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Socceroos World Cup games to help Middle East, Aust business

05 June, 2008

Football Federation Australia (FFA) and the Australian Trade Commission (Austrade) will help link Australian companies to the rapidly growing business potential of the Gulf region through a series of business breakfasts held to co-incide with the Socceroos world cup campaign qualifying games against Iraq in Dubai this Saturday (7 June) and Qatar in Doha (14 June).

To capitalise on the profile of the Socceroos’ qualifiers, events will be held in Abu Dhabi with the support of Australian Business Group on the 9th, Dubai on the 10th aided by Australian Business Chamber, and on June 12th in Doha, supported by the Australia-New Zealand Business Group.
Austrade’s Dubai-based Trade Commissioner James Wyndham said the Socceroos campaign would capture the attention of the expatriate and business community in the UAE and Qatar.
“There are close to 20,000 Australian expatriates in the UAE, compared to just over 3,000 six years ago. Trade is also rapidly increasing. In 2006-07 Australia’s exports to the United Arab Emirates grew by a staggering 45%, with total two-way merchandise trade expanding by almost 70%. Australian construction expertise, food, fashion, services, and a wide range of products are increasingly in demand,” Wyndham said.
"Around 100 business people are expected at each function. Austrade and the Australian Embassy in Abu Dhabi helped connect the FFA to local business groups. Austrade is keen to continue working with the FFA to use the platform of the football as a means to build the profile of Australian companies and generate international business opportunities for Australia,” Wyndham said.
Football Federation Australia’s Head of Corporate and Public Affairs Bonita Mersiades said football is uniquely placed to help Australian businesses integrate into the rapidly expanding economies of Asia and the Middle East.
“Building links for the international business community through football also helps repay the Australian Government’s investment in developing the game, and supports our goal to host the 2018 FIFA World Cup,” Mersiades said.
Austrade’s Chief Economist Tim Harcourt said the world game’s popularity and Australia’s recent rise to greater prominence in football assisted by the World Cup success and high profile marquee players like Harry Kewell, offered outstanding potential to promote Australian business strengths in Asia, the Gulf region and beyond.
“Australia has more trade engagement in the nations that make up the Asian Football Confederation than anywhere else,” Harcourt said.
“The top ranked Asian Football Confederation nations accounted for nearly $76 billion in exports compared to just over $16 billion of the top ranked FIFA nations.
Harcourt said strong people-to-people and cultural ties are an important part of the business potential of Football.
“The migrant community has been the backbone of the game in Australia and according to Austrade research they have also been the backbone of the Australian exporter community,” Harcourt said.
“Exporting companies are more likely to be started by immigrants – think Bing Lee, Crazy Johns, and Frank Lowy himself – with many having close ties to football too,” Harcourt said.

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