Starting this month Business SA is offering training under the Federal Government’s Free Trade Agreement Training Provider Grant Program to assist companies to grow their businesses overseas.
The program includes tariff classifications, rules of origin, export logistics, legal obligations and export financing.
A SA Department of State Development study last year showed that exporting is not only the preserve of large companies. Small companies are making inroads into overseas markets and building platforms for further growth.
The prospect of exporting can be daunting for small to medium enterprises, says Business SA chairman Vincent Tremaine.
To help SMEs Business SA will launch its Export Ready Program early next year with $600,000 in funding over two years from the State Government.
The program will help SMEs to develop an export business plan backed up by detailed marketing plans and financial costings. The training workshops will be complemented by one-on-one support for participants, and work in conjunction with other government trade incentives and assistance measures like the Export Partnership Program and TradeStart.
With only about 20 per cent of businesses benefiting from Australia’s Free Trade Agreements, Business SA is also actively supporting businesses to explore the potential gains to be made in China, Korea and Japan.
Mr Tremaine said a state like South Australia with a relatively small marketplace, needs to export to grow its economy.
“With an increasingly open market and cheaper inputs for local manufacturers and retailers, courtesy of recently negotiated free trade agreements and long-term tariff reform, our imports are also growing,” he said.
According to Australian Bureau of Statistics South Australia came close to recording its first monthly trade deficit in more than a decade in July.
Need for action
Exports only exceeded imports by $90 million after exports were down by 22.7 per cent from June to $799 million and imports were down 4.1 per cent to $709 million.
“The year-on-year figures give the broader picture and the trend in our external trade account, with exports only growing 0.9 per cent over the year to July and imports increasing 6.8 per cent,” Mr Tremaine said.
“Such a scenario calls for action and Business SA is playing its part with support from the state and federal governments.
“With the support programs being delivered by Business SA, we hope to see a significant increase in export activity that reverses the declining trend in the state’s trade balance.”
Despite the drop in export revenue, SA still has many success stories.
On October 5 those achievements will be recognised when Business SA hosts the state Export Awards Gala Dinner, with a record 39 finalists vying for 13 prestigious awards.