On Tuesday ANZ is sponsoring the Trade Policy Launch in Sydney, where Minister for Trade and Investment, the Honorable Steven Ciobo, and Shadow Minister for Trade and Investment, Senator Penny Wong will present their views on issues pertinent to Australia’s international trade agenda.
Given the impending election, the stakes are high for both parties.
As the resource investment boom winds down, we are seeing more and more businesses from other sectors, especially in agriculture and services, take advantage of the significant international trade opportunities – but it’s clear, Australian businesses need more support.
I’ll be listening to what Minister Ciobo and Senator Wong say about policies to support trade liberalisation and enhance the global competitiveness of Australian businesses. I personally await their keynotes with great anticipation.
In my view, there are three critical issues that businesses face when growing offshore and politicians should address:
- Reduction of non-tariff barriers. Restrictive export quotas and embargoes are a significant impediment to trade flow.
- Decreasing the regulatory burden. Small-to-medium enterprises (SME’s) face significant regulatory costs and processes. Addressing this will empower them to better utilise time and deploy resources more effectively.
- Elimination of export red-tape onshore. We are often our own worst enemies. Many businesses grapple with Australia’s lengthy and complex onshore export processes and they often give up before even getting started.
The new and proposed free trade agreements (FTAs), such as CHAFTA (China Australia) and TPP (Trans Pacific Partnership), have certainly given rise to optimism and created a renewed sense of energy around international trade but it’s not enough.
ANZ’s Opportunity Asia report shows FTA utilisation and awareness of FTA benefits among Australian businesses is extremely low.
However, it’s not all doom and gloom. An increasing number of businesses are starting to identify opportunities abroad and many of them are looking to government for support.