Ambassador plans to boost exchange

WHILE Germany is regarded as one of the most technologically advanced countries in the world, when it comes to making wine, Western Australia, with its world-class technology, is streets ahead.

Fresh from a weekend enjoying WA’s South West wineries as part of his first official visit to Perth, German Ambassador Klaus-Peter Klaiber was taken with the quality of WA wines and the methods employed by local wineries.

He said he believed that WA wine had already, in a relatively short time, surpassed the German wine industry in production techniques and quality.

“From what I have seen this week indicates to me that Australia is leading Germany, which has been going for many years without introducing any changes to the wine production,” Dr Klaiber said.

“An exchange of ideas in this field would be highly desirable to Germany.”

While WA’s wine industry may be leading Germany in adopting technology in vineyards and wineries, technology remains Germany’s strongest selling point.

Dr Klaiber said German know-how and expertise in manufacturing and technology would benefit WA’s resource sector.

In addition, in terms of the development of environmentally friendly industries, opportunities to adopt German technologies abound. Unlike Australia, Germany has made a concerted effort for years to develop environmentally-friendly industries such as renewable energy.

Yet, while German trade with Australia appears respectable – it is Australia’s ninth largest trading partner – WA’s trade with Germany is insignificant, sitting in 17th place.

Dr Klaiber has set his sights on making Germany WA’s 10th largest trading partner by the time he retires his post in four years time.

“I have learnt two things since I have been here in WA. One is that WA has a lot of potential. The economic figures are all very encouraging and optimism is something that exists strongly in WA,” he said.

“Second, WA has so far unfortunately been neglected by Germany.”

In addition, Dr Klaiber believes the deregulation of the Australian economy, compared to Germany, places it in a strong position to trade.

According to the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, in 2001-02 total merchandise trade between Australia and Germany was valued at $8.1 billion. Australian exports to Germany have more than doubled in the past ten years, although a significant trade deficit still exists with Australia’s exports to the European nation valued at just $1.3 billion.

The DFAT estimates that there are 330 German subsidiary companies and 470-branch offices of German companies in Australia.

Yet Dr Klaiber said the trade was very much Sydney and Melbourne-centric with Perth barely getting noticed by the Germans.

Bilateral trade between WA and Germany was little more than $610 million for 2000-01, according to the Department of Industry and Resources, with WA exports to Germany exceeding $230 million.

WA State Development Minister Clive Brown is expected to announce next month, when he visits Germany, that the European nation will be the host nation at this year’s Perth Royal Show as part of the “In unison” program that is organised by the West Australian German Association.

The Royal Show comes just one week after Sydney hosts the biannual German-Australian conference where more than 100 participants are expected to take part.

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