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Western Australia opens trade office in S’pore

May 5th, 2012 · No Comments

WESTERN Australia is concluding its trade and investment office in Malaysia while opening a new Singapore office as part of a major effort to re-orientate the state’s economy towards Asia.

The new office, situated at Suntec City, was formally opened by visiting Western Australian premier Colin Barnett yesterday.

The facility – the 10th such overseas office that the Western Australian government has opened to date – will be headed by the state’s former tourism commission chairman and chief executive John Osborn.

The office in Kuala Lumpur, which at present takes care of Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei, will stay open until late June as it transfers its functions over to Singapore.

‘We see the Singapore office as being our principal office for the South-east Asian region. In that sense, it would be on an equal basis with the United Kingdom, Japan and China offices,’ said Mr Barnett, 61, at a luncheon that he hosted at the Conrad Centennial Singapore Hotel.

Among the guests in attendance were former Singapore foreign minister George Yeo and Australia’s High Commissioner to Singapore Doug Chester.

Western Australia is Australia’s largest state although its 2.3 million residents comprises just a tenth of the whole country’s population. The Western Australian economy is mostly driven by the extraction and processing of a varied range of mineral and petroleum commodities.

However while the state has made strong ties with Asian powerhouses such as Japan, China and India in the mining and petroleum sectors, Mr Barnett said it should engage with South-east Asia and the wider Asian region on a level beyond commodities.

Singapore, with its perfect location and advantages as a hub for finance, banking and commerce, has that ‘natural complementarity’ with Western Australia that both sides could profit from.

‘We cannot, as a state have the tentacles throughout Asia that a trading nation like Singapore has already established, with the potential to do so much more,’ said Mr Barnett. ‘The opening of the Singapore office is what I hope will be the start of a special relationship between Western Australia and Singapore.’

Annual trade between Western Australia and Singapore stands at over A$5 billion (S$6.6 billion).     

Western Australia is home to 30 per cent of Singapore-born Australian residents and is also a popular destination for Singaporean students pursuing higher education, with the state’s capital city Perth being the most popular.

 This is Mr Barnett’s first visit to Singapore property since October 2010. His three-day trip – which ends on Saturday – also saw him meet separately with Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and Trade and Industry Minister Lim Hng Kiang yesterday.

Mr Lee last met with Mr Barnett five months ago at the biennial Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Perth.

 

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