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Opportunities in LatAm - Executive Officer, AEMEA & Pacific, Austrade



Remarks by Ambassador Clemencia Forero Ucrós, Dean of the Latin America Group of Ambassadors - Canberra Networking Day

This year’s event takes place in a background of moderate but sustained growth in the world economy and of an improvement in the prices of raw materials exported by Latin America, which endorse the projection of a positive change in growth dynamics in the region for the current year, indicating a slow economic expansion after two years of regional GDP contraction. According to the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean -ECLAC-, for 2017, the average growth rate in the region is expected to increase by 1.1%. Besides this modest, but nevertheless significant, expected growth, it is also noticeable that the region’s participation in global value chains has increased, and the share of Latin America in global foreign direct investment flows has risen this year, after a slowdown in 2015 and 2016. This encouraging context in the perspective of growth in the region and the rising flows of foreign investment are the good economic news we wish to highlight here today.
The other good news we wish to remark is that the relations between Latin America and Australia are being enhanced by an increased political will from both sides. The Latin American countries have expanded their presence in Australia and particularly, the Central American region has undertaken a huge effort to be present in Canberra, through permanent diplomatic missions. We are now 14 countries and in this context, we wish to highlight and to welcome the participation of Jairo Hernández, the Ambassador of Costa Rica, in this meeting for the first time.
For all of us, as representatives of our countries in Australia, I would like to remark that one of the most positive components of our task here in Australia is the easy and welcoming access to DFAT. It is indeed a privilege to be able to meet and to engage into productive discussions with the DFAT team. Under the leadership of Ms Bishop, we had the opportunity of conveying a submission for the drafting of the Australian Foreign Affairs White Paper, and in that context, we were able to highlight our shared objectives in the relationship with Australia, covering aspects such as in-person diplomacy, trade, investment and tourism, education, coordination in international fora, among others. We expect to see the results soon, so we can collaborate further in areas of common interest.

Certainly, the relationship between Australia and Latin America is living a historic moment that has encouraged the deepening of our agenda.
On the Australian side, the relationship is backed and sponsored by institutions, Councils and Advisory bodies supported by the Australian government and in charge of several fields of common activities.
We wish to highlight the relevance of our host organization, ALABC, that every year carefully prepares this Networking Meeting in Canberra, as well as events in the main cities in Australia. This year and in tune with the rise of foreign investment in the region, ALABC has introduced a new field of interaction through the Latin American Infrastructure Forum, celebrated in Melbourne last May, which was a window of opportunity to showcase the infrastructure projects being developed or programmed across the Latin American region, with High Level participants from Peru, Mexico, Chile, Uruguay and Argentina. Relevant institutions, such as the Interamerican Bank, the Development Bank of Latin America -CAF and the G20 Infrastructure Hub intervened to showcase the infrastructure projects that are planned by several countries in Latin America and presented strategies for potential Australian sponsors, investors and construction sector players. Thank you, Jose, for your dedication, commitment and leadership to facilitate, through ALABC, investment in the Latin American countries, and for exploring new windows of opportunity.
This event in Melbourne, the first of its kind, was supported by strategic partners such as the Council on Australia-Latin American Relations -COALAR, which has been another strong institutional pillar with a well-stablished tradition in the promotion and financing of new initiatives through grants, in areas of priority such as scientific research, culture, food security, tropical medicine, ecotourism, agriculture, sustainable mining, among others.

We also wish to highlight that we have worked hand in hand with Austrade and regional authorities and corporations to enhance our links in terms of trade, investment, tourism and education.
This is indeed a remarkable moment in the expansion of our mutual relations. Foreign Minister Bishop has given a special emphasis to the relations with Latin America and recently, by inaugurating the Embassy in Colombia, she has expanded the permanent diplomatic presence of Australia to six Missions.
This is a significant step, but we respectfully think that much more could be done. Latin America is diverse, and each country has specificities that require individualized diplomatic attention. So, we hope that in the future we will see more Missions from Australia being opened.

