Looking further afield for trade opportunities

LOCATIONS in Asia, the Middle East and Central Europe are expected to be the breeding ground for new emerging markets for WA’s products, services and investments.

The Department of Foreign Affairs has produced a number of books since 2000 focusing on trade opportunities in the Middle East, India, Asia and Central Europe.

The State Government also has promoted the emerging markets to Western Australian exporters, with State Development Minister Clive Brown leading a trade mission to India last year, while Premier Geoff Gallop led a contingent of 91 WA business people to the Middle East.

And the Department of Industry and Resources has put together a team to work on developing emerging markets. Its focus includes, but is not restricted to, China, Vietnam, Central Europe and countries in the Gulf Cooperation Council.

The department believes that WA businesses need to maximise their share of new and existing markets, build on existing achievements in the Middle East, pay increasing attention to North Asia and target additional markets including Ger-many and Central Europe.

The Chamber of Commerce and Industry of WA is working closely on developing new markets for local businesses, particularly in the United Arab Emirates, which now has the benefit of a daily air service from Perth.

CCIWA Trade Services manager Keith Seed said it was wrong to think of emerging markets as basic markets. The reality is quite the opposite, in fact.

As part of the trade mission to the UAE last year Mr Seed found a very sophisticated and competitive marketplace.

“We are going to have to fight for the business. They are not short of anything and they are not waiting for us,” Mr Seed said.

Yet, he believes the emerging markets still offer huge potential for local firms because of the wealth and disposable income many of the populations in the Middle East have.

“Everyone that is into exporting should keep an eye on the emerging markets and take advantage of the opportunities,” Mr Seed said.

The emerging markets are also being viewed as an important way to reach the Federal Government’s goal of increased exporter numbers.

The DoIR and Austrade have recently offered a new export-program – TradeStart, which was previously ad-ministered under a different name by the CCIWA.

The TradeStart program offers free services including advice and information about getting into exporting, export coaching and assistance.

Yet figures supplied by the DoIR suggest that, while much effort has been devoted to emerging markets, significantly more needs to be achieved in order to increase the relevance of the emerging markets in relation to total export trade.

WA trade with India represented just 1 per cent of total trade, with Vietnam less than one half of 1 per cent. Central Europe accounts for only 0.1 per cent and the Gulf States just 3.1 per cent of WA’s export trade.

The export ranking of many of the emerging markets has also remained stable for several of the countries. In the Middle East, the UAE stands out, increasing its ranking from the 16th largest trading destination for WA in 1999-2000 to 10th position in 2001-02.

p Next week: WA Business News takes a closer look at the companies making inroads into the emerging markets.

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