Battle of the trade missions

Battle of the trade missions

Summary: Representatives from various states are all racing off overseas in the hopes that they can convince foreign companies to settle in their corner of Australia's soil or buy products from local companies.

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Representatives from various states are all racing off overseas in the hopes that they can convince foreign companies to settle in their corner of Australia's soil or buy products from local companies.

Victoria has its "Super Trade Mission to India" in late February 2012, where 100 "world-class" Victorian companies from various industries, including ICT, will take part in a jaunt to India in the hopes of strengthening ties with the country, capitalising Victoria as a place for the headquarters of Indian companies and convincing it to become a stronger importer of Victorian goods.

This followed a trade mission last year, led by the state's innovation minister, which Victoria believed would net 570 new jobs in Victoria.

Meanwhile, the Australian Financial Review ran a story this morning about NSW Deputy Premier and Trade Minister Andrew Stoner, who is heading off on a 10-day trade mission, which will focus on biotech and information technology, taking him to the US, Hong Kong and Japan.

It said that Queensland Treasurer Andrew Fraser has also been overseas this year to help the economy after the floods, while Western Australia Premier Colin Barnett travelled to China.

In 2010, even Tasmania sent a trade mission to China of ICT businesses to network.

Then there's the various trade missions carried out by organisations, such as the Australia-Israel Chamber of Commerce and the American Chamber of Commerce in Australia.

Trade missions are about establishing relationships and raising profiles. But I wonder whether having multiple states and organisations heading out overseas to make their pitch could be confusing the matter. After all, do foreign countries really want to know why it's so much better to settle in NSW than Victoria, or vice versa? Is having multiple trade missions a case of the whole being greater than the sum of its parts, or is it a zero-sum game, so that by having competing trade missions we're stealing each other's business, while still spending the large amounts of money to send people overseas?

Of course, there's a lot of countries out there, and the trade missions aren't going to the same place, which would suggest that the former suggestion is the right one. But I'm not sure. In times where budgets are going to be trimmed, it might make sense to look at the efficiency of some of the investments we make.

Has your business been helped by a trade mission? Have you gained a job because of a trade mission?

Topics: Government, Government AU

Suzanne Tindal

About Suzanne Tindal

Suzanne Tindal cut her teeth at ZDNet.com.au as the site's telecommunications reporter, a role that saw her break some of the biggest stories associated with the National Broadband Network process. She then turned her attention to all matters in government and corporate ICT circles. Now she's taking on the whole gamut as news editor for the site.

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  • This is a good but too polite article. It is most likely they will compete but it doesn't make much difference unless you are very serious, although you could find out if you measured the results, if there are results. Let's face the facts, if you really want business and you have a great location to put people you need to go and see them but it is all about what your agenda is based on a detailed diary, the easy measurement. That is, what you did before the trip, in the trip and afterwards. Of course you don't want to tell some copy cat competitor in say Australian City A what you are trying to achieve by getting people to come to Australian Village Z but after say 24 months you release all the info and the representative's report. With this, you can cut out much nonsense as for sure it is much to do with holidays abroad for those who have never lived abroad, paid taxes abroad or worked with such skills. Needless to say, our paid politicians should represent us. After all, it is difficult to get companies to even move across the corridor and the primary aim should be to locate well beyond Brisbane, Melbourne, Perth and Sydney with a very high speed technology infrastructure. As an example, if you want a highly qualified doctor to operate on the eyes of someone in remote Asia from a location in remote Australia, you can't play with Mickey Mouse 3G, 4G or twisted wire nor get them to sit in Sydney traffic for 2 hours per day. The logic is to make everything attractive to the go getters so we need more than 7 International airports to say 20 and they don't need to be large, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Spread the load.....
    peterbastable