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Andrew Barr kicks off US trade mission with visit to California's Silicon Valley

Chief Minister Andrew Barr has begun a week-long United States trade mission in California's Silicon Valley, boasting positive economic data makes the ACT a natural home for international investment and innovation.

On Monday, Mr Barr will meet representatives of technology company Seeing Machines, spun out of research at the Australian National University and listed for an initial public offering on the London Stock Exchange in 2005.

Later, he will visit Deakin-based cyber security firm QuintessenceLabs' San Jose offices, before heading to Palo Alto for an environment round-table meeting and a lunch with businesses and the chamber of commerce.

On Wednesday, Mr Barr will travel to Texas for meetings with Austin mayor Steve Adler, IBM Innovation and the Austin Technology Council and chamber of commerce.

He will also use the trip to visit Washington DC for meetings with the Smithsonian Institution, the world's largest museum and research complex.


The trade mission includes representatives of the Canberra Business Chamber and 19 ACT businesses, and will include meetings with Canberra-based company Aspen Medical, ride-sharing company Uber and discussions about investment, renewable energy and information technology.

Aspen Medical donated $2100 to ACT Labor last financial year, as well as $2740 to the ACT Liberal Party.

The government is planning a series of changes to transport regulation to allow Uber and other ride-sharing businesses into the Canberra market from October 30.

Next week, Mr Barr will make an overnight stop in Nara​, Canberra's Japanese sister city.

"Canberra is one of the wealthiest, healthiest, smartest and most innovative places in the world and with an economy back on its feet after harsh cuts to the Commonwealth public service, now is the right time to sell the benefits of investing in the ACT to our biggest overseas trading partners," Mr Barr said.

"To help encourage even further investment in our economy, I will meet investors in Japan. I have held similar meetings previously in Japan, and in other key financial centres, such as Hong Kong, Singapore, Sydney and Melbourne, and these meetings have been successful in encouraging investors to bring business to Canberra."

Canberra is one of the wealthiest, healthiest, smartest and most innovative places in the world.

Andrew Barr

He said the ACT was one of only a handful of jurisdictions to maintain a AAA credit rating, one of just 29 outside the United States. In September, ratings agency Standard and Poor's said it expected the territory economy to remain consistent with the top rating until at least 2017.

Other positive economic data for Mr Barr to spruik overseas includes a monthly increase of 8.3 per cent on building approvals in Canberra. Population growth is at 1.3 per cent, comparable to the national average, while retail trade figures show a 4.7 per cent increase through 2015 - the second-highest growth rate nationally.

Meanwhile, the ACT's state final demand growth stands at 3.1 per cent, which Mr Barr said "made the ACT the fastest-growing Australian economy".

Mr Barr has been an active traveller in his roles as treasurer and Chief Minister. He said in September he would make the US a regular destination, adding to Asian cities, including Beijing and Shenzhen.

Another mission is planned to Singapore in November, focusing on Canberra's tourism offerings, overseas students at the University of Canberra and direct international flights to Canberra Airport.


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