The year is drawing to a close and what a year 2014 has been in the world of trade. Not only has Australia secured the promised trifecta of trade agreements—namely Korea, Japan, and most recently China—the WTO breathes life once again as the Trade Facilitation Agreement gets back on track, and Australia announced the introduction of the Trusted Trader Programme. We’ve seen Customs and Immigration merge, Tourism join Austrade, AusAid move into DFAT; and through this all Australia’s exporters have continued to work hard and win in international markets. Evidence of this was seen Australia wide as we celebrated export success across the country at the Export Awards.
The ECA has also been keeping busy. As this is the last edition of the ECA’s magazine for the year, I thought it would be appropriate to recap the achievements and activities that have shaped the last 12 months, as well as providing a sneak peak of what’s to come.
- Launch of Trade Policy Recommendations 2014/2015: Investing in trade is investing to grow. Increasing international competition means that prioritizing and promoting trade and investment in Australia is not optional; it is imperative.
- Launched the Australia's International business survey (AIBS): the largest study into export behaviour in Australia. The results and subsequent insights of which were and will continue to be used to drive the agenda for the future of Australia’s international business.
- Launched the META/ ECA Deregulation hub: to connect manufacturing businesses together with industry experts to identify and quantify the regulatory costs imposed on exports and the impact this has on manufacturing companies.
- Launched the Indonesia Now program: a program aimed at demystifying doing business in and with Indonesia
- Developed new education and export capability programs: with a program that focuses on skills development and one on one consulting
In December 2014, the Export Council of Australia will be launching an important publication on Advancing Trade Development in Australia. The ECA has long recognised that there was a shortage of research into the government support programs offered to the Australian export community in terms of export promotion, programs and services offered.
The last time Australia’s trade promotion Programs & services were analysed was during the Mortimer Review back in 2007. The ECA's research paper will review Australia’s current trade support programs and analyse the trade support programs of 11 countries of which Australian competes with internationally.
The research will ultimately provide a solid platform to raise the debate on advancing trade development in Australia as well as:
• Increase the level of engagement and expenditure in the trade and investment agenda to fully secure the benefits of recent initiatives and achievements.
• Conduct regular performance reviews of Austrade’s key trade promotion programs, making the results publicly available on an annual basis, and assess its resource allocation domestically and internationally.
• Increase Austrade’s international representation, especially in established markets where there remains demand for trade support services
• Provide additional funding for Austrade to compensate the growth of its portfolio, which now includes Education, Tourism and Investment in addition to Trade Promotion.
And we are not standing still, with a couple of projects already on the go for next year that have all been developed to equip Australian business with the skills and capabilities required to effectively and efficiently conduct profitable international trade.
So what can you expect from the ECA in 2015?
- The ECA will be launching a mobile app that will provide a useful guide for companies looking to set up in the Shanghai Free Trade Zone.
- The ECA will be launching a mobile app that will advocate for greater Australian engagement with Korea through an increased understanding of the market and a practical guide to utilising KAFTA as a platform to doing business in Korea.
- Through the AIEx we will be redeveloping our education programs to provide more online courses and consulting opportunities. This also included developing peer to peer mentoring opportunities for companies, a program that was strongly advocated for during the AIBS focus groups
- Results of the AIBS survey for 2014/2015 will be launched and we will once again drive changes regarding the support and programs delivered to Australian business
- The ECA will be launching new event programs aimed at demystifying how to do business in the top 10 markets Australian companies were targeting in the AIBS survey
- The ECA is currently working with partners on developing an FTA Tool for SME exporters that can be used to better educate companies on how to engage with FTAs.
On behalf of the ECA board, I would like to thank everyone for their support in 2014 and encourage those that are not currently a member of the ECA, 2015 is definitely the time to join us as we continue to grow as an organisation.
Export Council of Australia