By Leon Gettler >>

THE trade war turned currency war, between the US and China, is a misnomer.

According to Michael Every, Rabobank’s head of financial markets research Asia-Pacific, who is based in Hong Kong, it’s actually a cold war.

One that will take decades to resolve.

“Fundamentally what the US wants and what China wants are vastly different,” Mr Every told Talking Business. “This is a clash between the two that ranges from physical geography to ideology to currency to trade to economics and I simply don’t see where the middle ground between the two can be.

“One can describe it as a trade war, one can describe it as a currency war but both are merely the first stages in sub-sets in what is a much larger struggle. 

“Effectively the terms of what Trump is offering to China are open up your economy.  Make it look like the US or Japan,” Mr Every said.

“If you do that, fine, we can deal with you as one economy to another in an integrated global economy and if you won’t do that, we are going to decouple.”

Mr Every said that decoupling would be seismic shock for the global economy.

He said of all the economies that would suffer the most in that shift, New Zealand and Australia would be “number one and number two”.

Mr Every said there were already signs of this happening in Australia with the demand for coal falling and warnings from China about beef and wine.

He said all Australian exports would be affected, from tourism to students coming to study at Australian universities.


Mr Every agreed that China is playing the long game while Donald Trump’s focus is on the election in 2020.

However, he said, there are signs that this is changing in the US, not from Donald Trump himself but the people around him.

Mr Every said the recent speech given by Federal Member Andrew Hastie, in which he compared China with Stalin’s Soviet Union, was being echoed by others in the US. 

“Trump is probably the biggest dove and would be quite happy to do a deal but there are people all around him pointing out that if it can’t be done, then the US will roll up its sleeves and put on its knuckle dusters,” Mr Every said.

He said the US actually had a lot of experience playing the long game during the Cold War.

“Obviously, it’s forgotten how to do that during the last couple of decades of anything goes, and globalisation, and the belief that everyone’s a capitalist and we’re all going to get along and trade with each other,” he said.

“I don’t think it will take too long for the US to rediscover how it used to operate in the Cold War and rest back to that operating system.”

Mr Every said potentially this could lead to a mild global recession and, in a worst case scenario, it could be more severe than that.

Hear the complete interview and catch up with other topical business news on Leon Gettler’s Talking Business podcast, released every Friday at   

BUSINESSES are constantly trying to innovate and create the next big thing, attempting to expand and ultimately succeed. However, one business leader who has 'been there and done that' warns that many companies and business owners with dreams and aspirations to go global don’t make it – and he puts it down to five avoidable traps.

James Dutton, Australian entrepreneur and CEO of Nutricare – a company using premium, sustainable ingredients to create common health and personal care items – has seen the recurring mistakes people often make and even experienced a few himself. In fact, he will be speaking about these very challenges at the upcoming Retail Global conference in the Gold Coast this week, May 29-31.

“There are countless business traps, especially when expanding overseas, and often the simplest things can make the biggest mess," Mr Dutton said. "Listening to the right advice and learning from others' mistakes can help a business thrive. Conferences such as Retail Global are great places to hear the right advice and learn." 

Respected for his ability to grow and manage companies from seed to capitalisation, Mr Dutton has unique skillsets and knowledge gained over the last 25 years of his professional career. He has managed and commercialised businesses from motorsport, finance and e-commerce at both a national and international level.

Mr Dutton's in-depth and practical ‘hands-on’ approach and knowledge of business has propelled him through his career as a successful entrepreneur.

Mr Dutton provided the following five 'traps to avoid' when expanding a business overseas:

  1. Raising too much capital

"Businesses can raise too much capital when it is usually best to ‘leave it lean’. What can happen when there is too much capital is that there are either a) too many hands in the one basket and it can be easy to lose control or b) high valuations also tend to lead to high risk and makes the next hurdle harder to hit. It also doesn’t matter how much capital you raise, whatever the number is you will end up spending it over two years, so it’s best to start with less and grow the company at a steadier rate.”

  1. Not using your resources

“Lean on as many resources as possible but ensure it is only for a certain time period. Use those resources and then go and action those plans, otherwise your idea will never get off the ground. I made sure I found the right information in a short session while using as many resources as possible to make it happen. If you continue to listen to mentors the whole way through you won’t get anything done. Use gut decisions, rely on the right people and tap into assets in your landscape.”

  1. Growing too fast

“It can be a balancing act trying to grow your business at a rate sufficient enough for your resources, expenses and management. I learnt this the hard way and my business grew too fast. When excessive fast growth occurs entrepreneurs can lose track of finances and numbers, there are cash flow mistakes, and general ineffective business operations. When everything is balanced you will have more control of the company and the direction it goes in.”

  1. Not doing your research

“Make sure you do your research and groundwork. You need to do this to understand your landscape. The number one thing I have learnt from everything is understand the culture of where you are expanding to. If you don’t know the culture of the people you are going to deal with, you have no idea what is going to happen when you launch. Preparation is key.”

