Finance

Budget 2015: Government splashes $25m on free-trade portal for SMEs, plus $150,000 for each electorate to spend on infrastructure

Eloise Keating /

SMEs will be encouraged to make better use of the free trade agreements the government has signed with China, Japan and South Korea by using an online dashboard that compares tariffs for companies exporting into the countries.

Trade Minister Andrew Robb has secured $25 million in tonight’s budget to build the world-first dashboard and an accompanying roadshow to demonstrate the benefits to Australian small businesses, The Australian reports.

The dashboard, which will be developed by NICTA and housed on the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade website, is expected to allow an exporter to plug in details about their product and its intended destination.

The platform will then calculate the best possible tariff rate under the free trade agreements, as well as provide information about any export quotas or other restrictions that apply to that product.

Australian businesses will also be able to use the platform to compare the tariffs they will pay relative to other countries that do not have free trade agreements in place.

Information about the size of the export markets in those countries and the pace at which they are growing is also expected to be included. Other features may include maps of distribution centres and contact details for potential local buyers and distributors.

The Australian reports Minister Robb is keen to encourage small and medium size exporters to make better use of the free trade agreements, which are typically complex and difficult to navigate.

But exporting SMEs won’t be the only winners in tonight’s budget, with News Corp websites also reporting every electorate across the country will be given a $150,000 cash injection to spend on infrastructure.

Local businesses are likely to benefit from the small capital works that will be funded by the “Stronger communities” program, which will provide $150,000 over two years to each of the country’s 150 electorates at a total cost of $45 million.

It is intended the funds will be spent on small capital projects that would not normally be funded by traditional funding programs from the Commonwealth.

Increased spending on infrastructure was one of the key budget issues identified by SmartCompany readers in a poll earlier this week.

Infrastructure spending was nominated as the second item on SMEs budget wish-list, behind a reduction in red tape, greater flexibility in the workplace relations system and a cut to the company tax rate.

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Eloise Keating

Eloise Keating is the editor of SmartCompany. Previously, Eloise was news editor at Books+Publishing, the trade press for the Australian book industry.

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