Winter 2018 update

Latin America is heating up as a compelling market for trade, investment and educational prospects for Victorian businesses.

This has been helped by the 2016 opening of the Victorian Government Trade and Investment office in the Chilean capital of Santiago and the recent establishment of direct flights between Santiago and Melbourne.

There are already many successful inter-country collaborations. Victorian-headquartered companies like BHP, Orica, SEEK and Carsales.com have strong footholds in Latin America and our government is helping Victorian companies and institutions such as Rubicon Water, Gekko Systems and Deakin University increase their presence in the region.

Currently, Victoria’s relationship with Latin America is dominated by goods and service-based trade, with international education, mining and METS (mining equipment, technology and services) all playing an intrinsic part in driving export revenue for our state.

The figures do the talking: bilateral trade between Victoria and Latin America exceeded A$1.9 billion in 2015-16, with manufacturing, technology, finance mining and agriculture being the key growth sectors.

International politics also comes into play. Specifically, Brexit and changes in US foreign policies have seen many Latin Americans looking beyond the US and the UK for study destinations – which is Australia’s gain.

Visit by the Honourable Linda Dessau, AC Governor of Victoria

Victorian Governor, Linda Dessau (centre) in Santiago with members of the Chilean/Victorian Alumni network

Factoring in these shifting political developments, it’s prescient that the Victorian Governor, Linda Dessau recently embarked on a five-day mission to Latin America. Latin American student numbers to Victoria have grown four-fold in the past decade, and the Governor’s mission outlined initiatives that will attract even more of its students to the state and encourage more Victorian students to study in Latin America.

“The Governor’s visit helped open doors with education stakeholders, including with ministry scholarship agencies – especially in Colombia, one of Victoria’s key markets for inbound students,” notes Santiago office Senior Investment and Trade Director, Natalia Gorrono. Along with the rest of the team in the Chilean capital, Natalia provides market intelligence and guidance to help make Victorian businesses competitive in trade, education and investment.

The importance of alumni as advocates and ambassadors to help position Victoria’s education sector cannot be under-estimated either, points out Natalia, who notes that the Governor helped launch the Colombian Alumni network while in Bogota. “Most students returning from Victoria end up in high-level positions both in the private and public sector and they can help increase student flow and spearhead business opportunities for our state.”

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