06 August 2020

Key insights 

  • US – Auto manufacturers are experiencing a surge of COVID-19 cases as they reopen plants, resulting in high levels of absenteeism. According to industry officials at the Centre for Automotive Research, protracted shutdowns would be devastating as automakers try to restock dealer lots and recoup losses. This could impact Australian suppliers.
  • US – Routine clinical trials are being delayed and US pharma companies are looking for alternative venues. There is a significant opportunity for Australia to attract new clinical trials from the US and Canada if Australia can restart routine clinical trials before they can be resumed in North America.
  • US – New legislation looks likely to boost defence-related shipbuilding. This should benefit Australian naval-design companies operating in the US, and potentially their suppliers.

Market opportunities

  • US — Biotech companies with therapy treatments in development that may be relevant to treating COVID-19 are enjoying strong capital injections. Boston-based Novellus is developing a cell-therapy treatment for acute respiratory failure and is looking to find connections, run trials and develop partners in the Australian market. Australia’s proven ability to partner in high quality research at a low relative cost is attractive to US pharma companies. The US Health team believes US demand for these services will remain strong.
  • US — The Senate Republicans’ coronavirus relief proposal provides good news for defence companies. The legislation – which includes nearly US$30 billion for national security and the defense industrial sector – would allocate US$10.8 billion to reimburse contractors for their expenses during the pandemic.
  • US — The new bill also includes US$260 million for an additional Expeditionary Fast Transport ship made by Australian-owned Austal Ltd., in Mobile, Alabama. The funds are part of a larger US$2.2 billion provision in the bill to boost shipbuilding.
  • US — Concerns are growing that US automakers won’t be able to keep factories running amid high absenteeism and increasing COVID-19 infections at plants owned by major US carmakers. The increasing rate of employees missing work is placing pressure on already stressed production lines at manufacturing plants across the Midwest. Many employees are healthy, but are required to self-quarantine for 14-days following possible exposure.


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