Victoria will maintain its focus on building global connections and promoting trade and investment across the Middle East with the appointment of a new Commissioner for Victoria to the Middle East, Africa and Turkey.

Former Austrade Consul-General in Dubai and General Manager for the Middle East and Africa, Gerard Seeber has been appointed to the position and brings with him more than 35 years’ experience in similar roles.

Mr Seeber’s appointment is part of the Victorian Government’s ongoing work to strengthen Victoria’s presence in key markets like the Middle East, Africa and Turkey where trade has grown strongly in the last decade.

The Middle East and Turkey represent Victoria’s fourth-largest merchandise export market, worth more than $2 billion in 2016-17.

Mr Seeber will take over from Mr John Butler, who has held the position for almost a decade and whose leadership and advocacy for Victoria has helped the state make significant headway in the region.

Victoria’s capabilities are well-matched to the developing needs of the region, especially in areas like food security, agriculture, education and healthcare.

Victoria is diversifying its trade and investment relationships with the region, engaging emerging markets and delivering high-quality professional services in fields like technology, mining services, and water and waste management.

Mr Seeber will use his previous experience in the Middle East to lead the locally engaged staff at the Victorian Government Trade and Investment (VGTI) office in Dubai to further develop Victoria’s trade links with the region.

Victoria’s business office in Dubai was established more than 20 years ago and is now part of Victoria’s 22-strong Trade and Investment office network, which is the largest of any Australian state or territory.

Exports were worth more than $51.6 billion to Victoria’s economy in 2017-18, an increase of 6.5 per cent from 2016-17.