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Bright future for Australian ICT exports to Middle East.

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Bright future for Australian ICT exports to Middle East The Minister for Communications, Information Technology and the Arts, Senator Richard Alston, visited the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Turkey during May to promote the depth of Australian capability in the information and communications technology (ICT) sector.

Middle East markets combined are second only to China in new computer purchases, and the region is one of the world's fastest growing centres of e-commerce. However, regional economies have limited local expertise and this generates considerable potential opportunities for Australian companies. As improvements are made to the local telecommunications infrastructure demand for a greater range of business and consumer services is increasing.

During his visit, Senator Alston called upon high-level government officials and met with business chambers and other key industry players in each country.

Senator Alston said that all four countries visited have seen strong growth in their ICT industries and infrastructure.

'Egypt is keen to draw upon Australia's experience in deregulating the telecommunications sector. In the case of Saudi Arabia, they want to reduce their reliance on traditional sources in Europe and the USA, and see Australia as a possible lower-cost alternative source of ICT expertise,' Senator Alston said.

'The visit was successful in raising the profile of the Australian ICT sector and improved local awareness of Australia as a technologically advanced country, with positive coverage in the local media.'

An Austrade-organised business delegation accompanied Senator Alston to explore specific opportunities and to take advantage of the Minister's presence.

As a result of the visit, Intercard Wireless is currently negotiating contracts and partnerships in a number of markets in the Midde East, including the UAE, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Egypt.

Another delegate, Dr Andrew Parkes, General Manager E-Business with the Health Insurance Commission, said he also sees great potential for new business in the Middle East.

'In the UAE and Egypt for example, governments need assistance in the areas of health policy, effective audit systems and secure on-line information systems - areas where the Health Insurance Commission has proven expertise,' Dr Parkes said.

According to Roger Bayliss, Austrade's Executive General Manager, Middle East Indian Ocean Region, the level of familiarity with the ICT industry in the four countries visited caught a number of the Australian companies by surprise, with most of them quickly progressing beyond selling their own business concept, to discussing specific business deals.

Following the success of this visit Senator Alston will be addressing two ICT industry forums this week, held by the Australian Information Industry Association, in Sydney (21 June) and Melbourne (22 June). Roger Bayliss will speak about Austrade's work in promoting ICT opportunities in the Middle East while Australian companies already doing business in the region, such as CEA Technologies, Hardcat Pty Ltd. and GV Jones & Associates, will also speak about their experiences.

Further information on the above forums can be obtained from: Fleur Bayley AIIA Export manager Tel: 02 9518 1909 E mail: PO Box 221 Westgate NSW 2048

Media Contact: Sasha Grebe, Minister's Office, 02 6277 7480 or 0409 445 246 Website:

18 June 2001

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