Future looks bright in Latin America

1 December 2016

Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment The Hon Steven Ciobo MP

Having recently returned from the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation meeting in Peru, which was also attended by Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, I am delighted to present the Latin American edition of business envoy.

The Government has created new opportunities for Australian exporters and investors by concluding trade agreements with China, Japan and Korea and expanding the Singapore-Australia Free Trade Agreement. But we are focused on creating opportunities that allow Australian businesses to diversify their export markets.

Latin America promises much in this regard. There are now more than 280 Australian companies in Latin America.

Fresh off the back of a decade powered by soaring commodities prices and increased international investment, Latin America is at a crucial phase in its development. The region's leading economies have made significant strides in creating wealth and improving the business environment. The Pacific Alliance bloc of Chile, Mexico, Peru and Colombia – which together represent about 35 per cent of Latin American GDP – have already gone a long way in welcoming foreign investment, trade and policy convergence, signing numerous bilateral and multilateral trade agreements and establishing MILA, an integrated stock market platform. New governments in Argentina and Brazil are pursuing economic reforms.

The region is seeing history making and transformative events in several countries that provide differentiated opportunities for Australian businesses.

A number of Latin American countries are increasingly focused on investing in education creating real opportunities for one of our major export sectors. Indeed, education, including technical and vocational education, is an area where Australia's policy experience is being welcomed as Latin American countries continue to skill their workforces.

Recognising the potential to grow collaboration between our education sectors, I signed an MoU on Cooperation in Education with Peru's Minister of Education, Mr Jaime Saavedra, during my visit to Lima.

Mining and mining equipment, technology and services have been the primary driver of economic engagement in Latin America with the region having many world-class mineral and metal deposits that have attracted Australian mining companies.

The Turnbull Government is strengthening our relationship with Latin America to enable Australian business to capitalise on the emerging opportunities in this region.

In August, I visited Colombia and Chile to signal Australia's interest in developing stronger trade, investment and tourism links.

As a country with five major cities, straddling the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean, a population of over 48 million people, and a Government keen to attract trade and investment, Colombia has the potential to be a base for companies seeking to access the Latin American market.

When the peace process to end the long-running civil conflict is finalised, our governments will explore what more we can do to make it easier for our farmers, services suppliers and manufacturers to do business with each other.

For more than two decades, Chile has been the gateway for many Australian companies to South America – a development supported by the Australia-Chile Free Trade Agreement.

This month, the second Australia-Chile Economic Leadership Forum will take place in Melbourne.  The forum aims to foster new ideas for building our bilateral ties as well as ideas on how Australia and Chile can act as launching pads for each other's companies to access our respective regions.

The Turnbull Coalition Government is transitioning our economy following the mining boom to one built on innovation, diversification and engagement with international markets.  Renewing and expanding our ties with Latin American countries is part of this plan. I would encourage Australian business to explore the opportunities emerging in this dynamic region to diversify markets for your exports.

Last Updated: 5 December 2016
Steven Ciobo
Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment, The Hon Steven Ciobo MP