  1. Hiring the wrong people

“Many business owners will say the same thing – hire people you can trust. There are often areas that business owners excel at and others in which they are weaker in. These areas are where they need to depend on the right people especially when expanding overseas. Finding those people can be tricky but it is invaluable. We have attracted some fantastic people and also some really bad people. It is about learning how to put trust in the right people and keep a tight monitor on what’s happening every day."

“Business isn’t for the light hearted, you have to go for it and you have to go hard but in order to succeed you need to listen to the common traps businesses experience and avoid them where possible," Mr Dutton said.

"Learn from your mistakes and also learn from others."

James Dutton will be speaking at Retail Global  on the Gold Coast from Wednesday May 29 to Friday May 31.


THE QUEENSLAND Government can thank a doubling of coal exports over the last four years for a new record in overseas trade of $83 billion, Queensland Resources Council chief executive Ian Macfarlane said.

Mr Macfarlane said figures released by Queensland Treasury overnight show coal exports for the 12 months to February this year were $35.8 billion compared with $18 billion in the 12 months to February 2015, when Annastacia Palaszczuk’s Queensland Government was sworn in.

“Over the same period, coal royalties increased on $1.6 billion in 2014-15 to more than $4.26 billion this financial year. That’s a 150 percent  increase,” Mr Macfarlane said.

“Without the coal royalties, the State Budget would be in deficit and the government’s capacity to deliver services and build infrastructure like Cross River Rail would be diminished. The Palaszczuk Government is forecast to receive an extra $1.9 billion in coal royalties between 2017-18 and 2021-22.  

“The resources sector — coal, minerals, petroleum and gas — account for more than 80 percent of Queensland exports. That’s more than $60 billion or more than $1.2 billion each week,” he said.

“The resources sector in Queensland exports more than all industries in New South Wales.
“To put that in context, for each of 316,000 men and women working in the resources sector, almost $200,000 worth of resources is exported on their behalf.
“When Queensland resources sector is strong, Queensland is strong,” Mr Macfarlane said.

“The global demand for our resources is stronger than ever before.”
Mr Macfarlane said coal’s contribution to exports continued to grow, and it was driving royalty revenue for the Queensland Government and company taxes for the Australian Government.


By Leon Gettler >>

IRISH companies are expanding into new markets including Australia because of the ‘Irish advantage’ according to Kevin Sherry, the executive director of global business development for Enterprise Ireland.

He said international companies see three things in Irish businesses. The first is the skills and adaptability of its workforce, coming out as number one in productivity. The second is the focus on innovation. And the third is the trust that comes from being able to deliver.

“While we are a small country, just five million people, a fifth the size of Australia, we punch well above our weight,” Mr Sherry told Talking Business.

He said Enterprise Ireland, a government agency, had set up technology centres in such areas as big data, risk and compliance and life sciences, with the technology road map set by industry. 

He said Enterprise Ireland helped Irish companies start and expand into international markets. Enterprise Ireland was the world’s third largest seed investor.

“We’re in there from the ground floor with these companies to help them develop and build a team, to invest in new technology and spin out technology from research centres and there’s a very heavy government investment in that area,” Mr Sherry said.

The result: Ireland’s GDP is above 4 percent.


Mr Sherry said Australia was a really important market for Ireland and a number of Irish companies had built their footprints here.

“What we’re seeing is companies putting footprints here and creating jobs in Ireland and jobs in Australia,” he said.

Mr Sherry said Enterprise Ireland had been preparing for Brexit for the last two and a half years.

“With Enterprise Ireland we focus on a no-regrets strategy, that is, the things you can control that are within the company’s grasp and those things for us are helping companies with their competitiveness – and to continue to innovate and develop new products and services – and also expanding their reach and getting into new markets to lessen dependence on the UK,” Mr Sherry said.

He said with all the uncertainty around Brexit, Irish companies had responded really well and were building connections with other markets.

Despite that, the UK would continue to be an important market for Ireland and Irish companies, he said.

“Regardless of what happens with Brexit, they are our near neighbours and they’re a very important trading partner and valued customers and friends of Ireland and Irish companies,” Mr Sherry said.

“We will continue to trade with the UK, albeit with some businesses and sectors, the business model will have to be different.

“If there is no deal, then obviously… in some sectors, that will have a significant impact.”

Hear the complete interview and catch up with other topical business news on Leon Gettler’s Talking Business podcast, released every Friday at


AUSTRALIAN defence industry manufacturer Austal will build two more warships for the United States Navy.

Austal will build two additional Independence-class Littoral Combat Ships for the US Navy, following through on eight ships already delivered.

The vessels, which were designed at Austal’s Centre for Excellence in Maritime Design in Henderson, Western Australia, will be the 16th and 17th ships in the class for the US Navy. 

