House debates

Tuesday, 1 December 2020



7:34 pm

Photo of Ian GoodenoughIan Goodenough (Moore, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

Australia's exports have performed remarkably well, despite the challenges of the global coronavirus pandemic. Australian Bureau of Statistics figures for October 2020 indicate that exports of goods increased by six per cent, or $1.79 billion, from the revised 2020 estimate of $28.7 billion to $30.53 billion. In particular, exports of metalliferous ores increased by seven per cent, gas exports increased by 18 per cent and exports of meat increased by 21 per cent. Australia exported a record $13.46 billion of metalliferous ores, the majority of which was iron ore, representing 81 per cent, which also reached a record high export value of $10.94 billion for the month. This record mining export value is $658 million higher than the previous record monthly high achieved in June 2020. Similarly, the increase in exports of gas in October is the first month-on-month increase since March 2020, although overall exports of gas have fallen substantially during 2020 as a result of global demand and low prices.

It is fair to say that Australian exporters have been largely responsible for the strength and resilience of the Australian economy as we spearhead the national economic recovery in the wake of the global pandemic, which has devastated economic activity across the world. As a nation that is heavily reliant on international trade, Australia is geographically placed in a unique position within the Indo-Pacific region, which is home to so many emerging economies in our region. Strategically, our future advantage, security and economic prosperity lies in the diversification of our trade and investment relationships with a wide range of nations. Through improved diplomatic relations, trade delegations, international exchanges and foreign aid, Australia can develop better trading and investment relationships with its neighbours.

The coalition government has finalised a range of free trade agreements and strategic economic partnership agreements with many nations in our region, with many other agreements currently in the process of being negotiated. These agreements in themselves do not yield benefits. There's involvement of the private sector in implementing them, which is essential. Governments do not in themselves generate economic development; it is the entrepreneurs of the private sector who create wealth through commerce and trade. Our federal government continues to expand its support for Australian exporters in developing export markets for Australian goods and services overseas, encouraging diversification.

Australia must expand its horizons through expanded diplomatic efforts in the Indo-Pacific region, with regional blocs such as the 10-member nations of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, ASEAN, comprising Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Brunei, Vietnam, Laos, Myanmar and Cambodia. Diversification of our trading relationships promote strategic risk management in view of cyclical economic conditions and geopolitical events. Many nations of the Indo-Pacific region share our democratic values and desire to cooperate on law enforcement and regional security issues.

Australian businesses must be encouraged to further seek export opportunities. Last financial year, the number of Australian businesses exporting increased to 56,772. Most of this increase was in the category of small exporters, which increased by 11 per cent to 34,451 businesses. The majority of Australian merchandise exporters are small businesses, representing 61 per cent of exporters, which, incidentally, contribute only one per cent of the total export value. While only 12 per cent of merchandise exporters are large businesses, they account for 96 per cent of total export value. Of the 56,772 Australian businesses which exported goods last financial year, only 328 firms exported merchandise with a value of over $100 million, which accounted for 86 per cent of the total export value. The typical exporter has two employees, a turnover of $700,000, exported goods valued at— (Time expired)