The State Liberals are calling on the Weatherill Government to follow its lead and establish a trade office in Japan ahead of the State Government’s trade mission to North East Asia beginning today.

If elected in March 2018, the State Liberals have committed $12.8 million in funding to open four new trade offices in the key trade markets of Japan, Malaysia, Dubai and the United States.

“Now is the time to capitalise on the massive trade opportunities between South Australia and Japan as Australia’s Economic Partnership Agreement with Japan continues to open up further opportunities for our exporters,” said Shadow Minister for Trade and Investment Tim Whetstone.

“With a population of 127 million people and an economy climbing towards $5 trillion Japan has enormous trade potential and an appetite for premium South Australian exports. 

“The Japanese market has a real hunger for many South Australian products and services, including fresh produce, from our premium fruit and vegetables to our quality wine and beverages.

“When the Labor Government came to power South Australia had 7.4 per cent share of the nation’s merchandise exports, now we have under 4 per cent. 

“The State Liberals don’t accept that South Australian exports should continue to underperform on the national stage. 

“If South Australia is to realise its trade potential, grow exports and create more job opportunities a first step is establishing trade offices in key markets, including Japan.”

Mr Whetstone criticised the Weatherill Government for failing to deliver on its promise to establish trade representation in Vietnam.

The Weatherill Government’s 2017 Annual Investment and Trade Statement stated “further offices in the Philippines and Vietnam are planned for 2017”. 

However, the Minister for Trade recently confirmed there is no current funding allocation for South Australian trade offices or representation in Vietnam.

“There is no budget yet for the Philippines or Vietnam, but we are giving it some thought.” 

(Estimates Hansard, 1 August 2017)

“The Weatherill Government continues to overlook permanent on-the-ground presence in some of South Australia’s key exporting countries,” said Mr Whetstone. 

“It’s disappointing the Weatherill Government hasn’t even budgeted for overseas representation in Vietnam despite saying it was a priority this year.”