The Western Australian Government will appoint a South East Asia trade commissioner as part of its biggest-ever push for major new export and investment opportunities in Asia.
Premier Carmen Lawrence said the Government's Into Asia Strategy set new directions and priorities for Western Australia's trade in the burgeoning markets of Asia.
Dr Lawrence released the trade document in Singapore today after talks with Singapore's Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Trade and Industry, Mr B G Lee, and leading business and industry representatives.
The Premier said she had emphasised in the talks that the Government regarded the Asian region as having the highest priority of its overseas trading partners.
The new program re-directed resources across government to seeking new investment and trade with Asia.
The trade commissioner would co-ordinate the activities of the Government's Hong Kong, Kuala Lumpur, Singapore and Surabaya offices and ensure that they were making the best of opportunities for Western Australia companies.
The commissioner would make sure that priority markets in each country were identified.
Local Asians with a sound knowledge of local markets and businesses would be appointed as senior managers to the Hong Kong, Kuala Lumpur and Singapore offices.
Resources of the European office in London would be redistributed into Western Australia's presence in Asia. A smaller office with a sharp trade and investment focus would be kept in London.
The Government would also establish representation in China to augment AUSTRADE's servicing of Australian industry in the China market.
Under the new program the Government would also:
· establish an International Projects Group to co-ordinate, support and manage public and private sector groups in competing more effectively on overseas project opportunities;
· increase resources for the International Trade Centre to ensure a one-stop contact for organisations seeking trade development services;
· offer new and increased financial support for Western Australian companies trading in Asia and set up a new China export market support scheme to help companies in the increasingly important China market;
· undertake, in conjunction with the overseas offices, pre-feasibility studies to identify projects with partners in Asia.
The Premier said the major push into Asia would be complemented by the formation in Perth of the Into Asia Business Council, headed by prominent businessman Harold Clough.
Council membership would be drawn from leaders in the WA community with industry, marketing or research experience in Asian countries.
"Western Australia leads all Australian States in exports and Asia already is our largest market," said the Premier.
"However, the State has only scratched the surface."