ASIA is emerging as a new market opportunity for south-west Victoria rather than Europe and the US, a Warrnambool forum has been told.
The gathering of business and education leaders decided to make a submission to the federal government’s green paper called Australia in the Asian Century so the south-west would be identified as part of the national process.
Another suggestion from Friday’s forum was the possibility of a Warrnambool Asia Society to assist with cultural, social and business development as well as supporting Warrnambool City Council’s new relationship with Changchun in China.
Warrnambool’s mayor Jacinta Ermacora, who chaired the forum, said another broader meeting would be held early next year to look at a cross-sector business case for new public and private enterprise food investment as well as better branding and promotion of the region.
“The strong attendance was a sign that our local dairy, meat, logistics, education and food production sectors are keen to work together to ensure we maximise our region’s opportunities into Asia in the next five to 10 years,” she said yesterday.
Friday’s meeting was addressed by Steve Howard, secretary-general of the Global Foundation which has offered to help push the south-west’s expansion.
Cr Ermacora said the forum identified the need to promote the region as a food bowl, recognising its potential and existing output.
“There was a recognition that we don’t promote the good things we already do,” she said.
“It was agreed we need to define the region’s opportunity, that our trading future is in Asia, not Europe or the US, and what we need to do to tool up to increase food production and manufacturing efficiency and smooth out supply chain links.”