The State Liberals are urging the Weatherill Government to increase its export efforts to China in the wake of the free trade agreement (FTA) signed in Canberra yesterday.
“Australia’s FTA with China represents a significant opportunity for South Australia provided the Weatherill Government is willing to overhaul its ineffective trade related programs,” said State Liberal Leader Steven Marshall.
“Since the 2011-12 State Budget the Labor Government has almost halved its funding for programs designed to increase exports despite the enormous importance of international trade to the South Australian economy.”
In the wake of continual underperformance of the Labor Government’s trade policies the State Liberals developed a comprehensive suite of trade related policies; including;
- Developing seven separate regional trade strategies and pursuing bilateral trade and investment missions to compliment these strategies;
- Establishing the Export Market Access Grants Scheme;
- Implementing the Competitive Grants Program with $2 million of annual funding;
- Committing $200,000 recurrent funding to the Council for International Trade and Commerce SA (CITCSA);
- Launching the South Australian Export Ambassadors Program;
- Establishing an ‘Export Ready’ program to train small businesses in the fundamentals of exporting;
- Providing Education Adelaide with $2 million annually to grow our international student market;
- Increasing funding to Food SA; and,
- Increasing funding to the Regional Development Fund.
“The benefits of the FTA will pass South Australia by if the mistakes of the past aren’t leant from,” said Mr Marshall.
“In 2004 Premier Mike Rann pledged to increase South Australia’s annual exports to $25 billion by 2013 – the eventual figure was $14 billion short of that target.
“The Hartley Review criticised State Labor’s haphazard and ad-hoc approach to the trade portfolio – it’s time for a professional approach to trade.”