and co-founded the Luxembourg tech company Tadaweb, presented the topic, as well as the main mission of the Grand Duchy's newest chamber. Above all, the ANZCCL aims to bridge the business ecosystems of Australia, New Zealand and Luxembourg using a multilateral approach and thus "identify, leverage and support opportunities" within this context. 

Returning to the question "why Luxembourg?", Genna highlighted the Grand Duchy's "appetite for diversity", exceeding beyond the world of finance, and its openness to foreigners. She compared this context with the mature Australian economy which is similarly based on immigration, as well as New Zealand's move away from its traditionally agricultural economy towards sectors like manufacturing. She then defined the main markets the ANZCCL has identified for such opportunities to date, namely the talent, space, education and testing sectors.

Genna similarly highlighted the potential opportunities for Australia and New Zealand's commercial links with Luxembourg in the context of Brexit. Using the case of London, a city that continues to attract a lot of talent from Australia and New Zealand, she pointed out the similarities between the British capital and Luxembourg in terms of attractiveness. Her analysis found that it was easy and relatively quick to find a job in both London and Luxembourg, both offer relatively high salaries (Luxembourg boasts the highest GDP per capita in the world) and both locations excel at developing, attracting and retaining talent. This was illustrated by the fact that Luxembourg is ranked among the Top 10 in the IMD World Talent Report. She pointed out that whilst Luxembourg has a high cost of living, this was also the case in London, and that Luxembourg had the additional advantages of multilingualism, its central location in Europe and the ambition of its government to diversify the economy.

She added that incentives such as work holiday visas should encourage greater exchanges between Australia, New Zealand in Luxembourg in the near future- although she admitted that work remains to be done concerning the visibility of such programmes (especially among New Zealanders).  The ANZCCL also hope to work with the governments in Australia and New Zealand to develop an action plan to counter the brain drain to the UK by bringing talent in from Europe, namely Luxembourg. 

An engaging Q&A session followed the presentation, during which members of the audience (some ten to twenty members with different links to Australia and New Zealand) brainstormed with the committee members present (Genna Elvin, as well as co-chairs Tony Whiteman from New Zealand and Maya Joshi from Australia) on how the chamber can develop. In this context, the committee emphasised the importance of interaction with its members, especially at the start of its journey. Some of the topics touched upon during the Q&A included education (the need to attract graduates, the fact that Luxembourg now has a university, the need to better advertise programmes and facilitate visa processes), the need to dispel myths and deepen mutual understanding between Australia and New Zealand and Luxembourg (regarding language, location, stereotypes, eg Luxembourg as a tax haven and New Zealand as a solely agricultural country), time difference and distance, and dialogue between the chamber and the relevant embassies and government institutions in the three countries.

The committee members concluded by announcing plans for future sessions to learn more about the Australian and New Zealand communities in Luxembourg, as well as their intention to run two or three events per year, plus joint events in collaboration with the embassies and perhaps even companies.