Allaster Cox, High Commissioner to Singapore, paid a visit to the Australian pavilion at Vinexpo Asia 2023 on Wednesday, meeting with winemakers and attending a masterclass.
Cox is an experienced diplomatic in Southeast Asia, having previously served as Ambassador to Vietnam, High Commissioner to Brunei and Deputy Head of Mission in Indonesia and Malaysia.
Cox told The Shout what he made of the trade show.
“I’m very impressed by the scale of it, it’s bigger than I thought it would be – although I knew we had 74 exhibitors from Australia here, so I imagined it would be pretty large.
“It’s the first time it’s been held here in Singapore… So I’m hopeful that there’ll be a lot of opportunity to grow some of the market in Southeast Asia in the show,” Cox continued.
“The people who run the show were telling me that there are a lot more participants, buyers and others coming in from Southeast Asian markets here than compared to Hong Kong.
“That’s a very important part of whole diversification approach. Traditionally we’ve had markets here, but we’ve had a big market in China.
“I think the market here in Southeast Asia – Singapore, Indonesia, Thailand, Philippines, Malaysia – you know, all these countries have a growing middle class.
“There’s tremendous potential to grow the wine business in Southeast Asia for Australia and to diversify our trade.”
Cox also explained why he thought Australian products at large had such a good reputation in the region.
“The research we do suggests that Australian products are very well received in Southeast Asia, and particularly in Singapore.
“I think there’s a strong perception of freshness, Clean Green, as they say. So I think we’re very much pushing on an open door in terms of the perception of Australian food and beverage, and I think wine fits into that.”
Cox believes there’s an educated consumer for Australian wine in Singapore.
“There’s an understanding, particularly here in Singapore, of the diversity of Australian wine’s, as they say in French, terroir.
“They know the difference between, you know, Western Australia, South Australia, Victoria, Queensland, Tasmania – our main wine regions. So there’s quite a bit of sophistication here. We can push that quite a bit.
“We have a lot of advantages in this market which we need to keep pressing home, we need to not be complacent, we need to always be trying to be competitive,” Cox concludes.