Bi-partisan support for SME export opportunities urged

Monday 11 March, 2019 | By: Ella Schalch and Inside Small Business

The Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman Kate Carnell has welcomed the Joint Standing Committee report on access to Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) by SMEs and urged bi-partisan support for its key recommendations with regard to export opportunities for smaller businesses.

“The proposed centralised ‘single trade window’ of resources would help SMEs to tap into some of our largest trading markets,” Ms Carnell said.

The ASBFEO has supported the continued use of specific SME chapters in FTAs, including an eCommerce focus, and encourage additional SME user-friendly guidance and support for stepping into the business of exporting.

However, it is noted that each of the FTAs have different requirements, paperwork and processes, which the ASBFEO admits can be quite daunting to an SME owner, particularly smaller businesses.

“Despite our existing trade partnerships and the new partnerships with 10 countries through the Trans-Pacific Partnership, SMEs have not experienced the same growth in exports as has big business. This report acknowledges that Australia has so much to offer in the exporting of goods and services by SMEs,” Ms Carnell said.

The ASBFEO hopes that the recommendations around reducing the complexity of overlapping FTAs and trialling a grant program in regional areas will open up doors for trade and investment, and new growth opportunities.

“By realising the key recommendation in this report, SMEs would be in a better position to weigh up their options and potentially chart a way forward for their business overseas,” Ms Carnell said. “The review of Export Market Development Grants and the role of Efic (Australia export credit agency) is also welcomed as access to adequate finance for exporting SMEs remains a significant issue.

“The signing of the landmark FTA with Indonesia…today will provide many more opportunities for Australian SMEs.”

This article was originally published on Inside Small Business.

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