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Tuesday, 28 April 1987
Page: 1940

(Question No. 1670)

Senator Morris asked the Minister representing the Minister for Trade, upon notice, on 18 March 1987:

(1) Is the Minister for Trade aware of reports that an Austrade survey of potential Australian exporters showed that over 75 per cent of those surveyed believed that their products could be competitive overseas, that most did not believe that they had all the expertise necessary to sell abroad and that less than 20 per cent had applied for export development grants.

(2) What further steps does the Minister believe can be taken to encourage the growth of exports, in view of the apparent lack of willingness of many Australian companies to take advantage of competitive economic conditions.

Senator Button —The Minister for Trade has provided the following answer to the honourable senator's question:

(1) I am aware of the AUSTRADE survey referred to. The survey was based on questionnaires distributed at seminars for new exporters held in all Australian capitals during February 1987. The seminars were conducted by the Australian Trade Commission.

(2) The Commission advises that it could not be inferred from responses to the questionnaire that there is a lack of willingness among seminar participants to engage in export. Indeed their very attendance at the seminars indicates that the companies concerned want to seriously address the possibility of exporting and some 45% of attendees have already begun exporting.

The Honourable Senator is of course correct in suggesting that the Government ought to do all within its power to encourage more companies into export. This is a major objective of the National Export Drive which the Prime Minister announced in June 1986. Accordingly, the Australian Trade Commission, which is responsible for administering the Drive, has in recent months carried out an extensive program of individual contacts with senior private sector management. It is also running a major seminar program both for new and established exporters. The aim of these and other programs is to ensure that all Australian companies are alive to the urgent need for increased export and that for a variety of reasons, including increased price competitiveness, they are well placed to achieve this objective.