Even in this world of technology and fast communications, the meetings of Leaders, Ministers and High Officials offer an added value. In-person diplomacy is a very useful tool, that allows high-level officials of Australia to become directly acquainted with our reality and our potential. So, I wish to highlight the visit paid last year by the Governor-General Sir Peter Cosgrove to Mexico, Brazil, Argentina, Chile and Uruguay on July 2016, the first in history by a Governor-General. Prime Minister Turnbull visited Peru on the occasion of the APEC Meeting on November 2016. Foreign Minister Bishop has travelled to the region on several occasions: she attended the Cop21 in Lima in December 2014, and in 2015, she visited Chile, Peru and Brazil and attended the Paracas Summit of the Pacific Alliance. In her recent trip to Latin America she visited Argentina, Panama, Cuba and Grenade, and in Colombia, she inaugurated the Embassy and was received by President Santos, Foreign Minister Holguin and Trade Minister Lacouture. Also, Minister Ciobo has paid several visits to the region, last year to Chile, and Colombia in August and this year, he attended the Pacific Alliance Summit in Cali, Colombia last June. Also, it is worth noting that the President of the Australian Senate, the Hon. Stephen Parry, visited Uruguay, Chile and Argentina.

At the same time, the dynamic of High Level Visits on behalf of the Latin American countries has been very active: The Vice-president of Argentina, Gabriela Michetti, accompanied by five Secretaries of State visited Australia in March, and the Minister of Foreign Trade and Tourism of Peru, Eduardo Ferreyros, paid a visit last May.
Delegations from our countries have been very active in the field of mining with High-Level officials from Argentina, Venezuela and Peru paying visits to Australia and attending the Latin America Downunder Conference in Perth.
We are very encouraged by the fact that there are several bilateral Parliamentary Networks for the 45th Parliament: Argentina, Brazil, and Cuba in the case of Latin America. We would like to highlight that the Parliament of Uruguay, sent a mission to Australia, last August, led by the President of the House of Representatives.
The Latin American Group is therefore very interested in promoting more Parliamentary Networks, which will certainly enhance mutual knowledge and fruitful collaboration between our legislative bodies.

Trade, investment and Tourism are among our priorities. In terms of trade, there are significant steps: Australia is one of the first countries to launch FTA negotiations with the Pacific Alliance, after the decision taken in Cali, Colombia, to negotiate as a bloc, with the aim of seeking an agreement with high quality standards in commercial matters, in order to open new markets and attract investment.
It is worth noting that the Pacific Alliance includes 52 observers, 12 from Latin America, and that the bloc is not a fortress: it is open to observer countries that wish to become part of the mechanism. To attain this goal, they should be invited by a Party or manifest their will and sign a road map to adhere to the institutions of the bloc and comply with its commitments.
Besides, I would like to mention that Australia and Peru have initiated negotiations for a bilateral Free Trade Agreement.

Also, improved air connectivity is being enhanced with the signature of Air Services Agreements and Memorandums of Understanding with several countries, allowing for new routes and shared-codes, thus, facilitating the flow of businessmen, students and tourists.
The increase of these flows should be a reciprocal goal, of course, considering the security interests of the Parties.
On the last 5th of September, DFAT delivered a very important briefing to the Diplomatic Corps regarding the Visa Simplification System, which, according to the information provided, intends to reduce the number of the types of visas, and to stablish a delineation system between temporary entry and long-term or permanent residence, among others. We hope this process will facilitate the reciprocal flow of visitors between Australia and Latin-America.
We wish to acknowledge that Australia has an online process and label-free electronic visas that constitutes an important factor in the visa application procedure.
In order that Australia can attract more visitors from Latin America, we respectfully note that the processing time is still rather long, the duration of the visa is relatively short, and the associated costs become meaningful, for example if a family group travels together for tourism purposes.
A simple visa system, quick and easy to understand will facilitate the entry of tourists and business men from our region.
On the other hand, a significant number of countries from Latin-America have Visitor’s Visa free access for Australian citizens. We are working to widen the promotion of the region as a tourism destination for Australia and to facilitate the flow of businessmen to our region. In this context and regarding the Smart Travel Advice for the Australian nationals, we are very open to share information with the authorities to make sure that the information presented there is updated and reflects the reality and improvements in security in each of our countries.
We are also glad to see that Australia has Work and Holidays Agreements with Argentina, Chile, Uruguay and Ecuador and we hope that in the near future Latin America can have negotiate more of these agreements so our young adults can keep on deepening the cultural exchanges and people to people links.

