The diverse countries of the Middle East, North Africa and Turkey (MENAT) remain important economic partners for Victoria. MENAT is home to a young and rapidly-growing population, and economic growth in the region is predicted to accelerate in 2018 and 2019. In the 2017-2018 financial year, Victorian merchandise exports to the region were worth AU$1.77 billion.
Victoria’s capabilities are well-matched to the needs of the MENAT region where governments are implementing extensive plans for economic diversification and sustainable development. National programs including UAE Vision 2021, Saudi Vision 2030, Qatar National Vision 2030 and New Kuwait 2035, as well as major events such as Expo 2020 Dubai, present opportunities for Victoria in fields such as food security and agriculture, mining, professional services, fintech, education, healthcare, mobility and eCommerce.
Opportunities for Victorians looking to do business with MENAT
Food & fibre
In the 2017-2018 financial year, Victorian food exports to the MENAT region were worth over AU$1 billion.
Land-use restrictions, climate conditions and geopolitical factors make food security a top priority for governments across the MENAT region. This is particularly true of countries in the Gulf, which continue to import up to 90 per cent of their food requirements.
With a population projected to exceed 500 million by 2020, the region’s demand for high-quality food and beverage products is predicted to grow, providing opportunities for Victoria's agribusiness sector, particularly the dairy, meat, prepared and health food industries.
Want to know more?
Listen to our podcast
Tune in to our special podcast hosted by Helen Brown of Bisnis Asia for some expert advice on exporting food to the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC).
Read our report
Global Victoria's Regional Director of Trade & Investment to the ME, Africa, Turkey, Russia and CIS countries, Kassem Younes talks about the opportunities for food exporters in the Middle East and provides some great tips for companies looking to engage with the region.
Report: leveraging food export opportunities in the UAE by Kassem Younes
Tourism & market accessibility
Seven flights arrive at Melbourne International Airport every day from countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) providing a significant potential customer base for the Victorian tourism and hospitality sectors.
The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is a major re-export centre and daily, direct flights between Melbourne and the UAE facilitate air cargo shipments with final destinations across Africa, Asia and Europe.
International education & Vocational Education Training
The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), Iran and Turkey are committed to providing quality education for their nationals and are actively working to develop a local skills base to support economic diversification and transitions to knowledge-based economies.
As Australia's leaders in transnational delivery, Victorian Higher Education and Vocational Education and Training (VET) providers have opportunities to expand their business and be part of the region’s investment in its human capital.
In March 2018, Australia confirmed its participation in Expo 2020,which will run from October 2020 to April 2021 in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. The event, themed ‘Connecting Minds, Creating the Future’, is expected to attract 25 million visitors from over 180 countries. With 70 per cent of visitors coming from outside the UAE, Expo 2020 provides Victorian companies the opportunity to engage with markets within and outside of the MENAT region.
The Australia Pavilion will be located in the Mobility district of the Expo and will showcase Australia’s culture, innovation and capabilities. Opportunities to supply the Australian Government for the Expo 2020 will be advertised via AusTender, while opportunities to supply goods and services to the Expo are currently advertised on the Expo 2020 e-Sourcing Portal.
Expo 2020: Upcoming Tenders
The focus for Expo 2020 procurement is shifting to operations and visitor experience-related services. Within the next six to twelve months, Expo 2020 will procure a range of products and services related to content and programming, event operations, hospitality, food retail, security, waste management, ICT, protocol services, marketing and public relations, and is actively seeking the participation of non-Emirati companies and SMEs in the provision of these products and services. Contracts worth a total of almost AU$4 billion have been awarded thus far, and Australian companies have been successful in winning expo-related contracts in architecture, construction and logistics.
Victorian companies with experience in the delivery of major events are well placed to provide services to Expo 2020 and are encouraged to register on the Expo 2020 e-sourcing portal.
Medtech, pharma & healthcare
The healthcare market in the region is expected to be worth US$144 billion by 2020, with strong demand in both primary and preventative health due to an increase in the incidence of lifestyle-related diseases.
Victoria's world-class healthcare, medical, pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries are strongly positioned to meet the region's growing demand for a high standard of medical research services.
Governments across the MENAT region are pursuing initiatives to improve the management of water resources and reduce wastage. These include programs aimed at achieving behavioural change around water usage as well as the improvement of water management infrastructure, research and development initiatives and the deployment of new technologies.
Opportunities exist for Victorian businesses to export their knowledge, expertise and technology solutions in the agricultural and water sectors.
Research & innovation
Israeli companies, universities and research institutions specialising in biomedicine and biotechnology, environmental management, cybersecurity, fintech, and agricultural technologies provide collaborative research and development opportunities for Victorian institutions.
Tel Aviv is Israel's research and innovation hub and has been named the world's best startup centre outside of the United States. The city was also chosen by Austrade as the location for one of its five Landing Pads providing Australian tech startups with a collaborative workspace and opportunities to bring their ideas to an international market.
- Victoria's total merchandise trade with the Middle East, Northern Africa (MENA), Turkey and Iran was A$3.27 billion in 2016-17.1
- Victoria's total food exports to MENA, Turkey and Iran in 2016-17 totalled A$934 million.2
- Victoria was the first Australian state to open a trade office in the region, establishing its Dubai office in 1997.
- The GCC comprises Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE with a collective GDP of US$1.52 trillion in 2017.3
- The World Bank projects the region's food market to be worth US$1 trillion by 2030.
- A third of the world's population lives within a four-hour flight of the Gulf and half of the world's population are within an eight-hour flight.4
- 57 per cent of people in the region are under 30 years of age.5
- DFAT STARS Database, based on ABS Cat No 5368.0, June 2017 data
- DFAT STARS Database, based on ABS Cat No 5368.0, June 2017 data
- International Monetary Fund, World Economic Outlook Database, January 2018, GDP current prices
- Foreign Affairs, The Gulf Also Rises, Oct 2016
- UN Population Division, World Population Prospects: The 2015 Revision, custom data acquired via website
Discover how your business can export to MENAT
- The State Government of Victoria recognises the importance of engagement with the region and has had a well-established presence in the Gulf since 1997 when the Victorian Government Trade and Investment (VGTI) office opened in Dubai. Our VGTI offices provide tailored market intelligence, insights, and guidance for your export business, and can connect you with overseas buyers and industry partners from the region.
- Victorian businesses seeking in-country market assistance for Israel should contact the VGTI in London.
- Austrade Market Profiles provide further detail and facts on the Middle East, Turkey and Iran markets.
- The Victorian Government provides support through a range of grants, vouchers and assistance programs.
- The International Chamber House (ICH) in Melbourne's city centre is a business networking hub for international bilateral chambers and business associations. It provides members access to meeting rooms with video-conferencing, flexible workspaces and a function space for international business development events.
- Opportunities exist for Victorian businesses to bid for contracts across a wide range of sectors and markets with the World Bank and United Nations. Providing financial support to low and middle-income countries for projects focused on development and change, World Bank's contract award decisions are based on criteria other than lowest price, such as quality and sustainability
- Visit our regional insights page and read current updates from our Regional Specialists