The Hon Philip Dalidakis - United Kingdom, France and United Arab Emirates


The Hon Philip Dalidakis MP


Trade and Investment

Countries visited

United Kingdom, France and United Arab Emirates

Date of travel9 – 19 February 2018
No of official travel days
(including date of departure and date of return)
11 days
Number of accompanying Ministerial Staff1
Accompanied by spouse in an official capacityNo
Funding sourceDepartment of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources
Air fares (including taxes and fees)$26,900
Accommodation (including taxes and fees)$10,562
Other expenses (includes surface travel and travel allowances)$10,303
Travel cost for minister and staff$47,765

*The above costs are not final and complete

Purpose of travel

The purpose of my visit was to support the Victorian Government's investment attraction activities in Victoria's defence sector by undertaking a program of meetings with key stakeholders in the UK and France.

The UK and France are key markets for investment in Victoria. For the period to June 2016, UK Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) into Victoria was ranked second and France was ranked fourth.

While overseas, I also visited Dubai in the UAE, to promote Victoria's capability in the supply of food and beverage products and open the Victorian Government stands to welcome participating companies to Gulfood 2018, the world's largest food trade show.

Benefits of travel to the State of Victoria 

Over the course of the visit, I participated in 28 meetings and events with UK, French and UAE investors, business people and government officials.

United Kingdom

I met with the Australian High Commissioner to the UK, the Hon Alexander Downer, AC, to discuss the bilateral relationship between the Victorian Government and the UK Government. The value and strength of this relationship is evident by the fact the UK is the second largest source of total foreign investment in Australia ($515.5 billion, 2016), and in turn the UK is Australia's second most important foreign investment destination ($350.5 billion, 2016).

I met with representatives from BAE Systems plc to discuss its Australian subsidiary's bid for both the LAND 400 Phase 2 and SEA 5000 Future Frigates (SEA 5000) projects. Estimated to be valued at $35 billion over 20 years, the SEA 5000 project presents a significant opportunity for BAE Systems Australia (BAE Systems) and its key Tier 1 suppliers such as General Electric (GE) – Power and Conversion, DB Santasalo, L3, Rolls Royce and RH Marine. If BAE Systems is successful in bidding for the SEA 5000 project, suppliers will work in a teaming arrangement with BAE Systems to deliver the project.

I also attended a number of meetings with companies on national security matters. At this point in time, I cannot disclose the details of these meetings; however, subject to ongoing discussions, we will look to make some announcements where these meetings have delivered positive outcomes to the state.

I met with suppliers and gained a useful insight into their respective interests to establish and expand their research and development (R&D) capabilities and operations in Victoria.

In addition to both pursuing and advocating Victoria's capabilities for defence investment opportunities, I met with other high-level stakeholders from companies considering establishing new operations in Victoria as their Asia-Pacific headquarters or to consolidate their existing operations.

Octopus Investments is one such company that I met with; it is a UK venture capital and private equity firm that specialises in early-stage growth and buyouts in the renewable energy sector. Recognising the opportunities for investment in Victoria, Octopus recently opened an office in Melbourne.

I also hosted a roundtable of 25 fintech companies and provided an overview of the latest in cyber and fintech in Victoria and opportunities for UK companies.


While in France, I visited the Region Centre de Loire to meet with representatives from the French Parliament in order to build on the relationship between the Region and Victoria.

I was hosted by the Mayor of Bourges and attended a roundtable meeting with representatives from the local defence industry and higher education sector. At the meeting, we discussed opportunities for future cooperation including a commitment to negotiate a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU). The proposed MoU between the Region's Land Systems Defence Industry cluster and the Australian Industry Defence Network – Victoria (AIDN-Vic) will explore opportunities for partnering, collaboration, and research and development. I am pleased to report the Victorian Government will host a delegation of industry and education representatives in June 2018 to finalise the discussions and sign the MoU.

I met with Australia's Ambassador to France, Mr Brendan Berne, and discussed France's approach to its trade and defence export policy. We discussed the opportunity for Victoria including developing global standards for export.

I later met with Mr Loïc Kervran, Member of Parliament, with a Chair at the Defence Commission who indicated his support for the MoU and confirmed the opportunities for future defence trade and investments between France and Victoria.

I inspected the manufacturing and assembly facilities of three local defence and armaments companies. One of the companies expressed interest in establishing a manufacturing plant in the Latrobe Valley. The Victorian Government will continue to work with the company to assist it to undertake a feasibility study to establish in the Latrobe Valley.

I then travelled to Paris for meetings to promote Victoria's trade and investment agenda with key stakeholders from select defence, construction and technology companies, and government officials.

I was hosted by Mr Hervé Guillou, the CEO of Naval Group and Chairman of the France-Australia Business Council of MEDEF International, and attended a roundtable meeting of MEDEF members. The meeting highlighted the existing connections between French and Victorian companies, particularly in relation to infrastructure and defence projects as well as future collaboration opportunities.

During these meetings, Victoria's reputation as a source of highly qualified and suitably skilled people was raised as a competitive factor for the state's ongoing investment attraction value proposition.

