Researching overseas markets has never been easier, with the rise of the Internet adding to the support provided by government agencies and the various industry bodies.
But when it comes to practical market experience, wannabe exporters should not ignore a potentially even more valuable resource based in Australia.
For exporters considering specific markets, the various overseas chambers of commerce provide invaluable opportunities to meet face-to-face with market veterans, tapping into their knowledge and learning from their mistakes, as well as their successes.
One such chamber is the Queensland Japan Chamber of Commerce and Industry (QJCCI), which was established in 1987 to promote and strengthen business and investment ties between Queensland and Japan. The chamber offers a forum for Queensland companies involved in business with Japan and Japanese companies operating in Australia to network and share experiences.
With members ranging from ANZ Bank and Australian Agricultural Co to Mills Oakley Lawyers and Queensland Business Centre, the non-profit organisation is open to businesses of all sizes with an interest in the Queensland and Japanese markets.
Its establishment in 1987 reflects Japan’s longstanding position as one of Australia’s top export markets, with the two countries sharing similar values such as democracy, respect for law and intellectual property protection.
Range of opportunities
Offering events, trade missions, business matching and other services, the QJCCI provides a range of opportunities for exporters to gain a greater understanding of the opportunities available in the world’s third-largest economy.
However, the QJCCI is not alone among the various overseas chambers of commerce available to exporters.
Other chambers targeting specific overseas markets include the American Chamber of Commerce, the Australia Israel Chamber of Commerce, the Canadian Australian Chamber of Commerce, the Denmark Chamber of Commerce & Industry, the Italian Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Australia China Business Council, among many others.
While most chambers’ memberships reflect their origins, exporters can still seize the opportunity to network with like-minded businesspeople without needing to share their background.
Commenting at an August QJCCI event in Brisbane, KFSU Managing Director Gordon Edwards urged small businesses to take advantage of such opportunities to build their networks, since “anyone in the room could be a potentially useful contact.”
Potential sources of market knowledge
The various overseas consulates and other bodies in Australia are another potential source of market knowledge and advice, with Japan for example offering support to emerging exporters through the Japan External Trade Organisation (JETRO).
JETRO’s services include market and industry information, advice on laws and regulations, cost estimates, support in finding local office space and staff and free temporary use of office space in the JETRO Invest Japan Business Support Centres (IJBSC) in Japan.
And once exporters have explored such networks, further knowledge and advice can be obtained through Austrade and the various state governments’ international networks, with Queensland, Victoria and NSW particularly active in overseas representation.
Australia’s multicultural society is another valuable source of expertise for exporters, with translators available in a range of languages along with potential staff and business partners.
For Australian exporters, it has never been easier to explore opportunities in overseas markets, without ever setting foot abroad.
Disclaimer: Anthony Fensom is Vice President of the Queensland Japan Chamber of Commerce and Industry (QJCCI).