The Arabian Peninsula economies of the Gulf Cooperation Council have emerged as strong forces in world economy. They also present a key and upcoming trade and investment partner of Australia. In recent months, the GCC countries have renewed their interest in pursuing a Free Trade Agreement with Australia and identified it as a priority market. Two-way trade and investment between Australia and the Middle East are valued at tens of billions of dollars annually. The region is an important market for Australian exports such as livestock, meat, and vegetables, and an important source for raw materials. In addition to the trade and investment relationship with the region, the region is a leading global hub of Islamic Capital Markets, which are valued at USD 2.2 trillion in 2020. Australia’s leading financial institutions, such as National Australia Bank, have started to offer Islamic Financial products in the Australian markets and to increase their exposure to Islamic financial products.
The ANU is proposing to initiate high-level interactions on matters of economic and strategic priority while taking into account the agile and evolving relationship between Australia and GCC stakeholders. The ANU Centre for Arab and Islamic Studies will organise and facilitate these interactions in Australia and in selected GCC countries. This initiative directly serves ANU’s Strategic Plan and will strengthen ANU’s national mission through addressing the evolving strategic and economic realities of Australia. It further serves the Federal Government’s Modern Manufacturing Strategy and Industry Growth Centres Initiative in strategic industries essential for Australia’s economic recovery and future resilience. Through multi-level stakeholder engagement, including federal government, state government, industry, GCC official representation, and civil society and research and educational institutes, these workshops will contribute positively to the economic needs of Australia and the wider Asia-Pacific region. Although the primary focus of workshops is economic, by facilitating trade and investment interactions, other educational, political, security, social, and environmental topics will be part of the discussions.