Compliance issues, red tape, and a lack of knowledge relating to free trade agreements (FTAs) are holding back many of Australia’s businesses from engaging in international trade, according to a new survey by the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI).
The ACCI’s 2015 Trade Survey, using information gathered from 227 businesses, revealed that more than two in three businesses do not understand Australia’s FTAs and around one in three have no knowledge about the FTAs currently in force.
56 per cent of respondents pointed to FTAs as the trade subject they most wanted more information on.
“We welcome the Government’s signing of FTAs with Japan, Korea and China, our major trading partners. Now businesses need to take advantage of the opportunities created by the deals. The sale has been made – now we need the after-sale service,” Kate Carnell AO, CEO of the ACCI, said.
“Raising awareness of all FTAs is an important first step, followed by education for businesses explaining how the agreements can create opportunities and save businesses money. Our research tells us there is a strong appetite for FTA knowledge, but many businesses don’t know where to go to find out more.”
The survey revealed the top five barriers businesses say they are facing when it comes to exporting goods and services:
- International competitiveness.
- High exchange rate.
- Complexity of rules and red tape for international trade.
- Customs and border crossing costs.
- Non-tariff barriers (such as regulation or standards).
“The survey also shows we must improve our international competitiveness if we are to compete in a global marketplace. Australia has slipped to 22 on the World Economic Forum rankings for competitiveness, compared to New Zealand at 17,” Ms Carnell said.