Australia’s exports are too small and too concentrated. We are well under the OECD average for export intensity. What we do export comes from a small number of businesses selling a small number of commodities, and those sales are disproportionately to one market. Too few Australian SMEs export. This needs to change.
The Australian Government must put growing Australia’s international trade at the heart of its business agenda. This should involve coordinating all the levers at its disposal—policy, service delivery and regulation—and ensure all are directed towards the same objectives.
It is vital that trade is viewed through the prism of the entire business journey: from giving businesses confidence to think internationally, to helping them have the capabilities to act internationally, to helping them find the right buyers in overseas markets, to ensuring that when they make a sale they face as few barriers as possible.
The ECA recommends the the Australian Government:
Set a policy of diversifying Australia’s trade (the destinations, industries and the businesses) and develop an overarching strategy to achieve this diversification
Give the trade minister a clear mandate to coordinate and oversee trade-related activities across government
Adequately resource trade-related agencies and the Export Market Development Grant
Conduct a major review of export regulation to re-evaluate what is regulated, why it is regulated and how it regulated.