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Expanding trade horizons

A host of WA companies is involved, or looking to become involved, in newly emerging overseas markets, as Gary Kleyn reports.

THIRTY WA food and beverage companies took part in the recent international food expo in the United Arab Emirates, making up 50 per cent of the Australian contingent.

Golden Egg Farms, Margaret River Beverages and Harvey Fresh were just three of the WA firms that visited the Middle East to show their wares, forming part of a growing band of local businesses looking to exploit emerging markets.

Both the Federal and State governments have been opening up new ground in India, the Middle East, South America and Central Europe. In their wake is a growing group of local enterprises that are as excited as the governments by the potential of the regions.

State Development Minister Clive Brown led a delegation of WA businessmen to India last year. This was followed last month by a trade mission to India by Federal Trade Minister Mark Vaile.

Mr Brown’s visit coincided with a multi-million dollar deal by JV Global Pty Limited with the multi-billion dollar Indian construction and engineering firm Larsen and Toubro Limited. Under the agreement, JV Global is to establish a production facility in Chennai to manufacture steel doors and window frames.

JV Global managing director Terry Opie said it was looking to produce 100,000 steel door and window frames and reach capacity of 280,000 frames a year within three years. The production equipment is manufactured in WA by Colrol, in association with JV Global.

And there have been similar successes in the Middle East for WA firms directly involved in ser-vicing the construction industry.

Perth furniture company Antry has been receiving strong enquires, as has Creative Ceramics.

Immigration Solutions, meanwhile, has entered into a joint venture with WA firm Conbata Pty Ltd to provide immigration and education services, and Barnetts Architectural Hardware has developed a new market.

Barnetts director James Caddis said the firm, which had been supplying hardware such as locks, hinges, door closures and door seals for the past 60 years, had moved into the overseas market after requests from WA architects based in the region.

To facilitate and cater for the expected growth in the Middle East, in particular in Dubai, Mr Caddis has set up a joint venture with a German firm, which already has a presence in the capital of the United Arab Emirates.

Such is the enormity of the construction industry in Dubai that even a relatively small order could double the size of the hardware company overnight.

However, Mr Caddis said any prospects remained uncertain because of the destabilising effect of the possible war with Iraq.

“I understand, from speaking to architects over there, that a lot of the work has just been put on hold to wait and see what George Bush is going to do,” Mr Caddis said.

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