The Tasmanian government has appointed a trade advocate in Japan as part of a broader effort to grow and diversify its export markets.
Making the announcement in Hobart on Tuesday, Trade Minister Guy Barnett was joined by Japanese Ambassador Shingo Yamagami, who acknowledged that Australia was "facing a certain degree of difficulty in its trade relationships with some Asian countries".
Mr Barnett said Joe Gayton would serve as Tasmania's trade advocate in Japan and would be based in Tokyo. Mr Gayton had lived in the country for "many years", Mr Barnett said, and would be "a supporter of Tasmanian trade and investment opportunities in Japan".
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"The Japanese market appreciates [the] premium products that we have here in Tasmania, whether it's agriculture, seafood, whether it's mineral and mining products or aluminium, as well," he said.
Mr Barnett said Tasmania's plans to develop a renewable hydrogen industry would also benefit the Japanese, who he said had "very big plans" to increase their consumption of the green fuel.
Mr Yamagami, who assumed the role of Ambassador of Japan to Australia in December last year, said Australian companies were helping Japan reduce its dependence on rare metals from "one particular trading partner", referring to China.
"You can't put all the eggs in one basket of any particular trading partner," he said.
Through its Tasmanian Trade Strategy, the state government has now appointed two trade advocates - the other being in the United States. Another will soon be appointed in Singapore.
Tasmanian goods exports to Japan are worth $239 million a year and account for about 6.6 per cent of the state's total goods exports. Indeed, 22 per cent of Tasmania's total agricultural and seafood exports go to Japan.
Mr Barnett conceded that Tasmania was still experiencing trade difficulties with China - which accounts for 40 per cent of the state's exports - after tensions flared between Canberra and Beijing last year.
"We want to rebuild that relationship and rebuild those trade links, of course, with China," he said. "But, on the other hand, we also want to diversify and grow our markets in a whole range of different places and Japan is a very key market for Tasmania."
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