Australian businesses engaged in import and export say the United States has outstripped China as the leading partner for trade amid mounting anxiety over geopolitical uncertainty.

The survey, conducted before the recent outbreak of violence in the Middle East, found that geopolitical tensions and the need for market diversification were front of mind for Australian traders.

Minister for Trade and Tourism, Senator Don Farrell, will launch the ACCI National Trade Survey today at the National Archives of Australia building in Canberra.

The survey was conducted in partnership with the Australian Centre for International Trade and Investment and supported by ANZ.

ACCI chief executive officer Andrew McKellar said the trade disruptions of recent years have been a wake up call for business.

“The survey findings show that trade diversification is occupying traders, not just policy makers,” Mr McKellar said.

“International market risks are taking a range of forms, from geopolitical risks and supply chain risks to the costs of vital inputs.

“Australian exporting businesses are attuned to this, with almost two-thirds saying that geopolitical tensions are an ongoing concern for their business.

“The survey shows that Australian exporters have taken the initiative in seeking new customers and markets to help manage international market risk, although doing so is not always easy.”

The sixth ACCI National Trade Survey was the first to record the United States as the leading market for Australian traders, ahead of China.

“China has been at the top of the list in all previous ACCI National Trade Surveys. This finding comes against the backdrop of China’s imposition of trade barriers on Australian exports, including barley, wine, coal, lobster and beef,” Mr McKellar said.

“It remains to be seen whether this finding will be repeated as those trade barriers are increasingly being reduced or removed.

“This recent experience has sent a clear message to Australian businesses of the risks of having all our eggs in one basket. Diversification of markets is crucial.”

ACCI has made five recommendations to better equip Australia to manage this complex trade environment, including investing in our domestic productivity, modernising our trade systems and reducing red tape, and fostering partnerships between government, chambers of commerce and industry associations to address the critical barriers to trade and take full advantage of opportunities.

Australian Centre for International Trade and Investment (ACITI) executive director Dr Pru Gordon said the collaboration with ACCI had made a significant contribution.

“The ACCI National Trade Survey is a valuable indicator of the priority issues impacting Australia’s trading companies. ACITI exists to increase awareness of the importance of international trade for Australia and help our businesses and policy makers do it better,” Dr Gordon said.

“Our collaboration with ACCI on this unique study has made a huge contribution to this work.”


Ashley Gardiner

Director - Media and Communications

P: 0262708020

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