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Briefings for New England businesses on export market development grant scheme and free trade agreement opportunities.



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MEDIA RELEASE Senator the Hon Sandy Macdonald Parliamentary Secretary to the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Trade Deputy Leader of The Nationals in the Senate

BRIEFINGS FOR NEW ENGLAND BUSINESSES ON EXPORT MARKET DEVELOPMENT GRANT SCHEME AND FREE TRADE AGREEMENT OPPORTUNITIES

Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Trade, Senator Sandy Macdonald, today announced a series of free briefings for New England businesses that will offer a chance to learn how the Export Market Development Grant (EMDG) scheme can help their business grow internationally, as well as provide an update on the benefits and opportunities for them arising from Australia’s free trade agreements.

“The Australian Government has recently committed a further $30 million dollars to the EMDG scheme to expand assistance available for small to medium sized enterprises,” Senator Macdonald said.

“The Government is also seeking to create new opportunities and improve market access through a range of free trade agreements (FTAs). We already have comprehensive FTAs with the United States, Singapore, Thailand and New Zealand, and are currently in negotiations with China, Malaysia, ASEAN, and the United Arab Emirates, and have started an FTA feasibility study with Japan,” he said.

To be held on Wednesday 17 November, the series includes a breakfast briefing in Tamworth and a lunchtime briefing in Armidale, and will be conducted by Austrade’s NSW State Manager - Grants, Owen Felsman, and Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade Deputy State Director, Deborah George.

Mr Felsman said the EMDG scheme assisted export-focused small and medium sized Australian businesses to enter into export and become sustainable exporters by providing partial reimbursement of certain export promotion expenses.

“In 2004-05, rural and regional businesses received 749 grants valued at more than $21 million from the EMDG scheme,” Mr Felsman said.

“To be eligible, businesses need to have annual income of $30 million or less and incur eligible export expenses of at least $15,000 - or first time applicants can combine two years,” he said.

Ms George said the briefings would inform businesses on the progress of negotiations and demonstrate how to make the best use of these agreements.

“FTAs are an important part of Australia's trade policy. They have the potential to stimulate multilateral liberalisation and reform generally. FTAs also offer the prospect of deeper and faster gains on some issues, opening up new opportunities for Australian exporters and investors,” she said.

What: EMDG information session and free trade agreement update When: Wednesday, 16 November 2005 Cost: No charge to attend RSVP: To register, email viola.naati@austrade.gov.au.

Tamworth - Breakfast Briefing Time: 7.30am to 9am Venue: The Business Centre, Level 1, 307 Peel St

Armidale - Lunchtime briefing Time: 12.30pm to 2pm Venue: Armidale Ex-Services Club, Dumaresq St

Ends ……11 November 2005

Media inquiries: Rachel Kingsford Smith (Senator Macdonald’s office) 0408 019 537 Simon Kelly (Austrade) 0414 062 730