Thursday, August 19th, 2010
During an election there appears to be money everywhere. Money for health, education, infrastructure. The Government and the Opposition find their chequebooks and go about promising to spend our money to boost the economy and save jobs.

So what about a little talked about sector of the economy that supports I in 5 jobs and represents over 22% of Australia’s GDP? No, it’s not the insulation industry nor the building trade. It’s exporters, selling Australia’s services, technology, mineral, farm and manufactured products to the world and earning hard currency in return. Exporters, propping up our Balance of Trade and earning enough money so that we can all buy big screen televisions and enjoy a comfortable standard of living.

So when most countries around the world are pushing for an export led recovery why is our government doing what appears to be the opposite?

Overall the federal government does a good job of helping exporters. Our Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade woks on bi-lateral and multi-lateral trade negotiations to help Australian exporters. Austrade helps Australian exporters find their way in new markets. And the Export Market Development Scheme helps exporters expand their marketing efforts by refunding a portion of their marketing expenditure.

Unlike some recent disasters the EMDG scheme really works. Every study ever done on export programs supports the effectiveness of the EMDG scheme that, including studies undertaken by the Mortimer Review of Trade Policies and Programs. But the scheme is under funded and this year it needs $50m to ensure every exporter than access the scheme will be supported.

Australian exporters are fighting the GFC and a high Aussie dollar. For the Government or the Opposition to not support a critical sector of the business community is unfavonable and to most Australians unbelievable.

Small to medium size exporters also represent more than 40% of Australia’s export earnings and are the backbone of employment in the industry. They are also the companies most at risk when the government does not fund and adequately support the export schemes.

Why would any Government promote a program that offers exporters $200,000 annually and then turn around and say we are only prepared to give you a maximum first tranche payment less than 14% ($27,500).

The new Minister for Trade Stephen Smith needs to show the government will support Australia’s exporters and fund the one government program that directly supports Australia’s exporters. The Opposition needs to show they will support the scheme if elected. And it’s quite simple. Industry has recommended a cap set at $200million, indexed and set for five years.

The government must act now. The EMDG is a really successful export program but without adequate support exporters will not have the confidence to invest in export promotion and jobs will simply disappear. In the end every Australian will suffer and our standard of living will slowly slide down the global rankings and into the economic wilderness.

Contact Profile

International Trade Association South Australia Inc

ITASA is the largest independent trade body in South Australia representing the State's most established and experienced exporters and importers.

The Association is unique for a number of reasons:

• It has the largest number of corporate members of any trade focussed association in South Australia

• Its operations are supported by membership subscriptions not government funds, preserving its independence as an industry body

• It is the only trade focussed association in SA that embraces both importers and exporters rather than restricting membership to exporters

• It is the only trade focussed association in SA that has a lobbying function

• It is the only private organisation (as opposed to government) which maintains an internationally focused website directory of SA companies products and services

• It has broad representation across all industry sectors

• It publishes the only hard copy directory showcasing South Australian companies that are actively doing business
Philip Marley, President, International Trade Association South Australia Inc
P: 08 8305 0524


election, Government, Opposition, Export, EMDG, Minister for Trade



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