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Research shows need for better education on Free Trade Agreements

By Export Council of Australia · August 04, 2015

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Australia’s International Business Survey 2015 (AIBS 2015) results were launched late last week. The AIBS 2015 – which reports on the views of more than 1,200 Australian businesses from across 19 industry sectors across 114 international markets – confirms that there is a lack of understanding of Free Trade Agreements by Australian exporters, says the Export Council of Australia (ECA).

A key finding of AIBS 2015 is that 71 per cent of respondents say that while they export to at least one market with which Australia has an FTA, they do not fully understand the agreements or how they apply to their business.

Export Council of Australia Chief Executive, Lisa McAuley, says Minister for Trade and Investment, Andrew Robb’s, aggressive trade liberalisation efforts  mean that Australian businesses can now benefit from significant new market access opportunities.

“However, while we now have a number of FTAs in place, tools that can help to increase the understanding of what these FTAs might mean for individual businesses and how to access the benefits need to be readily available to ensure exporters are “cashing-in” on the opportunities available to them,” Ms McAuley said.

“The ECA thinks more can be done to raise awareness and improve the practical understanding of FTAs in the business community and is working to fill that gap.

“In conjunction with ANZ Bank, the ECA has created an FTA Tool, which is designed to help Australian exporters navigate the basics of Australia's FTAs.

“And later this year we will offer FTA workshops on how to grow your business internationally by leveraging Australia’s growing FTA network,” Ms McAuley said.

Encouragingly, AIBS 2015 found that an impressive 83 per cent of participants were planning to expand to additional markets over the next two years, with the top five target markets being the United States, China, Indonesia, the United Kingdom and India.

Other results confirmed the importance of visiting overseas customers in person for international market development, with 76 per cent of respondents citing it is as very important and a further 17 per cent stating it as moderately important. 

“Given that local language, culture and/or business practices were nominated as the most significant barrier to doing business overseas, it makes sense that such a high number confirm the importance of building relationships in person,” Ms McAuley said.

“The survey also confirms the need for ongoing trade support, with 63 per cent of survey participants who had accessed an Export Market Development Grant at some point, saying it was very important to their international marketing efforts, with a further 31 per cent saying it was moderately important.”

Commissioned by the Export Council of Australia (ECA) with the support of Austrade and Efic,  AIBS 2015 was conducted by the University of Sydney.

Click here to download your copy of the AIBS 2015 full report!  

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