Businesses in Victoria want to boost bilateral trade with the GCC, Australian government officials say.
“The Victoria Gulf States Engagement Strategy aims to increases trade and investment to Victoria,” said Louise Asher, minister for innovation, services and small businesses, and minister for tourism and major events
Australia has generated interest from Middle Eastern investors to buy land to secure food in the region, according to Asher, adding that the Victorian government wants to “bring people from the UAE to see what’s available; we are open for business.”
“Australia has a great interest in countries with food security issues,” said Gary Helou, managing director at Murray Goulburn in Victoria, which exports dairy products.
The company announced on Monday the opening of an office in Dubai.
It “ will deliver ingredients and branded products to local ingredient processors and food service customers,” said Helou.
It plans to boost supplies to the country by “connecting with the local market” and getting insights and product specifications from local people, who will also be heading the office, Helou said.
The Mena region imports 1.2 million tonnes of dairy, which is valued at A$3.8 billion.
He added that the company is open to collaborations and starting joint ventures in the country.
The Victoria delegation at Gulfood, which has seen an increase to 70 businesses from 20 in 2011, aims to facilitate businesses to enter new markets, especially smaller ones that need some support, said Asher.
“Victoria has a well-established presence in the Gulf, with a Victorian Government Business Office operating in Dubai since it was opened in 1997. There are also daily flights by Emirates, Etihad Airways and Qatar Airways direct from Melbourne to the Gulf which has presented significant trade and tourism opportunities between Victoria and the Middle East North Africa (Mena) region,” said Asher. The state is tapping into different business sectors in the region, including “agribusiness, tourism, equine, water, and education,” she said.
The GCC is attractive for Victorian businesses due to its young population, high spending power, and high food imports, she said.
— Sarah Algethami is a trainee at Gulf News