The 2015 Budget will provide $24.6 million to assist Australian businesses make the most of the export and job-creating opportunities generated by these historic Free Trade Agreements.
Trade and Investment Minister Andrew Robb said the government is committed to ensuring Australian businesses fully capitalise on the opportunities created by the recent trifecta of Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) with China, Japan and Korea.
“This investment will help businesses large and small across Australia’s metropolitan, suburban, regional and rural areas to access the export opportunities these agreements create, Mr Robb said.
“This powerful trifecta of agreements account for over 62 per cent of Australia’s export market and provide Australian businesses with access to more than 1.5 billion people, opening up endless opportunities across goods, services and investment.”
Mr Robb said a key plank of the government’s FTA outreach program includes the continued roll-out of a national FTA seminar series over the next two years, which he explained, is a collaborative project undertaken by Austrade and the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.
“The seminars are designed to equip people with the information needed to leverage the opportunities created by the FTAs. We plan to reach-out to thousands of businesspeople in all corners of the country over the coming weeks and months,” Mr Robb said.
“The Government is also developing an online dashboard-portal – including a comprehensive tariff finder – which will be a fast and efficient tool for businesses to use, to help make well informed decisions about trading internationally.”
Mr Robb said FTA kits will also be made available for business chambers, industry groups, local councils and others, to deliver their own FTA education activities.
“The kits will include fact sheets and a video presentation showcasing examples of Australian businesses that are already capitalising on the opportunities created by the Free Trade Agreements with Asia, and as a result are seeing significant results on their bottom line,” Mr Robb said.
Mr Robb said the FTA outreach program will also include enhanced help-desk support, a grants program and training, in addition to a promotional campaign to explain the benefits of the FTAs to businesses and consumers, and showcase Australia as a trade and investment destination for offshore businesses.
Open for business
The Budget also provides $18 million for an expanded series of Australia Week trade missions and promotional events in China, India, the United States and ASEAN.
“This additional funding will help us further drive our ‘open for business’ message, promoting Australia as a world class tourism destination and a valued trade, investment and education partner,” Mr Robb said.
“Australia Week events held this year in India and last year in China proved highly effective in building direct links with consumers and potential business partners in two of the world’s biggest economies.”
Australia Week in China consisted of a business mission with over 750 delegates and simultaneous promotional events in major Chinese cities. Australia Business Week in India involved 450 delegates.
Significant business leads
These missions were Australia’s largest ever to both China and the sub-continent.
Commercial agreements worth around $884 million were signed during the Australia Week in China program, which also generated significant business leads and inbound investment worth billions of dollars, some of it still progressing.
The Budget funding of $18 million will allow for further biannual Australia Week events to be held in China and India until 2019.
It will also allow similar events to be held in the United States and a coordinated Australia Week program across ASEAN. In the US, the Government will replace the trade, investment and tourism aspects of G’day USA, with an enhanced program.
“The Australia Week initiative seeks to broaden engagement and communication with a number of markets that are crucial to Australia’s future economic prosperity,” Mr Robb said.
“They are an important part of the government’s efforts to support jobs and growth by backing our business strengths.”