The largest ever Australian trade mission to the Middle East, led by the Victorian Coalition Government, is now expected to lead to an annual increase in exports of at least $137.4 million according to the participating Victorian companies.
Victorian Minister for Innovation, Services and Small Business Louise Asher said the Coalition Government-sponsored trade mission was an overwhelming success for local businesses and a boost for the Victorian economy.
“The Coalition Government is working to increase exports, and the Middle East trade mission along with the two India trade missions, the China trade mission last year and the upcoming China mission this year are designed to do this. These results from the Middle East mission show the Coalition’s strategy is working,” Ms Asher said.
“The 100 companies that joined me on the trade mission to Qatar, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Saudi Arabia in February 2012 have reported immediate export sales of more than $17.2 million.
“This includes outcomes of $3.5 million over two years for 2011 Governor of Victoria Export Award winner, Longwarry Food Park, and $3 million over two years to regional abattoir CRF Colac.
“This is an excellent result for the companies that have expanded their export business into the Middle East and an important development for the Victorian economy.
“These results are an update on the interim $92.4 million figure I provided to Parliament in March,” Ms Asher said.
The Middle East is now Victoria’s largest market for food and beverage, and a significant market for Victorian education, agribusiness, water, infrastructure, tourism and skilled migration. The Middle East is also the world’s second largest dairy import market, with Victorian exports to the region growing by 18 per cent last year, to a total of $272 million in 2010/11.
“Significantly, iconic Victorian dairy company Murray Goulburn Co-operative has announced plans to immediately establish a strategic business unit based in Dubai to develop strong relationships with key customers and market the Devondale brand to consumers in the region,” Ms Asher said.
“Iconic dairy brand Bega and its wholly owned subsidiary Tatura Milk Industries will also spend $7.8m on expanding their Tatura facility to accommodate increased demand from the Middle East for dairy products.”
Ms Asher said the mission included a Victorian Government stand at Gulfood in Dubai, the largest annual food and beverage trade show in the world, which was used by Warrnambool Cheese and Butter to launch its award-winning products world-wide.
“More than 80 Victorian companies exhibited at Gulfood to more than 65,000 buyers from around the world. Last year Victorian companies attending the Gulfood exhibition reported $57 million in estimated export outcomes,” Ms Asher said.
Ms Asher said the mission was also the platform to launch the Victorian Connection Program, an initiative to assist people who have lived and studied in Victoria to stay connected and to act as ambassadors at large for Victoria.