The Australian Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack, said that Australia and the UAE enjoy a strong bilateral relationship in areas including trade and investment, defence, law enforcement, security and consular cooperation.
When asked to comment on how the Australian government facilitates economic and commercial diplomacy with the UAE, McCormack said that promoting investment in both directions remains a priority for the two countries.
"Trade continues to grow in the key sectors of tourism, education and agriculture, and this is aided by over 100 direct flights between Australia and the UAE every week," he said, noting that in the past two years the two countries have also increased the mechanisms to facilitate consultations between them, and now have a Joint Economic Committee and forum for political consultations.
McCormack, who is also the Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development, went on to highlight Australia’s 28-year record of continuous economic growth. This makes Australia an "attractive investment destination," he added.
"During my visit to the UAE, I will be exploring further opportunities for Australian businesses and to advocate for further investment in Australia, including in areas such as regional Australia [towns, small cities and areas], and in infrastructure, which are part of my ministerial responsibilities.
The UAE’s aviation and aerospace sector is an area of investment interest to the Australian Trade and Investment Commission, Austrade, McCormack said.
He went on to laud the UAE’s achievements in the space industry, saying, "Let me join the world in congratulating the UAE’s first astronaut, Hazza Al Mansoori, and the UAE more broadly on the successful mission last week. It is an exciting time for the space industry in the UAE as it works towards the Red Planet [Mars] project.
"Collaboration between the UAE and Australia in this area is already growing," he said, adding, "We look forward to continued collaboration under the two MoUs between the UAE and Australia through the Australian Space Agency and the South Australian Space Industry Centre in the exploration and utilisation of outer space as well as joint scientific research and development of space technology."
The MoU is considered part of the Australian Space Agency’s broader mission to triple the size of the country’s space sector to US$8.53 billion (AED31 billion) per annum, and to create 20,000 new jobs by 2030, McCormack explained.
"Several weeks ago, the Prime Minister [Scott Morrison], during his visit to the United States, announced that Australia would be committing AU$150 million (AED371 million) to join NASA on its mission to the moon and beyond to Mars," he added.
The Australian government also recently announced a 10-year path to guide the growth of Australia’s space sector in priority areas such as position, navigation and timing, Earth observation, communications technologies and services, space awareness and debris monitoring, leapfrog research and development, robotics and automation on earth, and in space, and access to space.
The two countries also have a shared interest in ensuring food security. The Australian government developed a Critical Infrastructure Resilience Strategy to address priority life areas, such as food and water security, in times of crises. The UAE, also, has developed a National Food Security Strategy for 2051.
Commenting on how the two countries can work together to address regional and global food insecurity, the Australian Deputy Prime Minister noted Australia’s expertise to share in priority areas including aquaculture, urban farming, vertical gardens and hydroponics.
He added that the UAE and Australia share certain climatic conditions in common, including desert and heat, noting that Australia "has much to offer in terms of experience in managing agriculture, livestock breeding and water resources."
McCormack also highlighted recent visits by UAE officials, Dr. Thani bin Ahmed Al Zeyoudi, Minister of Climate Change and Environment, and Mariam Hareb Almheiri, Minister of State for Food Security, to Australia in 2018, where opportunities for collaboration between the two countries were explored.
"Australia and the UAE also have a MoU on the sanitary and phytosanitary conditions for trade in food, processed food, animal by-products, plants and plant products," McCormack added, stressing that through visits in both directions, the governments, research sectors and private industry will further enhance the areas for sharing and collaboration.
"The World Road Congress provides a valuable platform for governments and businesses to share ideas and best practices initiatives," he said, noting Australia is at the forefront of global efforts to improve road safety to reduce road trauma.
SCATS is an adaptive urban traffic management system that synchronises traffic signals to optimise traffic flow across a whole city, region or corridor. SCATS and related softwares are currently licenced to operate in more than 37,000 intersections worldwide.
McCormack added, "I look forward to showcasing Australia’s achievements and also learning from the experience of other countries, including the UAE which I understand has undertaken a rapid growth programme for roads and road safety over the past ten years."
"Through the introduction of rules, technology and public messaging campaigns Australia has managed to reduce the number of road deaths per year from 3,798 in 1970 to 1,226 in 2017. But one death and one crash on the roads is still too many," he affirmed.
He went on to highlight his conversation with H.H. Sheikh Theyab bin Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Chairman of the Department of Transport - Abu Dhabi, on Sunday, adding that it was an "opportunity to exchange ideas and learn from Sheikh Theyab, and Dr. Abdullah Al Nuaimi, UAE Minister of Infrastructure Development."
Australian organisations with road safety expertise are collaborating with governments of other countries and institutions such as the Asian Development Bank in areas of research, standards and regulations, technology, intelligent transport systems, services and training.