News that the China – Australia free trade agreement will be formalised in Canberra today highlights the critical importance of tomorrow’s State Budget including measures to assist South Australian businesses access new international markets, including China.
“The Weatherill Government needs targeted trade programs to halt the fall in the value of the State’s exports and grow new jobs in South Australia,” said Shadow Minister for Investment and Trade Tim Whetstone.
During the last 12 months South Australia’s exports have dropped 7.1 per cent on an annualised basis and fell an alarming 14.8 per cent in April. During the same period unemployment has increased relentlessly.
“Since the 2011-12 Budget, Labor has slashed funding for the main State Government program aimed at boosting exports, from $30 million to $19 million,” Mr Whetstone said.
“Support for export programs have fallen despite the fact the Weatherill Government is nowhere near its target of $18 billion in annual exports by 2017. Indeed, in the last 12 months merchandise exports totalled just $11.43 billion.
“A funding stream to directly assist businesses to export has been slashed to less than half of the annual $1 million originally announced.
“The Weatherill Labor Government is releasing international engagement strategies but is not providing adequate funding for exporters to realise the full potential of their implementation.”
Mr Whetstone said feedback from exporters across South Australia identified that one of the single biggest challenges facing their businesses is financing export endeavours.
“To unlock the full potential of South Australian exporters to create jobs and attract investment, our exporters need adequate support and the coming State Budget must reflect that,” Mr Whetstone said.
“During my visits to export businesses across the state, I am continually hearing that there is insufficient help for South Australian exporters to establish long term overseas markets.”
The 2015/16 State Budget and subsequent trade strategies must recognise the implementation of Free Trade Agreements.
“There are enormous opportunities for South Australian exporters, particularly with the increasing global demand for the type of product SA produces, but our exporters need the necessary tools to unlock their full potential,” Mr Whetstone said.