Education has been a very successful sector. There is a total of approximately 58,000 enrolments by Latin American students in Australia according to the Department of Education at several levels including English as a second Language (ELICOS), postgraduates and Doctorates. Brazil, Colombia and Chile are at the top of the list. We are entering a phase where we would like to see more scholarships and awards from Australia and a more unified system of internships, to allow our graduates to have a working experience in Australia, which will be beneficial for both parties.
A very relevant field of collaboration, in terms of security and defence, is yet to be explored and further developed. There are many areas that could be addressed such as Peace Keeping Operations, Humanitarian Assistance, Counter-terrorism, Naval Cooperation, cybersecurity, among others. Guatemala is a recent example of steps taken to advance collaboration with the Australian Federal Police.
One of the assets of Latin America is our social capital. Our students and professionals are highly qualified and constitute a vibrant community, that integrates fully in the Australian society. This is because our people share the same values as the Australians, in terms of democracy and respect for fundamental rights and freedoms.
The topic of Latin American migrant communities in Australia has not been studied in depth, and therefore we welcome the collaborative migration research project undertaken by ANIP, in coordination with ANCLAS. We are glad to acknowledge that this project has received the support of COALAR. The Project will be able to review the origins and the contemporary transformation of the Latin American migration, together with experiences of integration and the potential of transpacific connections.

Lastly, I would like to remark that we consider the promotion of our cultures as a useful instrument of “soft diplomacy”. As a group, we engage in common activities in the field of culture, including participation in Multicultural events, gastronomic and film festivals, supplemented by art exhibits sponsored by the different Embassies. We are glad to see that COALAR has supported events related to surfing and programs directed to the exchange of chefs de cuisine as is the case of a recent program with Peru.
Sports are a powerful way to connect our peoples and we have had a very active sports agenda in Australia this past few months with Brazil competing with the Socceroos last June and I am sure that this Saturday, here in Canberra, there will be huge crowds, composed both by Latin American and Australian fans, cheering in a packed stadium, either for the Pumas or the Wallabies.
I wish to finish insisting with the comment I made at the beginning: this Networking event coincides with a positive momentum in the relations between Australia and Latin America, and the political will that inspires it will be able to surpass the geographical distance that separates us. Let us take advantage of this opportunity.


Council on Australia Latin America Relations (COALAR) presentation - ALABC Networking Day

COALAR Mission Statement
The Council on Australia Latin America Relations (COALAR) was established by the Australian Government in 2001 to enhance Australia’s economic, political and social relations with Latin America.
COALAR's objectives are to:
•enhance and strengthen links between Australia and Latin America in the priority areas of business, education, sustainability, tourism and cultural promotion;
•achieve closer engagement between corporate Australia with Latin America; and
•increase awareness and understanding of Australia in Latin America, and of Latin America in Australia.

Why engage with LatAm ?
Why Australia should engage with Latin America and some suggested areas for engagement.
•Latin America is emerging as an important economic and regional bloc and Australia’s engagement in the Latin American region is significantly underdone.
•In the current international environment of uncertainty, Australia needs to look to new and different partners, building new relationships that reduces the risk of being left behind as new alliances emerge in the fast changing global environment.
•The ‘Pacific Pumas’ of the Pacific Alliance (Chile, Colombia, Mexico and Peru) are focussed on modelling economic and political development – aligning well with Australia’s economic diplomacy objectives.

LatAm Opportunities
As a region, the size of the population and its economic growth present the Australian Government significant opportunities
•Mexico to join Brazil among the ten largest economies globally in the next 10 years.
•Argentina, Chile, Colombia and Peru are emerging.
•Increasing interest in liberalisation of markets on the Atlantic side presenting new opportunities for two-way trade and investment.
•Needing to build stronger cultural and economic relationships with Latin America to grow our exports with Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Mexico, Peru and other emerging economies.

Australia - LatAm Opportunities
Some key facts about trade and Latin America
•Total GDP for Latin America is over $8 trillion.
•The Pacific Alliance, founded by Chile, Colombia, Peru and Mexico in 2011, comprises 38% of Latin American GDP - over $3 trillion.
•Mexico and Brazil have combined GDP of $2.7 trillion.
•The value of Australian exports to Brazil in 2016 was $1.9bn and Mexico $558m - less than 1% of the trade of these two powerhouse economies.
•Since 2012 Australia has had 20% growth per annum in Latin American students enrolling in Australian education institutions.

LatAm Opportunities
•Latin America accounts for seven per cent of international student enrolments in Australia with over 58,000 enrolments in 2016, an increase of 20 per cent from the same period in 2015 – Brazil only non-Asian source in the top ten.
•Australia has the potential to work in partnership with Latin America on global value chains, harnessing joint innovation and technology.
•Latin American countries are interested in working with Australia as a trusted partner and to share – value adding, not competing.
•The services sector, METS, Water Resource Management, Agribusiness, Tourism, Education and Research are seen as areas where Australia can add value and partner with countries in Latin America.

