Welcoming the news ChAFTA will come in to force by December, mid-size businesses exporting to China will now be able to confidently invest in growing new markets, at the same time as creating new jobs in Australia according to Grant Thornton CEO, Greg Keith.
“ChAFTA has significant potential for job generation as Australian mid-size businesses grow. Legislation provides confidence for ongoing investment into Asian expansion strategies and driving business confidence across the country.”
“This is the perfect time for Australian mid-size businesses to develop their Asian growth strategies.”
“We’re closing the gap on competitors like New Zealand who implemented its agreement in 2008, and now has 97 per cent of its products enter duty free. Full implementation of ChAFTA tariff reduction commitments will take up to 15 years on some products according to the agreement.”
“Take NZ beef, for example, which already enters the China market duty free. The significance of legislating ChAFTA by December will mean that Australian beef producers will make a start on its tariff reduction journey, catching up to New Zealand’s tariff free beef in 2024,” said Keith.
“Despite representing a combined economy larger than Queensland and employing more than 3.7 million people in Australia, the interests of mid-size business are not represented, even though they are best equipped to deliver results for Australia. Now more than ever is the time to appoint a Minister for mid-size business,” said Keith.
Mid-size businesses are the engine room of the economy driving business confidence, injecting $AUD241 billion into the economy through wages and salaries and have a combined annual turnover of $AUD1.1 trillion. They are well placed to succeed in export markets, but their interests need to be looked out for in order to deliver results.
“Mid-size businesses will deliver but we need to equip them with the right networks, market intelligence and assistance in penetrating supply chains. Winning export markets is a complex equation and while the tariff reduction schedule is a great first step, it’s just one ingredient.”
“If we do it well we can address more than just tariff barriers. Mid-size business needs an ongoing voice at the table as the working groups address non-tariff barriers to make sure it’s commercially relevant, in areas including recognition of qualifications, product standards, quarantine regulations to name a few.”
“Small business interests are being catered to by Kelly O’Dwyer, larger business already at the table. Mid-size businesses that have the scale and agility to build momentum and success in new markets are not being represented,” he noted.