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Friday, 28 November 1986
Page: 4057

(Question No. 4003)

Mr Braithwaite asked the Minister for Trade, upon notice, on 20 May 1986:

(1) What Trade Commission posts have (a) opened, (b) closed down since March 1983.

(2) What plans are there to (a) establish new Trade Commission offices and (b) separate existing Trade Commission offices from Embassies.

(3) What will it cost to (a) establish these new posts and (b) separate existing Trade Commission offices from Embassies.

Mr Dawkins —The answer to the honourable member's question is as follows:

(1) During the period between March 1983 and the establishment of the Australian Trade Commission in January 1986, a Post in Shanghai has been opened and the Johannesburg Post closed.

(2) (a and b) Pursuant to the powers vested in the Australian Trade Commission under its Act and in the exercise of its commercial judgment, the Australian Trade Commission seeks to focus its resources in geographical regions with the greatest market potential for Australian exporters. In that context, Austrade is currently reviewing the disposition of its overseas resources with a view to achieving their most effective allocation.

As publically announced recently, Austrade has concluded a review of its operations in the Middle East and Western Europe. Arising from that review was a decision to open a new Trade Commissioner Post in Dubai and expand the scale of its Post to Riyadh.

Australia-based staff from the former Posts at Kuwait, Abu Dhabi and Bahrain are being redeployed to new Posts and other regions where there is a greater potential to increase exports of manufactures and services.

In the future, Austrade's operations in the Arabian Gulf region will be centred upon Riyadh but with local support being provided by the existing Post at Jeddah and the newly opened Post at Dubai. The three Posts will be linked by modern data processing equipment to ensure that Australian exporters are provided with an efficient service that is of a scale compatible with the current market prospects in the area.

Austrade will be appointing a Trade Commissioner for the Eastern Mediterranean who will service Israel, Turkey, Greece and Cyprus. Competent marketing staff will, where necessary, be engaged locally to work to that Trade Commissioner; current activities of locally engaged staff in Tel Aviv and Athens will be maintained. In consequence, the former Trade Commissioner in Tel Aviv has not been replaced.

In Western Europe, Austrade's Posts at London and Paris will be strengthened and the Bonn Post transferred to Frankfurt. Frankfurt and Paris will have a greater area of responsibility than previously and along with London will be linked by data processing equipment to Posts such as Stockholm, The Hague, Brussels and Madrid which, it is intended, will in due course be managed by locally engaged marketing experts rather than Australia-based Trade Commissioners. The nature of Austrade's representation in Italy is under consideration with Austrade.

These changes will result in a strengthening of market research and a better operational focus within both the Middle East and Western Europe.

A similar review is currently being made of Austrade's resources in the Americas. I anticipate that the Managing Director of Austrade will shortly announce the results of that review.

(3) (a and b) The Commission is satisfied that the changes outlined above represent a more cost effective deployment of resources than previously existed and comply with its legislative responsibility to provide its services as efficiently and economically as possible.