The Sound of Business: the Austrian Business Agency

by Jutta Kern  

"The Sound of Music" certainly strikes a sweet note with most Americans. While its tunes may promote the Austrian Alps and other natural beauties as a favorite location for an upcoming blockbuster, the (in)famous musical nevertheless conveys only a partial picture. The Austrian Business Agency (ABA), therefore, not only promotes Austria as an attractive business location by actively approaching businesses around the world, but also tries to correct persistent stereotypes in order to attract foreign investment in Austria.


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Founded in 1982, the Austrian Business Agency (ABA) serves businesses worldwide with advice on all questions arising from foreign investment in Austria. The ABA, as the "international investor's first business address," is headed by managing director René Siegl. ABA takes the interested investor free of charge through all the steps of realizing business or equity investment in Austria. 

 

The government-operated consulting firm, with branch offices in the United States and Japan, delivers specific facts to the interested investor, ranging from issues like cost factors, tax incentives, and labor regulations, to questions of work permits and site selection, explained Hans Nagl, director North America for bridges. Also in the portfolio is the specific support for personal arrangements of expatriate managers to ease them into their new surroundings.

 

 With sector-specific brochures, the ABA tries to lower the threshold for investors wishing to get actively involved in a consulting process with the ABA. Fact-based pamphlets like "Austria as a Business Location" and "Starting Business in Austria" are supplemented by more specific ones on tax aspects, the automotive industry, biotechnology, chemicals, and research among others.

Austria is internationally recognized as a leading location for expanding business to eastern and southeastern Europe. More than 1,000 multinational companies coordinate their central and eastern European operations from an Austrian base. In addition, the ABA reports that a higher-than-average number of multinational companies have set up their research and development departments in Austria due to competitive tax advantages. These R&D companies or subsidies account for 20 percent of total R&D expenditures in Austria and contribute a 30 percent share of corporate sector investments in research and development.

 

In 2004, the ABA successfully concluded 107 investment projects together with the regional investment promotion agencies leveraging €282.6 million in investments, a total of 1,254 new jobs, and the setup of 15 new production facilities.

 

While anyone can do research on investment locations - and one might think that investors have done their homework before settling on a specific location - the ABA has something unique to offer, something that remains unattainable to corporate departments even through the most diligently accomplished background checks: ABA can open doors. Once the goal is defined, the ABA offers its network to its clients, and helps them to establish important contacts and coordinate with appropriate regional investment promotion agencies. Most importantly, the ABA also makes introductions: "being well introduced" in Austria is just as important as it is elsewhere in  the world, and can only be offered by local contacts.


For more information on the Austrian Business Agency, please visit: www.aba.gv.at


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