Future free trade agreements (FTAs) should do more to address the trade barriers facing Australia’s small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), according to a recent parliamentary inquiry.

The federal parliamentary inquiry into access to FTAs by SMEs heard from around 150 businesses and industry groups from across Australia.

The inquiry’s findings have now been released in its report, From little things big things grow: Supporting Australian SMEs go global.

The report makes 10 recommendations to improve trade outcomes for smaller businesses.

Key recommendations include:

  • future FTAs should include specific chapters or obligations regarding SMEs
  • SMEs should have better access to professional advice on how to protect their intellectual property when entering foreign markets
  • the Australian Government should trial regional business clusters that would collaborate to pursue export opportunities
  • access to trade-related services provided by different federal agencies should be made simpler and easier
  • future FTAs should embrace ecommerce, and governments should focus on building the digital and technological capacity of SMEs.

Many of the federal inquiry’s recommendations are consistent with initiatives already being implemented in Queensland as part of the Queensland Trade and Investment Strategy 2017–2022.

For example, Strategy initiatives in Queensland are already addressing:

The federal inquiry received more than 40 written submissions and held public hearings across Australia, including in Brisbane and Townsville and on the Sunshine Coast.

See our workshops page for more information on training for SMEs rolling out across regional Queensland this month.