A major new trade opportunity for Western Australia was realised this week with the commencement of a special counter-trade scheme with Vladivostock in Far Eastern Russia.
Agriculture Minister Ernie Bridge said a A$2.2 million consignment of seafood - the first of many being planned - had left Russia for sale on the world market, with the proceeds to be used to purchase WA produce.
Under the counter-trade scheme, the Singapore Government's trading arm, Intraco, buys the Russian produce and then uses the purchase funds to pay WA suppliers for their produce which is then sent on to Russia.
The innovative State scheme was set in place by Mr Bridge in consultation with senior Russian officials, following his visit to Vladivostock last year.
A senior Russian trade delegation followed up by spending several weeks in WA to finalise the agreement, and a Western Australian trade office focussing on agriculture was then established in Vladivostock.
Mr Bridge today accompanied senior Russian officials on a tour of the Peters Icecream factory at Balcatta to highlight the type of produce which would be available to Russia under the new agreement.
The Russian delegation included Mr Igor Tchernianski, the first vice governor of the Primorsky Territory, Mr Leonid Demidov, manager of trading and shipping company Morsea Moscow, and Mr Konstantin Nezhevoy, the president of the Dalinterbroker trading company.
"The Russian market, and in particular the Primorsky region which we are targeting, is enormous," Mr Bridge said today.
"The key obstacle we had to overcome was the lack of hard currency available to pay for our produce, and this has been done by arranging to trade through Intraco.
"While counter-trade is not uncommon on the world market, this particular agreement is unique in that it has been achieved on a State basis with Western Australia working directly with the Russians to establish specific agricultural trade links."
Mr Bridge said Russian officials had prepared a main export product list for counter-trade combining their 1993 food stuff requirements.
Agricultural producers and processors in WA were being approached for expressions of interest to maximise the supply of products from WA.
Key requirements included dairy produce, meat, fresh, canned and frozen fruit and vegetables, grain, pasta, oils, wool and wool products, confectionary, juices, wine, beer, stock feed, and skins and hides.