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SA govt says au revoir to Paris trade office


The Malinauskas Labor Government has abandoned a Liberal plan to open a European trade office in Paris.

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The state’s London-based trade office will instead undertake all European operations, working across multiple regions like its counterparts across the globe in Dubai, Houston, New York and Singapore.

The former Marshall government announced in June last year it would establish a trade and investment office in Paris to grow the state’s exports to Europe, sustained by a $1.8 million State Government investment over four years.

The Weatherill government initially opened a trade office in Paris in 2017, touting it then as the first state to open such a permanent presence in France.

However, within weeks the chosen trade representative was stood down and the Paris operations were then essentially operated out of the South Australian Agent-General’s office in London.

Since the June announcement that the Paris office would be re-opened, Australia’s relations with France have cooled with the September decision to scrap a $90 billion submarine deal with Naval Group.

The new government says reversing the decision to fund the extra trade office in Paris will create a saving equivalent to hiring six frontline nurses.

There are already SA trade offices in Houston, New York, Shanghai, Jinan, Hong Kong, Dubai and Tokyo, a number of which opened during the Marshall Government’s four-year term.

Minister for Trade and Investment Nick Champion said while Brexit may have changed the UK’s status as a European nation, it did not change its geographic location.

“Given the Marshall Liberal Government never hired staff, signed leases, or progressed with the opening of this (Paris) office the money allocated is better spent domestically,” he said.

“We already have a fully established presence in Europe through our UK-based trade office (and) South Australia’s regional director Stephen Camporeale, will ensure he and his staff spend time on the continent building South Australia’s footprint and relationships with Europe.”

In the 12 months to the end of April, South Australian exports to the European Union were worth $867 million, up 22 per cent on the previous year and more than double the $406 million in exports to the UK.

SA’s biggest export destination is still China ($1.8 billion), followed by the US (1.2 billion), India (1.05 billion) and the Middle East ($1.02 billion).

Total exports for the 12 months to April 2022 were $13.75 billion, up 9 per cent on the previous year.

Major export categories included wheat ($1.5 billion), copper ($1.5 billion) and wine ($1.3 billion).

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