THE Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman, Kate Carnell welcomed the Joint Standing Committee report on access to Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) by small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and urged bi-partisan support for key recommendations.
“The proposed centralised ‘single trade window’ of resources would help SMEs to tap into some of our largest trading markets,” Ms Carnell said.
“There are a number of FTAs and each has different requirements, paperwork and processes, which can be quite daunting to an SME owner, particularly smaller businesses.
“We support the continued use of specific SME chapters in FTAs, including an e-commerce focus, and encourage additional SME user-friendly guidance and support for stepping into the business of exporting.
“Despite our existing trade partnerships and the new partnerships with 10 countries through the Trans Pacific Partnership, SMEs have not experienced the same growth in exports as has big business.
“This report acknowledges that Australia has so much to offer in the exporting of goods and services by SMEs.
“Recommendations around reducing the complexity of overlapping FTAs and trialling a grant program in regional areas will open up doors for trade and investment, and new growth opportunities.
“By realising the key recommendation in this report, SMEs would be in a better position to weigh up their options and potentially chart a way forward for their business overseas.
“The review of Export Market Development Grants and the role of Efic is also welcomed as access to adequate finance for exporting SMEs remains a significant issue.
“The signing of the landmark FTA with Indonesia today will provide many more opportunities for Australian SMEs.”
THE Australian Retailers Association (ARA) has commended Western Australia’s (WA) State Government on their efforts to approve an additional four hours of trading for general retail shops situated within the Perth metropolitan area, for both the Labour Day and Easter Monday public holidays.
The announcement made by the State Government means that larger retail shops will now have the opportunity to trade any time between 8am until 6pm on Labour Day and Easter Monday, instead of the previous 11am to 5pm trading hours.
Russell Zimmerman, executive director of the ARA said the decision put forth by the WA State Government is a positive step towards creating a level playing field for retailers who are competing in a 24/7 marketplace.
“We now live in an age where everything is so readily available and with online retailers offering the convenience of around the clock purchasing of products and services, customers have the option shop to whenever and wherever,” Mr Zimmerman said.
“While this is convenient choice for consumers, it is placing an immense amount of pressure on local retailers’ capacity to compete in the highly saturated retail market. Therefore, the decision made by the State Government should provide some relief for WA retailers and offer them the chance to compete alongside their competitors which should assist in reducing the strain.”
As the retail industry employs more than 1.2 million people, the ARA believe the extended trading hours will greatly benefit retail staff, as retail employers will now have the option to roster extra staff on these public holidays.
“With public holidays such as Easter being a busy time for retailers, employers will be looking to roster or hire extra staff to work during this period to accommodate for the rush of customers who will be preparing for the celebrations,” Mr Zimmerman said.
“As the number of jobseekers in Australia continues to increase, the extended trading hours put in place by the State Government will provide these prospects with the opportunity to earn extra wages if they so please.”
With the latest December retail trade figures recorded by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) indicating that WA had recorded a 1.23 percent year-on-year growth, its strongest since July 2017, the ARA believes the extended trading hours will be a positive contribution to retail trade and assist in strengthening the retail industry.
“The December trade figures produced some commendable results for year-on-year growth across the States and Territories and WA was one of the States that showed improvement throughout 2018,” Mr Zimmerman said.
“The decision made by the WA State Government is a promising lead for retail trade in 2019 and should alleviate some of the pressure on retailers operating within the metropolitan region and stimulate the overall local WA economy.
"The ARA would like to formally thank the WA State Government on their decision and encourage them consider reviewing trading hours across the whole year."
About the Australian Retailers Association:
Founded in 1903, the Australian Retailers Association (ARA) is Australia’s largest retail association, representing the country’s $310 billion sector, which employs more than 1.2 million people. As Australia’s leading retail peak industry body, the ARA is a strong pro-active advocate for Australian retail and works to ensure retail success by informing, protecting, advocating, educating and saving money for its 7,800 independent and national retail members throughout Australia. For more information, visit www.retail.org.au or call 1300 368 041.
THE Queensland Resources Council will meet with the Palaszczuk Government next week in a bid to arrest the further decline in the State’s attractiveness for resource investment.
QRC chief executive Ian Macfarlane said the Canadian-based Fraser Institute global survey of mining companies found Queensland’s investment attractiveness fell from 12th to 13th of 83 jurisdictions around the world.
“It means Queensland is becoming less attractive for mining companies when they decide to invest. The world is watching,” he said.
“For Queenslanders, the less attractive we are for new investment is the less potential to create jobs, grow exports and earn royalties to pay for services and infrastructure. A strong resources sector is a strong foundation for the quality of life for Queenslanders.”
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk told the QRC annual lunch in November last year that her government would work with the QRC to promote existing initiatives and explore new opportunities to:
- expand the availability of land for mineral and energy resource exploration and development;
- strengthen our export partnerships, create new resource export markets and increase development of advanced manufacturing and renewable energy in Queensland;
- identify and develop the skills and training needed for our resources industry and opportunities for diversity of employment by increasing the number of women and Indigenous Queenslanders in the industry.
Mr Macfarlane said QRC would meet with the government, including Trade and Investment Queensland, "to ensure we redouble our combined efforts to sell a strong Queensland message".
“Now is not the time for mixed messages on resources. We need to speak with one voice — we want the investment to deliver the energy mix, infrastructure, advanced manufacturing and expansion of renewable energy, electric vehicles and batteries around the globe,” he said.
“These survey results are a further warning that a number of projects in an estimated $70 billion of resource projects might not proceed. These projects take many years to get to a final investment decision.”
Mr Macfarlane said while the Fraser Institute survey found Queensland was 12th for mineral potential, it was marked down for uncertainty for environmental regulation (49th), regulatory duplication and inconsistency (48th), and uncertainty concerning the administration, interpretation and enforcement of existing regulation (39th).
The Queensland resources industry supports more than 316,000 jobs across Queensland or the equivalent of one in eight in the state’s workforce, according to the QRC.
The sector also contributed more than $62 billion of the State’s gross domestic product or the equivalent of one in every six dollars, as well as more than 80 percent of the state’s exports with overseas sales of Queensland coal, metal and petroleum increasing to more than $60 billion, propelling Queensland exports to a record $81 billion in 2018.