Dubai: Australia is open for business and committed to deepening economic engagement with the Gulf region, said Andrew Robb, Australia Trade and Investment Minister.
The Minister is currently on a promotional tour to the gulf under the Australia Unlimited Mena 2014 event, which opened in Dubai on Sunday.
The event aims at creating greater awareness of bilateral trade, investment and cultural ties that exist between Australia and the Mena region, and also increase understanding of Australia’s capability in trade, education, investment and tourism sectors, to promote commercial opportunities for Australia business in two of the region’s leading markets, UAE and Saudi Arabia.
During his opening remarks, Robb talked about Australian investment capabilities in education, agriculture and food, resource and water management, urban development and rail.
“We are here to put sincere effort to raise and take UAE and Australia to the next level in sports and tourism,” he said.
He added that the UAE and the gulf countries in general have large sovereign wealth funds with and Australian government is looking to attract new international investments into food security, agriculture and infrastructure projects.
Robb added; “We are now focusing on sovereign funds such as UAE, Saudi, Kuwait and other Gulf countries, which is a several billion Australian dollar investments as Australia is a stable country with low risk and has medium return investments due to the country’s political and economic stability.
Australia has a total value of A$700 billion (Dh2.4 trillion) in projects to develop major infrastructure in order to keep pace with the growth in its population and its economy. The government will capitalise on the economic strength of the Gulf countries to go on with these developments, he added.
“There is a strong fit between demand in the Gulf and Australia’s strengths. Both the UAE and Saudi Arabia are investing in infrastructure and restructuring their economies,” he Robb said. This would create an investment opportunities for Australian in the region.
In his keynote speech, Sultan Al Mansouri, UAE Minister of Economy, said that the bilateral economic ties between the UAE and Australia have been growing over the past years but there is still opportunity to diversify and enhance trade between the two countries.
UAE-Australia bilateral trade touched Dh21.23 billion in 2013, 24 per cent increase compared to 2012, he added.
Australia’s exports to the UAE stood at Dh8.78 billion in 2013 while UAE export to Australia stood at Dh12.45 billion in 2013.
Food products are dominant in trade between the two countries, Al Mansouri said.
Food security programme and education are very important for us and the UAE is looking to Australia to provide solution for these main issues in the UAE, he added.
Robb also added that the growth in aviation links between Australia and the Gulf — with more than 140 flights a week — will deepen business links and facilitate growth in the number of tourists from the region.
The UAE is Australia’s largest trading partner in the Mena region, and now ranks as Australia’s 13th largest export destination and 16th for imports of Australian products, said Pablo Kang, Australian Ambassador to the UAE and Qatar.