I met with senior executives from the Thales Group where we discussed the One Sky project and at the time were encouraged by the then positive update on the status of the project. Following my return, I was pleased the Commonwealth Government Airservices selected the Thales Group to carry out the $1.2 billion air traffic control system overhaul. This project is further proof of Victoria's highly skilled workforce and a long-term commitment to building complex systems engineering and software development capabilities. As reported in the Herald-Sun (26 February 2018), Thales' Melbourne facility has generated more than $1 billion in exports by building similar air traffic management systems for nations including Indonesia and Singapore.

I met with senior representatives from a diversified industrial company headquartered in France, Bouygues Construction. Bouygues Construction Australia (BCA), a subsidiary of Bouygues Construction, provides services in building, civil engineering, earthworks and infrastructure for mining services throughout Australia. BCA is also a member of the Cross Yarra Partnership consortium announced as the preferred bidder for the $6 billion Melbourne Metro Tunnel. In my discussions with the company I confirmed Victoria's appreciation of Bouygues' contribution to one of the state's key infrastructure projects and gave a commitment to explore further options to assist the company with its expansion plans in Victoria.

United Arab Emirates

The purpose of my visit to Dubai was threefold: to promote the extensive capability of Victoria's numerous food and beverage producers participating in Gulfood 2018; to meet with key companies considering Victoria as a potential investment location; and to formally open the new Innovation Centre facility at the Victoria International School of Sharjah.

Gulfood 2018 is the world's largest annual food trade show with around 5,000 exhibitors from 120 countries, including up to 40 Victorian companies. As widely reported, I had the pleasure of being shown around Gulfood 2018 by His Highness Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Deputy Ruler of Dubai and UAE Minister of Finance as part of the official opening of the show.  I was both impressed by, and proud of, the high quality and diverse range of Victorian food produce in all categories of "world food", "beverage", and "dairy".

Victoria was the largest exhibitor in the Australian pavilion, reinforcing its reputation as a supplier of premium food and beverage products from Australia. Already the direct benefit to the participating Victorian companies has been significant, with participants reporting immediate sales with a combined value of $922,400 and forecasting future sales of $8.8 million for the next 24 months.

I visited Spinneys Supermarket in Dubai, which operates 51 retail outlets in the UAE and has more than 800 grocery items from Australia on its shelves, 550 of which are manufactured in Victoria; this is an excellent foundation upon which to further grow our exports in premium fruits and vegetables, and manufactured food produce.

I met with Lulu Group International's Executive Director, Mr Salim M.A., who runs a highly diversified business operating in 21 countries. We discussed opportunities for expansion to Victoria. The retail division runs hypermarkets, shopping malls and import and export trading. Following my meeting, I inspected one of the company's largest supermarket and department stores in Dubai, and noted the high quality Victorian produce present.

I visited the Victoria International School of Sharjah (VISS) in Sharjah. Established in 2005, the VISS is an initiative of His Highness Sheikh Dr Sultan bin Mohammed Al Qasimi, Ruler of Sharjah in collaboration with the Victorian Government. The school delivers Victorian curriculum from early years learning through to Year 10, and the International Baccalaureate Diploma for senior students; this is a world class example of the Victorian primary and secondary education standards instilling excellence. VISS has continued to grow and now has more than 1,500 students representing 67 nationalities. The spirit of collaboration between the Emirate of Sharjah and the Victorian Government was renewed in 2017 by the Ruler of Sharjah and the Victorian Deputy Premier, the Hon James Merlino MP. Given my other portfolio responsibilities for innovation and the digital economy, I opened VISS' new Innovation Centre where students participate in programs to design, build and use robotics, computer programming, gaming, and coding. It was evident during my time at the school how engaged the students were in learning new technology skills and the sense of achievement they got from putting these skills into action and seeing their inventions work.

Next Steps / Follow Up

United Kingdom

There are a number of UK based companies looking to expand their global footprint; the UK and Europe Victorian Government Trade and Investment (VGTI) team will continue to work with these companies to set up their regional operations in Victoria.

The Victorian Government will also continue to work closely with UK based defence companies to assist them to either establish a presence or increase their footprint in Victoria.


The Victorian Government is continuing to develop a program of introductory meetings and tours with the delegation of representatives from the Region Centre de Loire scheduled to visit Victoria in late May-early June 2018. In preparation for the delegation's visit, the government will also facilitate discussions to negotiate and finalise the proposed MoU between the Region's Land Systems Defence Industry cluster and AIDN-Vic.

The Victorian Government is working with French companies that expressed an interest in either expanding their existing operations, or establishing a new presence in the Asia Pacific region. Further work is being undertaken to assess possible government assistance.


The Victorian Government will continue to promote the state's high quality fresh and manufactured food products to be supplied to Spinneys Supermarkets.

The Dubai VGTI team is continuing to work with the Lulu Group regarding its future business plans, and advocating that Victoria be the location for further expansion.

Page last updated: 22 May 2018