open side menu Navigation

24 June 2016

Beginners' Guide to Exporting for Small Business - MySmallBusiness

By Kate Carnell

So, you’ve heard a lot of talk about the Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) Australia has secured with some of our largest trading partners in Asia – Korea, Japan and China – and the new growth opportunities they’ve created, and you’re now wondering how you can tap into these vast – yet somewhat daunting – markets.

While it’s true, businesses of all sizes can take advantage of the lower tariffs and market access secured in these agreements to export their products or services, it’s important to take a measured approach when venturing offshore; like all business decisions, it’s vital you do your homework!

The good news is, there’s a wealth of information and assistance available that will not only help you better understand the agreements and what they mean for your business, but will also help you make the necessary decisions about whether or not you and your business are ‘export-ready’.

The first thing to remember is that all trade agreements are different, so you need to investigate each one individually and evaluate the risks and rewards of doing businesses using each one.

Business.gov.au is a good place to start researching your offshore opportunities.  It provides a range of information, including a link to a Free Trade Agreement ‘Portal’ that has been specifically developed to help businesses in Australia access targeted information on the recent ‘trifecta’ of trade agreements with Asia.

As well as answering frequently asked questions, the portal provides explanations of the agreements in plain English, along with case study examples of businesses already enjoying export success.

That sounds just like any typical government website I hear you say.  And that may be true except for one defining feature; the site is interactive in that businesses can identify the ‘HS Codes’ that apply to their specific product, the corresponding tariff reductions that have been secured under the agreements, along with important information on satisfying ‘rules of origin’ and other necessary certification documentation you will need to start exporting your goods.

Armed with this information, there are a variety of ways businesses can take the next step towards exporting into the region.  Both federal and state governments host business missions into Asia, which help facilitate relationships and open up doors for trade and investment.  Just this week, the NSW Government allocated $10 million in the state budget to assist SMEs in a variety of sectors, export their goods and services and find success internationally.

The NSW Business Chamber is also helping SMEs crack the complex, yet lucrative, market in China through their ‘Export Growth China’ initiative.

Under the program, SMEs are able to join for six months to showcase their products and services in a custom built showroom in Shanghai.  The Chamber connects Australian SMEs to genuine buyers within China – as well as showcasing their goods at major industry trade fairs – essentially minimising the risks and costs associated with testing the new market.

Since officially launching in 2015, the program has generated $4 million in export sales for SMEs.

By utilising the assistance that’s available, you’ll certainly be in a better position to weigh up your options and potentially chart a way forward for your business overseas.

So for small businesses considering expanding their enterprise offshore, there are three important letters to remember: F.T.A, which not only stands for Free Trade Agreements, but also Find The Answers; find the answers to some fundamental questions so you can gauge where your business is at and ensure you’re ready to take the leap, before making the move into these exciting new markets.