News and Insights 2 MIN READ

The rise of the digital economy often means that when we think of companies with global potential, startups creating apps the world will love are the first to come to mind. However, with Australia’s signing of free trade agreements (FTAs) with Korea, Japan, and China there is growing demand for products that small businesses, in particular regional businesses, can supply.

To help regional businesses explore trade opportunities in Asia, Minister for Small Business, Michael McCormack, will this Friday be hosting a seminar in Wagga Wagga aimed at helping local businesses understand and make the most of these FTAs.

“Our North Asia FTAs create new possibilities for exporters, while delivering jobs and economic growth here in Australia,” McCormack said.

Joining McCormack in speaking at the event will be Michael Growder, assistant secretary of the Free Trade Agreement Division at the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade; David Lawson, trade commissioner at Austrade Tokyo; and Graham Allen, general manager trading at Australian Grain Link.

The Wagga Wagga seminar is part of a series, with a number of tailored workshops around the FTAs to be held around Australia over the coming months.

Also to be held this Friday is a North Asia FTA training session for SMEs in Bendigo, organised by the Australia China Business Council.

The program will look to help participants understand issues including the role of FTAs and their benefit to Australian companies and the practicalities of classifying products and Certificate of Origin requirements, as well as the practical side of doing business with China through explaining business trends, cultural nuances and China market analysis.

A similar event will be held on November 21 in Canberra by the Centre for Customs and Excise Studies at Charles Sturt University, while the Victorian Chamber of Commerce and Industry will hold a session in Melbourne on December 5.

Though the North Asia FTAs have been subject to criticism, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull earlier this week urged regional businesses to take advantage of the opportunities they present, saying that when it comes to produce in particular Australia can benefit greatly from exposure to Asia.

“There are descriptions made in China that Tasmania can be the delicatessen of China; well not even Tasmania is big enough to be the delicatessen of China, but nonetheless the opportunities are enormous,” he said.

According to Chinese online retail giant Alibaba, which in September signed an agreement with Austrade that will look to strengthen trade opportunities across Australia and China, Australia currently ranks fourth in sales volume behind the US, Japan, and Korea on Alibaba’s Tmall Global platform, which allows foreign companies to sell directly to Chinese consumers.

Alibaba added that the majority of Australian products sold online in China are vitamins and supplements, dairy items, breakfast cereals, and beauty products.

As part of its partnership with Austrade, Alibaba will look to help further promote these products, introducing an annual ‘Australian Fresh Food Week’ sales promotion and educational event on Tmall Fresh, the platform’s fresh food channel.

As well as Alibaba, the Chinese government too is pushing further collaboration, with the AFR reporting today that China has singled out Australia as a key partner as it looks to push the development of a regional free trade pact, a ‘Free Trade Area of the Asia Pacific’.

You can learn more about the seminar in Wagga Wagga and other sessions here.

Image: Michael McCormack. Source: abc.net.au

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