Dubai: A trade delegation led by members of the Victorian state government of Australia is visiting the United Arab Emirates this week in a bid to increase commercial ties with the Middle East and North Africa (Mena) region.
“This market is now very important for Victoria. We now classify it as one of our top priority markets along with India, China and Southeast Asia,” said Mark Napier, the Victorian Commissioner for the Middle East, Africa & Turkey.
The delegation is being led by Louise Asher, Victoria’s Minister for Innovation, Services and Small Business and Minister for Tourism. She is accompanied by Peter Walsh, Victoria’s Minister for Agriculture.
As part of the visit to the UAE the Victorian politicians will facilitate meetings between Victorian and local based companies.
“We’re seeing our exports grow to this region. In 2012/2013 our overall exports to the Mena region was in excess of A$2.7 billion [Dh8.9 billion], up about 8 per cent on the previous year,” Napier said.
The Australian financial year runs from July 1 to June 30.
The ministers have tailored their visit to attend the regions annual food and beverage exhibition, Gulfood.
In the 2012/2013 financial year, food and beverage accounted for A$1.3 billion of Victoria’s exports. Napier said that food exports climbed 15 per cent year-on-year over 2012/2013, when the Australian dollar at a high.
The Australian dollar fell below parity of the US dollar in May 2013, ending a nine month period of trading above the American dollar.
The Australian dollar currently sits at around 0.89 US cents. Napier said this will make Australia more attractive to exports.
The Victorian ministers are expected to meet with members of the UAE government during their visit before splitting the delegation to travel separately on to Oman and Turkey.