Exporters bank on China

Exposure to the fast growing economies of countries like China and India is helping to shield Australian exporters from local and global economic wobbles, a new business survey shows.

While rising interest rates, the credit squeeze and soaring fuel prices are hitting many domestic businesses, the 2008 DHL export barometer reveal a more bullish outlook among Australian exporters.

Of more than 600 exporters surveyed, 60% say they expect to increase orders over the next year, lifting to 64% among small and medium sized businesses.

Almost 60% of exporters report optimism about their profitability over the next 12 months, while 46% plan to lift staff numbers to cope with increased business.

Austrade chief economist Tim Harcourt says the continuing strong growth of developing economies around the world is maintaining strong conditions for exporters.

The volume of exports to China and India will grow faster than any other country, according to the DHL barometer, with 62% saying they will increase orders to China and 61% to India.

By contrast, only around 50% of businesses surveyed said they expect to increase exports to North America or Europe this year.

“The DHL export barometer’s findings support new research from the Reserve Bank on the importance of China and India to Australia – especially in resources and education exports,” Harcourt says.

But it’s not all good news for exporters, with many reporting the strong performance of the Australia currency this year has posed a particular problem.

Over 65% of exporters say the strong Australia dollar is hurting them, significantly up from 50% in last year’s survey. “They’re hurting, but they are hanging in there,” Harcourt says.


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