COALAR – Work in Progress
With limited financial resources COALAR has used its grants program to effectively leverage both public and economic diplomacy. An increased financial allocation could raise Australia’s profile exponentially. Some key COALAR achievements to date include:
•inaugural Australia – Chile Leadership Forum;
•presentations and follow up in six Latin American countries on Australia’s regulatory framework;
•broad ranging sports and cultural diplomacy;
•research and training exchanges and partnerships;
•support to the development of a Sustainable Minerals Institute in Colombia and Sustainable Mining Initiatives in Peru; and
•Australia-Latin America Young Entrepreneurs Award.

COALAR – Goals and Objectives
•A trade delegation (first half of 2018) and other Ministerial visits to the region (Science, Education, Mining Agriculture and Health for example) should be prioritised to highlight Australia’s interest in closer engagement.
•A high profile pilot education initiative (internships or reverse Fellowships), for Latin America would also promote Australia’s engagement with and competitiveness in the region.
•Tourism has been identified as one of five ‘super-growth’ sectors for Australia. Need to ensure Australia has a competitive visa framework to encourage visitation.
•Improve Air links between Australia and Latin America, which will underpin further growth in trade and people flows.
•A LatAm trade delegation agenda has been presented to the Trade Minister to visit in 2018.
•Free Trade Agreement negotiations have commenced with Peru bilaterally and the Pacific Alliance group – Chile, Colombia,

Momentum is Building
•The opening of the Australian Embassy in Colombia in June 2017.
•Free Trade Agreement negotiations commenced with Peru.
•Free Trade Agreement negotiations commenced with Pacific Alliance.
•Trade and economic talks recommenced with Mercosur.

COALAR Grant program
COALAR invites funding applications annually from individuals and organisations for projects that demonstrate the potential for the development of long-term links and cooperation between individuals and institutions in Australia and Latin America.
COALAR grants are intended to provide seed funds for innovative proposals relevant to the goals and mission of the Council.
COALAR supports innovative projects that have clear outcomes and seek to ensure the benefits of such activities are spread as widely as possible across the following priority areas:
•sustainability; and
•arts and culture (including sport).

Australia Latin America Young Entrepreneur Award
•COALAR is sponsoring the award again in 2018 – one for Latin America and one for Australia.
•Seeking expressions of interest from candidates who are running businesses with connections between Australia and Latin America.
•Candidates to display qualities in innovation.
•Applications will open in November.

LATAM News 31.08.2017
Features this month includes: US Policy opens the door to Mexican market for Australia  COALAR makes latest round of funding grants 2017 Brisbane Annual Dinner  Peru mining bonanza spurring growth, investment  Brazil on the rebound - Green shoots in the mining sector Ecuador seeing increase in infrastr... Sign-in to read

LATAM News 31.07.2017
Features this month includes: Australian begins FTA negotiations with Pacific Alliance Flight centre makes yet another acquisition in Latin America Building Bridges: Latin America's new trade agenda Women's leadership in Latin America Mexico and Australia committed to strengthening cooperation on multilateral issues  ... Sign-in to read


Pacific Alliance Free trade agreement

1July 2017

Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment, The Hon Steven Ciobo MP, announced on July 1 the launch of Free Trade Agreement negotiations between Australia and the Pacific Alliance - the Latin American trading bloc made up of Mexico, Chile, Peru and Colombia.

Australia is one of the first countries to launch FTA negotiations with the Pacific Alliance.

Minister Ciobo said a successful free trade agreement would help lift high tariffs on Australian beef, dairy and service exports like mining. He went on to add that an FTA with the Pacific Alliance trade bloc "will create new export opportunities" for many Australian sectors.

The media release issued by the Minister can be found at: Pacific Alliance Free Trade Agreement negotiations 

LATAM News 29.06.2017
Featured of this month include: IFM Investors and Spain's OHL Concessiones announce new deal in Mexico. Governor-General of Australia advocate closer links with Latin America Foreign Minister Bishop makes historic visit to Panama on extensive trip to the Americas. Latin America exports rebound in first quarter of 2017 A... Sign-in to read

Latam News 31-05-2017
Features this month include: Australia – Peru launch FTA negotiations                                     Latin American Infrastructure Forum opens new gateway &nb... Sign-in to read

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