More exporters will be able to access bigger grants through the Export Markets Development Grants scheme under a future Labor government, opposition trade spokesman Simon Crean announced today.
Launching Labor’s trade policy in a speech to the Australian Institute of Export today, Crean said if elected Labor will:
- Expand funding for the scheme by $50 million in 2009-10, lifting total funding from its current $150 million per year to $200 million.
- Lift the maximum revenue threshold for businesses eligible to receive grants under the scheme from $30 million to $50 million.
- Raise the maximum grant amount for exporters from $50,000 to $200,000.
- A $5000 cut in the minimum spending threshold to $10,000.
- A single company will be able to receive eight grants, up from the present seven.
Crean also announced that a Labor government would conduct a review into the Export Markets Development Grants scheme that would canvass issues including ways to increase access to the scheme by small businesses and increasing assistance to the exporting services sector.
“Labor’s plan will address the slide in export growth rates which, despite the ongoing resources boom, have fallen to half of where they were a decade ago,” Crean says.
If implemented, Labor’s changes could provide a big boost to exporters, according to Greg Robson, the managing director of export consultancy Export Grant Solutions.
“A lot of exporters are suffering with the exchange rate where it is at the moment, so more money for grants will help. Increasing the $30 million revenue cap will also make a big difference. That has been excluding a lot of successful exporters and the ones who are really exporting sustainably,” Robson says.
The increase in finding will reassure exporters that there will be enough to ensure they will be able to receive the full grant they are entitled to in reimbursement of their export marketing spending, Robson says.
“A lift in funding was needed to maintain the integrity of the scheme – the $150 million per year funding was capped some 10 years ago and it hasn’t moved since, so in real terms it is basically worth half of what it was 10 years ago,” he says.
The Coalition launched its trade policy earlier in the campaign. Trade Minister Warren Truss committed an extra $45 million in new funding to promote trade but did not make any promises in relation to the Export Markets Development Grants scheme.