Australia is not really a “self reliant economy” and needs to rely on exports to boost its economy. This is why Australian Government has spent considerable amount of investments in boosting Australia’s export opportunities – and diversifying products and services available for export.
Is Australia only exporting primary goods such as resources and agriculture?
This not true, although, they still represent significant proportion of Australia’s export economy. Natural resources which include coal, iron ore, oil & gas, even uranium are in demand.
In terms of agricultural produces, wheat, cotton and cattle are some of the sectors in demand from Australian suppliers.
In addition, seafood is also a major export sector including abalone, lobsters, fish and prawns.
Some immigrants have operated successful export agencies, especially if they have strong connections and distribution channels in Asia already established.
For many Australian suppliers, especially small to medium sized enterprises, finding and setting up distribution channels are very difficult for them, and therefore, they welcome opportunities to work with export agents or distributors based in Australia and facilitate with them to open up new markets.
Apart from primary produces and natural resources, what other sectors is Australia good at?
There are many sectors in Australia that I believe have been overlooked, both by Australians and international business communities. Australia has several key advantages comparing to other major western economies.
First: Australia is a multicultural society, the most recent statistics shows that there are more than 150 ethnic communities based in Australia, literally covering every nation in the world.
Second: Australia is a multilingual society, which means you can source multilingual professionals locally instead of finding them overseas.
Third: Its location, its geographical location is a distinctive advantage, it is very close to Asia and this means significant savings in transportation costs.
One good example is natural resources, South America is another major destination for base metals and precious metals, but because of the long distance from Asia, transportation cost can be 2 or 3 times more, which makes Australian exports more favourable from Asian buyers.
Fourth: Australia is a stable country, which is primary reason why it ranks along with Canada as the 2 most favourable markets for natural resources. The political and soverign risks in Africa and South America are simply too high for many importers.
Let us look at some sectors that you should consider if you are looking to export:
1. Wine Sector
Australia has beautiful wines, it produces top quality red and white wines, and its quality is comparable to those in France. Price wise, Australian wines are regarded as mid to high range wines, although it does have some premium wines, which are mainly for collectors with limited stocks available.
In terms of the wine regions, NSW, SA, VIC and WA are all wine producing regions in Australia, with each region representing different taste and unique characteristics. If you are looking for exporting opportunities, this is a good opportunuiy to consider, you can approach small to medium sized vineyards, many of are looking for exporting opportunities, but considered too small for large major global distribution companies.
Depending on your distribution channels, each market has different demands, but generally speaking, Australian red wines are in good demand in most Asian markets, and its fair pricing range make them as an attractive option to the more preimum wines from Europe. While wines are also in increasing demand, especially from ladies, and also in Japan and some parts of China to compliment seafood.
2. Healthcare Sectors
This is a sector often overlooked, Australia is actually a global leader in many healthcare related sectors, including e-health, which Australia leads the world in terms of documentation management systems, and has developed products that allow users and professionals to transfer files and review files over Internet. This is a great opportunity for potential exporters to distibute them in new emerging markets especially China and SE Asia, which are embracing new technologies to improve their health systems to reduce man-made errors.
Other health related sectors including other medical devices, which can be exported relatively easily compared to pharmaceutical / prescription based drugs. There are many successful Australian medical devices such as ResMed which is for sleeping apanea (sleeping disorder related diseases), Cochelear which develops world’s most advanced bionics hearing aid implant, Ventractor which develops artificial heart assistance device. There are the big names in global industry, and there are thousands more companies in Australia developing both diagnostics and treatment medical devices.
Exporting is only slowling taking off in Australia for the medical devices sector, and we believe this is an unique opportunity for companies in Asia, as Asia is fast becoming the world’s largest healthcare market including medical devices.
Education is one of the top 10 industries in Australia, it is a multibillion dollar exporting industry with over 100,000 overseas students arriving in Australia each year, and this number has been growing steadily despite of the rising Australian dollar and global finacial crisis. At this moment, students from mainland China and India contribute to more than 50% of the total students, with others from Europe, South America and SE Asia.
