Small business clueless on free trade

Australian Associated Press, March 30, 2017:

Small businesses in Australia are failing to fully tap into the potential gains of free trade agreements.

That’s one of the conclusions from a Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand and Deloitte Access Economics future of trade report released on Thursday.

After taking the pulse of 1500 businesses in both countries the researchers found 64 per cent in Australia and 72 per cent in NZ felt free trade deals had no impact on their business or had a neutral result.

Chartered Accountants chief executive Lee White told AAP the federal government needed to do more work to help small business understand the potential markets in Asia.

“We’re forecasting Australian export growth of $80 billion in the next five years, but we can only achieve that if the government focuses on educating businesses about the benefits of trade agreements,” he said.

“Negotiating deals is only half the battle.”

He acknowledged that Austrade was doing some roadshows around the country to promote the free trade deals with Japan, Korea and China.

But he said small business people were often time poor and the government should also target local chambers of commerce.