Foreword

Australia should be proud of its extraordinary track record as a free trading nation and its demonstrable capacity to conclude free trade agreements (FTAs).
In recent years we have enjoyed an extraordinary run of success in negotiating FTAs with important north Asian trading partners such as China, Japan, Korea, and more recently the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership between 11 countries including new trade partners such as Canada, Mexico and Peru.
While these FTAs have opened a host of new markets for Australian businesses, unfortunately small and medium enterprises (SMEs) have not enjoyed the same growth in exports to FTA markets as large enterprises.
Why is this so? Why have Australian SMEs not leveraged FTAs as much as larger companies and how can they better leverage FTAs in the future?
After 153 submissions and 16 public hearing roundtables across metropolitan and regional areas, I am confident that this report helps answer these questions and that our 10 recommendations are worthy of adoption by the Government.
I thank our Committee Chair Senator Ian Macdonald, my Sub-Committee Deputy Chair Graham Perrett, my fellow committee members and the hard working Secretariat. But most importantly I thank the owners and operators of the wonderful small and medium businesses who generously gave us their time and insight.
Mr Ted O’Brien MP
Chair

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