Survey finds small business is more optimistic about exports

The Australian, March 12, 2018

Small businesses are increasingly optimistic about the returns from operating in world markets as the global economy gains strength.

The twice-yearly survey of small exporting businesses, conducted by the government-owned Export Finance Insurance Corporation, has found a high level of confidence.

Almost two-thirds of small exporting firms expect their financial position to improve over the next 12 months, compared with just 6 per cent who think they’ll be worse off. This result is well ahead of the result a year ago, when 57 per cent thought there would be an improvement and 8 per cent thought conditions would deteriorate.

The survey found that 58 per cent say their financial position is better than 12 months ago, while 9 per cent say it is worse.

Trade Minister Steve Ciobo said small businesses were being helped in export markets by the trade deals the government has negotiated.

“Big business will always find the resources to navigate the complicated requirements to break into overseas markets.

“However SMEs, often family businesses, don’t have the resources to do the same.”

Mr Ciobo is promoting the new Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement as a boost for small business, which he says will find it easier to operate in a $14 trillion market. He said the deal would eliminate more than 98 per cent of tariffs in an 11-nation zone.

The survey found that the volatility of exchange rates was mentioned by 45 per cent of firms as one of the major challenges they face in international markets, followed by the 35 per cent who listed dealing with international partners and 31 per cent who said the challenge of opening new export markets.

The number who say the uncertainty of international economic conditions is a barrier to expansion has fallen from 43 per cent to 39 per cent over the past 12 months.