The Australia Gulf Council (AGC) has announced details of its forthcoming Business Mission to the Gulf States which will be jointly led by Hon Bob Hawke AC (Prime Minister of Australia 1983-1991), Hon Mark Vaile (Deputy Prime Minister of Australia 2005-2007, Minister for Trade 1999-2006) and Senator Hon Nicholas Sherry (Assistant Treasurer 2009-2010, Minister for Small Business 2010-2011).

AGC Chief Executive Michael Yabsley has confirmed that the Business Mission from 24 February to 1 March will visit Oman, Qatar and United Arab Emirates (UAE) with 18 delegates from leading companies with a direct interest in the trade and investment relationship between Australia and the Gulf States.

The AGC Business Mission will engage directly with corporate and government leaders in the Gulf States.

Mr Yabsley said: “The 2012 Business Mission is a powerful statement about the importance of the relationship between Australia and the Gulf States, underlined by the seniority of leadership by Bob Hawke, Mark Vaile and Nicholas Sherry and the commercial standing of the Australia sectors and companies participating.”

Australia’s total merchandise trade with the Gulf States including imports and exports was AU$8,739m in 2010, up from AU$2,370m in 1985.

The AGC was established in 2010 to recognise and nurture the relationship between Australia and the Gulf States and the commercial, government and non government networks that underpin it.

Sectors represented on the Business Mission by chief and senior executives include construction and engineering, education, financial services, transport, telecommunications, horse racing, tourism and agriculture.

The AGC is particularly pleased that Ahmed Fahour is participating in the Business Mission.  Mr Fahour is Chairman of the Council for Arab-Australian Relations (CAAR) and Australian Envoy to the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) as well as CEO and Managing Director of Australia Post.

In a joint statement Business Mission leaders Bob Hawke, Mark Vaile and Nick Sherry emphasized the need for Australian companies to take the message of ‘Brand Australia’ to the markets that offer potential for expansion.  In that context, the Gulf States are front and centre.

“From our varying political and commercial backgrounds we know that enduring commercial outcomes occur where relationships are nurtured.  That means having a presence not only through DFAT and Austrade but at a commercial level as well. The AGC Business Mission puts this idea into practice in a most effective way.

“The Gulf States through the GCC are one of the great commercial engine rooms of the world.

“Australia and the Gulf States also share common values and interests which facilitate the two-way flow of capital.” Bob Hawke, Mark Vaile and Nicholas Sherry said.

The AGC comprises 25 leading Australian Corporate Partners and works closely with DFAT and Austrade in building the Australia Gulf State relationship.

Mr Yabsley confirmed that during and immediately after the Business Mission the AGC would focus on developing the Council’s Corporate Partner Program in the Gulf States to ensure the organisation reflects the strength of the relationship from both ends.

“Our strategic plan has been to build the AGC in Australia initially.  Those foundations have been laid and it is now timely to show our corporate, government and non-government counterparts in the Gulf States how focused we are on growing the relationship.

“The AGC looks forward to welcoming Corporate Partners from the Gulf States.  That process is off to a strong start with Etihad recently becoming the AGC’s Principal Corporate Partner.


“The success and standards of Etihad as the world’s leading airline is symbolic of the quality of opportunities in the Gulf States.  There is a real commitment to being number one – something that is admired by both government and private sector in Australia,” Mr Yabsley said.

Further details about the Business Mission will be released in the near future. The Business Mission is being managed by Georgie Skipper together with Simone Thielbeer and Nicole Bucci.