You might have heard about the Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) that Australia has in place with countries such as Korea, Japan and China.
If you’re looking to tap into these markets but you’re not sure how, the good news is, there’s a wealth of information and assistance available that will help you better understand the agreements and what they mean for your business.
They will also help you make the necessary decisions about whether or not you and your business are ‘export-ready’.
Do your homework
Like all business decisions, it’s important that you do your research and proceed with caution. Exporting can mean more opportunities, but it can also attract greater risks.
The first thing to remember is that all trade agreements are different, so you need to investigate each one individually and evaluate the risks and rewards of doing business using each one.
business.gov.au is a good place to start researching your offshore opportunities. It provides a range of information, including a link to a Free Trade Agreement ‘Portal’ that has been specifically developed to help businesses in Australia access targeted information on the recent trade agreements with Asia.
As well as answering frequently asked questions, the portal provides explanations of the agreements in plain English, along with case study examples of businesses already enjoying export success.
‘Export Growth China’ initiative
The NSW Business Chamber is helping SMEs crack the complex, yet lucrative, market in China through their ‘Export Growth China’ initiative.
Under the program, SMEs are able to join for six months to showcase their products and services in a custom-built showroom in Shanghai. The Chamber connects Australian SMEs to genuine buyers within China – as well as showcasing their goods at major industry trade fairs – essentially minimising the risks and costs associated with testing the new market.
Breaking into a market such as China can be daunting and it requires careful planning and research. The advantage of the ‘Export Growth China’ program is that there is a dedicated team that can help you navigate the cultural complexities you might experience in an international environment.
Since officially launching in 2015, the program has generated $4 million in export sales for SMEs.
The program is open to all members of any Chamber of Commerce across Australia and may be eligible for a claim under the Export Market Development Grant.
You can find out more about the program by visiting exportgrowth.com.au.
Small Business Export Loan
You might also be able to take advantage of Efic’s Small Business Export Loan. The application process can be completed in as little as 30 minutes, and formal approval received within seven days. You will need to meet the eligibility criteria, but if you’re successful, you may be able to receive up to $250,000 to fund your export idea.
By utilising the assistance that’s available, you’ll certainly be in a better position to weigh up your options and potentially chart a way forward for your business overseas.
Kate Carnell is the Australian small business and family enterprise ombudsman.