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Looking to spread your export wings – Free Trade Agreements

By Paul Wilson

CCIWA’s Free Trade Agreement seminars can set you on your way to becoming an exporter or expanding your existing export markets to other areas.

A series of Free Trade Agreement Access Workshops – run by CCIWA and subsidised by the Federal Government – are leading WA businesses to markets they may have never before thought of entering, including China, Korea, Japan, Singapore and Malaysia. 

It makes perfect sense for WA businesses to investigate options in these countries, which are already keen buyers of Australian products — accounting for 50 per cent of the nation’s exports. 

CCIWA’s International Trade and Investment Centre TradeStart Adviser Darren Levy says our workshop, followed by a 90-minute one-on-one session, could prove a game-changer for a WA business. 

The workshops cover export readiness, government grants, market pricing, FTA red tape, industry-specific market information and country-by-country regulations that apply to products, services and investment. 

“There are bigger markets overseas,” Levy says. “There are margin advantages and price advantages to selling overseas if a business can deliver the volume.” 

He says CCIWA also works with big companies who are already exporting to Asia and want to get into, say, the Middle East or that have a good market in the United States but might want to consider Asia.The seminars, funded through Austrade, will address goods, services and investment. 

How ready are you, really? 

Levy says many companies have great ideas but haven’t thought through — or sometimes aren’t aware of — key aspects to becoming market ready. 

“So let’s say you’re going to sell a phone cover, you come to our department and say I have this great phone case, it’s got this great Aboriginal art on it and there’s going to be a demand for it in China, Korea or Japan,” he explains. 

“We say great — are you selling it in Australia at the moment? You say no, I’ve just developed it. 

“We say that’s fine, you’re not eligible for Austrade yet because you are not market ready, but here’s how you can become ready.” 

Becoming export ready — where a client understands what they need to put in place to win and safely engage in a foreign transaction — is yet another step in the process. 

Levy says while most of the time clients have “no idea” of what’s involved to get to this stage, CCIWA can help. 

“Once they’ve reached a level of understanding what their gaps are and how to address them, we then say okay, we’ll give you access to the Austrade offices on the ground — 80 Austrade offices in 43 companies,” he says. 

“They are paid people on the ground, who speak the local language and their job is to research the markets and help find buyers. 

“So if you want to sell that phone cover, we’ve identified the markets, we know whether they have price advantages, what grants you’re eligible for and we’ve given you some tips and taken steps to close the gaps in export readiness.”  

Levy says all along the way a business needs to navigate contracts, tax implications, marketing collateral and understanding the “customer stuff”. 

“We have all those services as well,” he says. 

Can you go it alone? 

Levy, who was an export manager across three industries in 30 countries for 20 years, says businesses can navigate the minefield on their own and wishes those who try “good luck”. 

“Many people have been very successful doing it that way, but I guess how I ended up here was I was that guy on the ground in all those countries and I used the Austrade services and I learned how to leverage them,” he says. 

“It’s much cheaper to have people on the ground who already know the market and Austrade has specialists in those areas in many of the markets, help fund the research, do the introductions and then you actually go and talk to those people rather than the scattergun, let’s see what happens, approach.” 

CCIWA’s Free Trade Agreement seminars can set you on your way to becoming an exporter or expanding your existing export markets to other areas. 

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