In terms of exporting opportunities, there are several ways to participate in this fast-growing industry.
a) You can be an education consultant / agent, and assist overseas students to choose schools in Australia, in return, you will receive fees from educational institutions on placement basis.
b) There is a growing trend for Australian education institutions opening up overseas campus, you can assist them in terms of marketing and operation and invite local students to enrol into Australian universities or other institutes overseas.
c) English learning is a major business in Australia as well with thousands of students mainly from Asia and Europe arriving each year, some on short-term stay which often refer as “vacation English classes”, they will spend 3 to 6 months to study English. You can partner with English Colleges in Australia and assist these students.
d) Another interesting sector is for coaching and primary school to high school students – there has been increasing number of Australian coaching systems, both for English and Mathematics, some of these courses have already been exported ovesears either as curriculums (in books or as software) or as franchises setting up new coaching centers in overseas markets.
As one ofthe most franchised nations in the world, Australia currently has more than 1,000 franchises according to our research, it can be as high as 1500 some have said. Most of these franchises are Australian franchises, and there is quite a few already expanding into international markets such as Gloria Jeans, Jamaica Blue and a property agents which have established successful international franchises.
For exporting opportunities, a good way to do it is through Country Master Franchise, where you can purchase the territory franchise, and any new franchises opening in that country will be under your franchise, this means you can grow your business substantially and entitle to a proportion of their revenue. This is a more expensive investment, but can result in very good investment return.
5. Organic Food & Health Food
Australia is now a leading producer in organic food and health food, and this has opened new exporting opportunities. Organic food has been in increasing demand over past few years, because of the clean environment, Australian organic food, particularly organic baby food are in constant demand from Asia and North America. Tasmania, also known as the Food Produce capital for Australia is known to have produced a variety of organic food, such as baby products, fruit bars, organic fruit juices and organic honey as some good examples, much of these have been exported to Japan already, and Chinese consumers are also now taking up organic food as well.
In terms of health food, which also includes health supplements, is also a growing exporting business, Australian Health Food & Health Supplements are highly regarded internationally, with same level of reputation as in US and Europe. In terms of product range, they include health supplements, health products, health drinks and products relating to cosmetics and skin treatments.
6. Environmental Technologies and Products
Australia is a leading “Green Economy”, the current Government is particularly supportive to the environmental sectors. There are many exporting opportunities, especially to Asian markets. These include Green technology products, some of them are in good demand in China such as water management products, air pollution products, software for engineers. Also specific waste management products and technologies have also been exported to Asia, mainly Taiwan, Hong Kong, Singapore and China.
What Assistances Can you obtain in Australia?
Austrade is a good starting point, you can visit their website or visit their office to obtain information about suppliers, you can then contact the interested exporters / suppliers to request sample products or visit them for more details.
A second assistance is you should consider applying for export grants, these are also available from Austrade, and also individual State export grants are also available depending on the industry. There are also grants available for innovations and technology related products and services. Grants depends on the item you intend to export, and also destinations, the Australian Goverment is currently promoting certain industries, and take wine industry an an example, grants are available both from Federal and State Governments because it is a key industry for several Australian States.
some grants are designed as dollar-for-dollar funding, this means, the Government will pay for your expenses, and this can be quite substantial, you can claim on expenses such as marketing expenses, business trips, exhibitions, and staffing for sales and marketing activities. Other grans are more designed as a lumpsum payment, and this can range from $20,000 to $200,000, or even more, depending on the industry.
There are only limited grants accepted and approved each year, and most grants are only available once or twice for applications – if you wish to apply for a grant, you do need to go through a thorough application process, where your business plans, marketing plans will be assessed in details including many interviews. Nevertheless, it is a good option for those wishing to enter the lucrative exporting market, and there are also business professionals who can assist in prepaaring for the documents for grant application.
The Australian economy has certainly changed considerably last 10 years, it has moved from primarily a commodities / raw materials country to a diversified economy, over time, we foresee more and more opportunities will arise, especially from the “New Economy” sectors such as IT, heathcare and environmental related industries.