Budget 2019: $61 million for SME exports but no action on onerous grant process

expand business overseas

The Shanghai skyline.

The government is looking to back SMEs exporting overseas ahead of the election, proposing $61 million over three years to help businesses get the word out about their products.

Announced in Treasurer Josh Frydenberg’s 2019-20 budget on Tuesday, the government has proposed $60 million for grants that would boost SME exports and a further $1 million in 2019-20 for promoting Australian industry overseas.

Frydenberg said the measures would allow SMEs to capitalise on opportunities created by a raft of free trade agreements signed recently.

“Businesses are also benefitting from the free trade agreements the government has secured,” he said.

“China, Japan, Korea, the Trans-Pacific Partnership and now Indonesia.”

According to the government, the grants will “boost reimbursement levels of eligible export marketing expenditure”.

The budget papers didn’t go into detail about what promoting Australian industries overseas would involve.

There would be $21 million in funding available under the proposed grant program each year through to 2021-22, administered under the Australian Trade and Investment Commission.

In other export-related budget details, $3.9 million was proposed to establish an Australian Trade and Defence Office in Israel, which would look to “maximising research and development and export opportunities” for Australian businesses.

There were, however, no measures outlined in the budget to deal with concern among SMEs that government grant programs are inaccessible and too onerous to apply for.

Business owners, small business ombudsman Kate Carnell and Council of Small Businesses of Australia chief executive Peter Strong have called for a more effective Commonwealth grants scheme in recent months.

Business owners have previously told SmartCompany grant schemes can take days to apply for and take too long to deliver funding certainty.

NOW READ: A state-by-state guide to all the government grants available for your small business

NOW READ: Budget 2019 wrap up: Small business gets write-off increase but misses out on energy price relief

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Thomas Mitchell
Thomas Mitchell
1 year ago

Austrade is useless. EMDG is not well thought out.

Austrade focuses a lot of getting foreign investment which I see as selling out Australia even more. Not enough direct help.

Get id of the top management , this department is decades overdue for better thinking.

I have exported to 35 countries. This May exports in my SME will be > $100K

See what we need that Taiwan has.

Taitra youtube, about 4 times the views of Austrade and was put up later. Subscribe to their newsletters and Austrade has nothing like it. We need it. Once you get a few newsletters you will understand how we are shortchanged by Austrade. WE are not getting value for money.

I have been an exporter almost from day 1 when I started 26+ years ago, this country is so backward in helping exporters.