The Hon. Mark Vaile, MP
The Hon. Mark Vaile, MP
FORMER MINISTER FOR TRADE

Speech

Parliament House, Canberra, 25 March 2003
Minister for Trade & Deputy Leader of the National Party The Hon Mark Vaile MP to launch

Doing Business in Spain: an introductory guide to the market

Thank you Ambassador Bara├▒ano [pron. Ho-say Ra-mon Ba-ra-nya-no]

Members of the Spanish Chamber of Commerce in Australia

Ladies and gentlemen.

I am pleased to be here to launch the Department's new publication, Doing Business in Spain.

Spanish Market

The Spanish economy has benefited considerably from Spain's accession to the European Union - some 17 years ago.

We have witnessed Spain's remarkable transformation from a primarily agrarian economy, to a dynamic, modern industrialised economy that today is the fifth largest in the European Union, and the eighth largest in the OECD.

Indeed, new figures show that the Spanish economy, with a GDP of around US$640 billion, is more than 60 per cent larger than the Australian economy.

And over the past five years, the Spanish economy has experienced one of the strongest rates of GDP growth in the European Union, averaging around four per cent per annum.

Spain's economy has slowed somewhat in 2002 (1.9%), but even so, GDP growth still exceeds those of large European economies such as France, Germany and the United Kingdom.

Like Australia, Spain has a stable government committed to economic reform - by promoting competition, better managing public finances, de-regulating the labour market, and privatising state-owned enterprises.

Like Australia, Spain is becoming more affluent and its tastes increasingly more sophisticated.

Spain is also part of the Eurozone, which serves to reduce business risks, especially through greater currency stability and reduced business cycle volatility.

All these factors present a sound environment in which Australian companies and entrepreneurs can do business.

Bilateral Relations

Australia and Spain enjoy close relations, built on the people-to-people ties resulting from post-war migration to Australia, and through trade, cultural and scientific contacts, and tourism.

As the Minister for Trade, I am particularly pleased that our exports to Spain have increased by 27 per cent over the past five years.

Last year, two-way merchandise trade between Australia and Spain reached $1.6 billion, and Spain was our 28th largest trading partner.

Coal exports continued to be our principal export, worth more than $263 million in 2002.

In addition to traditional commodities, however, our exports now include elaborately transformed manufactures like lightweight fast ferries, machinery and integrated circuits, and educational services.

Ladies and gentlemen

There is much more we can, and should, be doing with Spain.

There is much potential to further expand trade and investment between our two countries.

- Aggregate levels of trade and investment between Australia and Spain are considerably lower than more familiar European markets such as the United Kingdom, Germany, France and Italy.

- And recent reforms in Spain have created a welcoming environment for foreign investment and opened up new and exciting opportunities in Spain for Australian companies.

I am encouraged by the growing number of small to medium-sized Australian companies that are actively engaged in Spanish niche markets.

- Sectors that show promise include communications, processed food, tourism, education and environmental services.

- Recent export successes have included items as diverse as live crayfish, outdoor furniture, sophisticated internet technology and of course Australian wine.

A good example is the recent success of NSW wine exporter, IMEXA, in shipping product to Spain, the world's third largest wine producer.

- This is pleasing evidence of the growing commercial relationship between Australia and Spain

Conclusion

Ladies and gentlemen

Spain's population is twice that of Australia.

Spain's growth and reform has been associated with a healthy appetite for imports.

There is a wide range of sectors in Spain that have unsatisfied demand for goods and services that Australia can supply.

And as a member of the Eurozone, Spain holds enormous potential for Australian business looking for a base for commercial operations to access European markets.

I encourage Australian business to explore the Spanish market.

The Australian Government stands ready to assist Australian businesses to take advantage of the opportunities the Spanish market offers.

There is much we can do together to build the relationship. Doing Business in Spain is a step in this direction.

I hope the Australian business community will find the report valuable - and that it will encourage them to consider including Spain in their future business plans.

Finally, I look forward to the future expansion of the relationship between Australia and Spain.


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