Thirty five per cent of exporters thought the Trump administration would have a negative impact on their export orders. Trump’s trade policies were the main reason for the negative sentiment with over one in four exporters believing the USA’s withdrawal from the TPP would adversely affect orders.
Brexit was in third place with 17 per cent of exporters expecting to be negatively affected. The recent change to 457 visas in the labour market was also a concern.
Thirteen per cent of exporters thought Amazon’s entry into the Australian market would have a negative effect on orders although 22 per cent thought it would be positive.
In response to uncertain world conditions and the draw of FTAs, exporters are focussing their efforts more tightly with the proportion of exporters selling to multiple regions reducing sharply from 76 per cent in 2015 to 68 percent in 2017.
One in four exporters claim their largest export market is New Zealand while one in five list North America. The UK is almost as popular as continental Europe and China dominates the North East Asian markets along with Hong Kong and the FTA markets of Japan and South Korea.
Exporters are also planning to target new markets – particularly New Zealand, South East Asia, Europe and the UK as well as some traditional Asian export destinations.
Interestingly, language and cultural and religious differences hardly rated at all as challenges for exporters. Being a sound business and respectful to international cultures were more important than being a champion linguist or ‘cross-cultural expert’.
Tim Harcourt is a JW Nevile Fellow in Economics, UNSW Sydney and host of The Airport Economist