Dubai: The Australian state government of Victoria is looking for new primary export to the Middle East following the announcement earlier this month Toyota Australia will cease manufacturing after 2017.
“It is disappointing and we’re going to have to try transition very quickly. But there was nothing the Victorian government could do [to stop Toyota leaving],” said Louise Asher, Minister for Innovation, Services and Small Business and Minister for Tourism and Major Events.
Louise Asher was speaking to Gulf News on the sidelines of food and beverage industry event Gulfood in Dubai last week. Asher is also Victoria Minister for Employment and Trade and Deputy of Leader of the Victorian Liberal Party.
Toyota have manufactured and exported over a million Camrys from Victoria to the Middle East since 1986, according to the Victorian government business office in Dubai.
The Toyota announcement follows Ford and Holden’s (General Motors) decision to exit the Australian manufacturing industry.
Automotive exports to the United Arab Emirates — of which the Victorian built Camry accounts for the bulk of orders — contributes around AUD200 million ($178.66 million, Dh656 million) a year to national exports.
“The premier asked these companies if there was anything the Victorian government can do to assist and the answer was no because the car industry is moving from Australia because of global reasons,” Asher said.
Asher is in the UAE leading a trade delegation of 110 Victorian companies in a bid to boost commercial links between the state and country.
She said that 80 per cent of the companies on the delegation were small and medium enterprise (SME) sized.
“This [trade delegation] … is one of things the government has been looking at to try and find export markets for our existing businesses to try and give them a larger market,” Asher said.
Since winning the election in 2010 the Victorian state Liberal government has lead 2,600 companies on trade delegations.
But the departure of Toyota is set to leave a dent in the states exports.
“We have to build now. This is part of the reason we have done the trade mission programme that we want out businesses to find new markets. We’re concentrating on India, China, the Middle East and Southeast Asia,” Asher said.