Australian companies eye US security market

Despite concerns by Australian open source industry groups that an Australia-U.S. Free Trade Agreement (FTA) will result in U.S.-led intellectual property laws being applied here, Austrade is confident the agreement will open a US$30 billion homeland security market to Australian technology companies.

Austrade senior ICT export advisor Katharine Heather said the U.S. government market, while not a new opportunity with a “heap of” Australian companies already selling into it, it has traditionally been a complex process.

“The FTA will result in the relaxation of some regulations, but business won’t be handed out on a plate,” Heather said. “The main challenges are complex distribution channels, a highly competitive marketplace, a long sales cycle, the need for highly innovative solutions, and finding U.S. partners.”

To help local ICT companies explore U.S. government market opportunities and entrance strategies, Austrade is hosting series of seminars together with state governments.

The U.S. Government Procurement Seminars will be held in Melbourne, Canberra, Sydney, Brisbane, Perth, and Adelaide, from Nov. 30.

Ursys, a local manufacturer of Linux-based network security devices, is one such company that fits Austrade’s ICT export profile.

Ursys’ managing director, Grahame Cover, said although the company does not yet export directly, its products are being implemented overseas by Australian companies.

“We’ve had several dealings with Austrade to establish opportunities in the Middle East,” Cover said. “Overseas business circumstances are just so different and it’s good to have Austrade to smooth that front for you.”

If approved, the FTA is expected to come into force on Jan. 1, 2005.

Meanwhile, Austrade is looking to appoint a knowledge and information manager to “lead the future development of Australia’s knowledge and information management function”.

Austrade’s CIO Greg Field said although the role fits into the commission’s knowledge management department and not IT, he would not object to an IT professional applying for the job.

“The role stretches from performance management to delivering better business results and is much more than technology,” Field said. “It is a direct report to the CIO and will involve interaction with IT in a daily basis.”

A remuneration package of A$140,000 (US$107,000) is on offer and applications close Nov. 19.

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