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Joe Biden announces $250,000 to boost Indigenous trade between Australia and the US

Brendan Foster -

Supply Nation chief executive Kate Russell said United States President Joe Biden pledging $250,000 to boost Indigenous trade between Australia and the US was a "light at the end of a post-referendum dark tunnel".

Ms Russell was in the US alongside Prime Minister Anthony Albanese and was invited to attend the Australian Embassy opening in Washington with the PM.

While in the US, Ms Russell lead a roundtable discussion on Indigenous trade and investment between Supply Nation and the Native American Business Association (NABA).

At the time of the roundtable, Mr Biden announced a quarter of a million dollars in funding to support the "ongoing dialogue, knowledge-sharing and increased business opportunities for Indigenous businesses between both countries".

Ms Russell said following the meeting, NABA and Supply Nation would co-design initiatives to facilitate Indigenous opportunities across the Pacific.

"Supply Nation works with partners like the National Minority Supplier Development Council (NMSDC) and the Global Supplier Diversity Alliance (GSDA) to ensure Indigenous businesses are able to leverage every opportunity possible, particularly in relation to trade and export," Ms Russell said.

"The ongoing relationship we have with our NABA colleagues is based on cultural values, knowledge sharing, deep respect and opportunity creation."

Ms Russell thanked the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Austrade, Australia's Consul-General to Canada, Josh Riley, Professor Tom Calma and Kungarakan Elder for their support of the initiative.

It's been reported that Professor Calma was the only Australian singled out by Mr Biden for a lengthy chat during Mr Albanese's recent visit to the White House.

"Tom has always been a great supporter of Indigenous businesses and it was fantastic that he mentioned our work to President Biden when they spoke earlier this week," Ms Russell said.

"It was a privilege to have him at the table."

NABA President Amanda Smith said First Nations people in the US and Australia shared similar histories and common aspirations.

"Both of our peoples have survived colonisation and shown incredible resilience. Both of us know that a strong business sector and a growing Indigenous economy is essential to our survival as distinct, self-determining peoples," she said.

Ms Smith said NABA had learnt a great deal from Supply Nation about how a centralised database can transform supplier diversity.


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