Remarks of the Australian Ambassador-designate to Côte d'Ivoire
Trade Promotion Dinner, Abidjan, 5 June 2014
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Good evening ladies and gentlemen.
I would like to welcome all of you to tonight’s meeting. I’m pleased to see representatives from these different companies attending this event.
This meeting is a response to growing Australian interest in building stronger trade ties with Côte d’Ivoire.
Australia’s economy is among the fastest growing in the world and in a unique position to promote global trade and growth. There is an estimated 23.5 million people resident in Australia.
Over the years, our economy has benefitted from sound fundamentals including monetary stability, low public debt, and a vibrant employment market.
Australia’s Gross Domestic Product grew by 1.1 per cent in the first three months of 2014. This brought Australia’s annual growth rate to 3.5 per cent.
The 3.5 per cent annual growth rate meant that the Australian economy had expanded faster compared to the economies of the France, USA and UK on an annualised basis.
It is the best annual growth rate Australia has recorded in almost two years, since the June quarter 2012.
Our biggest driver of economic growth over the years remains mining.
We are keen to diversify our commercial interests globally and in Côte d’Ivoire beyond mining to other sectors – energy, education, agribusiness and infrastructure.
Economic diplomacy is today at the heart of the Government's foreign policy. Our interest is to build our prosperity as well as the prosperity of our friends.
Foreign aid, overseas development assistance, is a key part of economic diplomacy. We see development assistance sitting squarely within our national interest, aligned to our foreign policy imperatives. And so we've merged the statutory authority AusAID into DFAT to align our focus, our resources, and our policies.
Côte d’Ivoire remains eligible for Australia Awards, particularly in the areas of education and natural resource management. Côte d’Ivoire has received 19 Australia Awards to date in 2012 and 2013.
We also intend to put our diplomatic effort into boosting trade, growth, investment and business between us and all the countries we are accredited to.
We are committed to contribute to the economic reconstruction of the Ivorian economy.
Trade relations between Australia and Côte d’Ivoire continue to grow. Between 2010 and 2013, Australian exports to Côte d’Ivoire grew by 108 per cent and imports grew by 44.9 per cent.
Currently, Côte d’Ivoire is Australia’s 93rd export destination. Principal imports are cocoa and petroleum and principal exports are food and beverages, clothing and electrical products.
Australia is very open to global trade and investment. We have a highly competitive regulatory framework which promotes business formation and operational efficiency.
We also have a well-functioning legal system and effective anti-corruption measures both of which promotes transparency in doing business.
We welcome you all to do business with us. Australia does not have a trade office in Côte d’Ivoire but our Trade Commissioner Gordon Chakaodza (he will also be addressing you tonight) is based in Accra.
He is in touch with most of you already and visits Côte d’Ivoire from time to time. Please feel free to talk to him about how you can do business with Australia.
We look forward to working with you – the business community – in growing trade links between Australia and Côte d’Ivoire.
Thank you all and enjoy the rest of the evening.