“This is an outstanding success and comes after Austal won the contract to build 21 Guardian Class Pacific Patrol Boats in WA,” Minister for Defence, Christopher Pyne said.

“The patrol boats will be delivered to Pacific nations as part of our Pacific Maritime Security Program.”

Acknowledging Austal’s success, Minister Ciobo said he hoped to see even more Australian companies achieving export success.

“Through the Defence Export Strategy we want to become a top 10 defence exporter and I encourage other Australian companies to get in touch with the Defence Export Office to find out what support is available to them,” said Minister for Defence Industry, Steven Ciobo.

The contract award follows an announcement by the Government of Trinidad and Tobago in July 2018 that it would purchase two Austal Cape Class Patrol Boats.

Austal has also delivered Cape Class Patrol Boats to the Australian Border Force and Royal Australian Navy.

Mr Ciobo said all defence exports “continued to be subjected to Australia’s rigorous export control regulations’.


NEGOTIATIONS between Australia and Hong Kong on a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) are looking to permanently lock in zero tariffs on agriculture exports to Hong Kong

This is the type of outcome Australian meat, livestock, seafood and wine producers have been hoping for. Minister for Agriculture David Littleproud said the Australia–Hong Kong FTA would lock in those zero tariffs and support a $1.4 billion agricultural trade relationship.

“The Coalition Government is delivering new markets and better tariffs for our farmers,” Mr Littleproud said. “Zero tariffs for our agriculture exports to Hong Kong means we can keep exporting the high-quality produce we are known for.  

“Meat, livestock, seafood and wine are some of our most valuable exports and we can now provide certainty to these industries. 

“This FTA recognises our reputation as a supplier of clean, green world-class produce. It is also proof of the strong agricultural relationship between Hong Kong and Australia,” he said.

“Hong Kong is also a major gateway to the rest of East Asia and gives our farmers a way to tap into other markets.”

Mr Littleproud said Australian agriculture continued to benefit from FTAs signed with China (ChAFTA), Korea (KAFTA), Japan (JAEPA) and Peru (PAFTA) and will be a key beneficiary from the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP-11).


By Patrick McCarthy >>

TURN ON THE NEWS, and the controversy is scarcely avoidable: Everyone, it seems, has an opinion on tariffs.

Proponents say they’re a necessary corrective to existing policies that, by protecting markets in one country, unfairly harm those in another. Opponents say that, even as a countermeasure, tariffs worsen the problem they purport to solve, by raising prices, hobbling industry and destroying jobs.

In one of the most famous examples, the United States in 1930 raised tariffs on 20,000 imported goods, triggering retaliatory duties from other countries. In the ensuing trade war, US exports and imports fell by more than half, exacerbating the Great Depression. 

This year, the US implemented tariffs on thousands of imported goods from China, triggering an immediate retaliation with taxes implemented against a similar amount of imports from the US.

Although Australia is exempt from these tariffs, it threatens Australia’s role in the supply chain for those imports while presenting significant volatility in global trade policy. Local businesses with global operations must assess their supply chains and develop strategies to ensure they can be nimble to further political disruption. 

With the advent of digital procurement networks, businesses can soften the financial blow associated with tariffs — and sometimes avoid it altogether. By opening up visibility into the interconnected operations of millions of buyers and suppliers, digital networks enable businesses to anticipate bottlenecks in the supply chain — whether caused by tariffs, weather, labour unrest or even war — and work around them long before they dent an income statement.

This newfound transparency also helps to gauge other risk factors ranging from financial and operational to legal and reputational. Aided by artificial intelligence, cloud-based networks help businesses to assemble — and, when necessary, reassemble — the most efficient, cost-effective, risk-managed supply chain possible out of countless permutations and combinations.

In many cases, a digital network can help to navigate a trade barrier by proposing alternate sources that satisfy all of a business’ requirements yet may have been previously unknown.

While certain direct materials, such as the rare-earth metals used to manufacture smartphones, originate almost exclusively from a particular part of the world, most derive from multiple sources and benefit from cross-border competition. By providing access to alternate sources, digital networks effectively lower the barriers imposed by tariffs — barriers that many businesses of an earlier era would have found insurmountable.

At a time when trade wars can gather pace almost as suddenly as a typhoon or tornado, businesses need to ensure their supply chain remains nimble ahead of any eventuality.

Only a cloud-based procurement network can draw meaningful, instantaneous insights out of the sprawling troves of operational data that trading partners rely on to forecast shifts in the supply chain.

In fact, digital networks extend the competitive advantage of their participants amid times of relative tension or calm in global trade. That’s because tariffs, while challenging for policymakers and procurement professionals alike, are temporary.

The uncertainty they evoke, just as other risk factors do, is ever-present. Managing that uncertainty is where procurement leaders lend greatest expertise to their organisations.


Patrick McCarthy is senior vice president and general manager of SAP Ariba, regarded as the world’s largest business network, linking together buyers and suppliers from 3.4 million companies in 190 countries.

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