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Trade and investment opportunities with South America.

Australia should strive for $2.5 billion worth of exports to South America by the year 2005, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Trade, Tim Fischer said today on the eve of launching a study of trade and investment relations between the two countries.

Mr Fischer said the new study, prepared by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, The Future of Australia's Trade and Investment Relations with South America, will help Australian exporters tap into the potential of South American markets, which are among the fastest growing in the world.

"This is the first comprehensive review by any Australian Government of the trends and emerging prospects in South America, and highlights our commitment to increasing trade and investment with South America," Mr Fischer said.

"The study highlights strong growth in Australia's export and investment performance in South America, although from a relatively modest base. Australian direct investment in the region exceeds $2 billion and has blossomed over the last five years, particularly in the mining sector.

"Our exports are showing pleasing growth, growing at twice the rate of our total exports over the past five years.

"Australia enjoys a co-operative relationship with South America, for example in the Cairns Group of agricultural trading nations, which has been a major feature of our relationship over the last decade and is critically important to both of us.

"We are eager to expand that relationship and increase trade and investment flows," Mr Fischer said.

A survey of business views included in the study reveals Australian businesses have been satisfied with their performance in the South American market to date, and cites a range of factors which are important for success.

The report also examines the recent trend towards preferential trading arrangements in South America and notes these could have some implications for Australian export and investment interests in South America.

Further information:

Justin Brown, Americas Branch, DFAT, 06 261 2711