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Wednesday, 23 March 1994
Page: 2066

Senator DEVEREUX —My question is directed to the Minister for Science and Small Business. I understand that the minister recently met with the general manager of the export access program, Mr Keith Stubbs, the chairperson of the program, Chris Heysen, and members of the program's management committee. Can the minister provide any information arising from that meeting on the success of that program to date?

Senator SCHACHT —The export access program continues to be successful and is getting more popular all the time. So far, the government has allocated $20 million to the program up till the end of 1995. This will allow 1,400 small or medium sized enterprises to be processed as part of the program. The funding support is for 25 project managers located in industry associations and overseas business offices in St Louis in the United States of America, Osaka in Japan and Amsterdam in the Netherlands.

  On 14 March this year, 485 firms had been accepted at a rate of about 50 to 60 a month. Over 170 firms had finished the program and had been issued with surveys. Evaluation of this important program is vital. We continue to evaluate the success of the program at all phases. The first 107 firms surveyed have shown spectacular results. Eighty-four per cent of those companies have successfully arranged long-term export business. These are ongoing relationships, not one-off contracts.

  One hundred of the firms surveyed had already achieved $7.6 million in export sales and, within three years, they expect sales of $78 million. This is just for the first 100 companies processed out of the 485 firms which have now entered the program. These firms have demonstrated a commitment to exporting. Fifty have appointed agents or distributors, 16 have entered joint ventures and 13 have signed manufacturing under licence agreements. The licensing agreements alone will generate around $2 1/2 million in royalties over the next three years.

  Most of the companies applying for export access have turnovers of between $1 million and $5 million per annum and employ between 10 and 50 staff. Sixty-eight per cent anticipate future job growth, 88 per cent intend to sustain export drive and 100 per cent will apply again to join the program. This is another example of the good relationship that this government has with the small and medium enterprise area of Australian industry, in that a program funded by the Australian government and administered and organised by industry itself has returned very good results.

  These results show that the McKinsey report of last year, which report outlined the need for our SMEs to get into exporting, is being successful. That is why in the last budget the government increased funding by another $30 million as part of a general assistance package to SMEs, including assistance in export access. It is a successful program. The government is very proud to be associated with small and medium enterprises in Australia.