Thursday, June 13, 2024

Australian trade agency leverages Expo 2020 presence

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The Australian Trade and Investment Commission (Austrade) will channel opportunities for trade between its business delegations and participating entities at Expo

In conversation with Mounir Sankary, Austrade’s trade commissioner for Expo 2020 Dubai and Priety Padam, head of marketing & communications for Middle East, Africa, Turkey and Pakistan.

Q. What is Austrade?

Priety Padam (PP): The Australian Trade and Investment Commission (Austrade) is Australia’s leading trade and investment agency, having expertise in connecting Australian businesses to the world. From trade and investment processes to protocols and regulation, Austrade helps Australian businesses, big or small, navigate complex overseas markets and make it easier for them to export globally.

With a stable and low-risk destination for investment, Austrade also assists international investors and businesses invest and operate in Australia.

Q. What value does an event like Expo 2020 hold for a trade agency?

PP: World expos have essentially been a platform to facilitate trade and investment opportunities among countries and businesses worldwide. While expos traditionally had host country residents as the main audience, Expo 2020 is unique to that effect since majority of the visitors are expected from overseas, making it truly a ‘global business Olympics’.

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Major event platforms such as Expo 2020 provide access to a wider business audience across various verticals, thereby assisting trade agencies to identify opportunities on behalf of their clients and facilitate business match making. Such events also help bolster government-to-government interactions with partner nations.

Q. What sort of interest in Expo are you seeing from Australian businesses back home?

Mounir Sankary (MS): Expo is a global enabler platform for Australian exporters to connect with 191 countries. Australia is expecting more than 300 companies to participate in the commercial exhibitions around Expo, under a hybrid model (virtual and in-person). Australian businesses are leveraging the participation of international delegations to promote Australian capabilities to key priority markets.

Q. What is Austrade’s approach towards Expo 2020?

MS: Austrade had focused on targeting the commercial exhibitions occurring around Expo 2020 Dubai to leverage B2B and B2G introductions. Exhibitions such as Gulfood, Arab Health, ADIPEC and Dubai Airshow are essential for Australian businesses to connect with international markets, promote capabilities, deliver export outcomes, and support Australia’s market diversification strategy.

Q. How did Covid-19 impact these plans?

MS: Similar to other countries, Australia has been impacted by Covid-19 restrictions. However, we anticipate that Expo and the commercial exhibitions’ hybrid offering will offer a useful platform for Australian businesses to participate. The planning around commercial exhibitions also meant that despite some of the Covid limitations, Australian companies will still connect with the relevant stakeholders by sector.

Q. What are some of the sectors that Australia is targeting through Expo? Why were these sectors selected?

PP: Austrade conducted extensive consultation with government, industry, and private sector stakeholders in Australia to deliver an extensive trade and investment program during expo across priority sectors – education, food and agribusiness, water, healthcare, infrastructure, mining and resources, space, and digital technology.

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Australia prioritises industry sectors that drive sustained long-term growth of Australian exports based on their export capability and capacity, and where demand exists overseas.

Q. Is there a targeted value of deals/number of agreements that Austrade is pursuing?

MS: Australian companies have already secured AUD170m (AED455m) worth of contracts for Expo-related projects in the UAE. Australia views Expo as the ‘business olympics’ so we are coordinating on business delegations with other countries to support Australia’s trade and investment priorities.

Q. What value does the UAE Projects of the 50 initiative hold for Austrade?

PP: The UAE is one of Australia’s most important and long-standing trade and investment partners in the Middle East and Africa region with annual trade links valued at AUD9.8bn per year. Australia also has a robust investment relationship with the UAE with Australia’s investment in the country approximately AUD4bn and foreign direct investment into Australia estimated at AUD12bn.

Australia’s participation at Expo highlights our commitment to expand the trade and investment relationship with the UAE by promoting Australia as a place to do business, visit and study.

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