How can entrepreneurs make the most of Australian opportunity?

Paul Stowers, head of regions for the North West at the Department for International Trade (DIT), explores the breadth of opportunity for exporters heading down under.

Australia is proving its reputation as the ‘lucky country’ for scores of businesses across the UK getting a big break on their exporting journey.

With almost three decades of sustained economic growth and a high disposable income per head, it offers a wide range of opportunities for UK companies.

It’s easy to see why Australia and the UK enjoy such a prosperous trading relationship. Australia is English speaking, has a similar legal system to the UK and there are many common business practices too, including intellectual property protection.

Relationship runs deep

The fact that there are an estimated 1.3 million Brits living in Australia is a telling indicator of the similarities between the two markets.

The UK’s bilateral trading relationship was worth £405million in 2017, up from £352million in 2016, with UK exports to Australia totalling £10.8bn.

Investment from Australia and New Zealand into the UK over the last tax year created almost 2,500 new jobs. This close partnership seems destined to continue as the UK leaves the European Union, with both countries expressing commitment to a future free-trade agreement.

Connecting with customers

There is no denying that selling to Australia also comes with practical challenges: there are more than 10,000 miles between the North West and Australia’s populous east coast, and a nine-hour time difference to match.

But the internet has made direct sales and exports to Australian companies and consumers far simpler; sometimes eliminating the need for setting up licensing or using local distributors.

Strategic support

DIT has a wealth of experience when it comes to advising on all aspects of e-exporting, as Middleton gasket and seal manufacturer JA Harrison knows all too well.

The company already had offices in Perth, Western Australia, where it had established a strong presence supplying the energy and mining sectors.

With DIT’s support, the firm has now opened a state-of-the-art £2.8 million factory in Oldham, speeding up the manufacturing process and enabling it to fulfil orders even more quickly.

DIT also advised the company on its digital strategy to boost its visibility to overseas customers. This change has been crucial for the business as customers now expect almost instantaneous fulfilment of online orders, even when they’re placed from halfway across the world.

Managing director Keith Shepherd said: “Our International Trade Adviser has helped with the rebranding of our business and website which has strengthened the perception of our brand abroad.

“Thanks to DIT’s assistance, we are now standing on our own two feet abroad for the first time. If we can do it, others can too.”

Introductions and insight

DIT advises businesses on the best tactics for entering the Australian market, including identifying possible business partners, as well as providing competitor analysis and flagging any potential regulatory issues.

DIT also has a network of staff in Australia who can provide support during visits, make introductions and give the kind of informed insight that only a local can.

Businesses in that are thinking about trading in Australia, or any other country for that matter, are encouraged to get in touch with DIT to seek advice and support.


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