Australian business organisations offered government funds to assist SMEs into Asia

Will Australian-based business organisations use government funds to push in to Asia to compete with local Australian organisations such as Chambers of Commerce and Business Councils?

The Australian government intends to offer grants ranging from $25,000 to $300,000 to “assist member-based business organisations harness commercial opportunities in Asia for small to medium sized Australian businesses”.

The Asian Century Business Engagement (ACBE) plan is a four-year program that will run from 1 July 2013. Final guidelines have not yet been released but the key goals are to expand the capability of the business groups to
  • assist Australian firms access in-market business networks more effectively and develop relationships with business contacts in Asian countries;
  • identify and secure more opportunities for Australian firms in regional value chains in Asia;
  • strengthen business links between Australia and Asia;
  • influence corporate Australia to initiate closer engagement with Asia;
  • raise the profile of Australian business capability in Asia; and,
  • increase awareness of Australia in Asia, and of Asia in Australia.
According to draft guidelines, Australian-based organisations will be permitted to sub-contract to  foreign member-based organisations to deliver approved programs.

However, eligible participants may also be, in their own right, “Australian business chambers based in Asian cities [which are] appropriately registered with local business authorities and provide a letter from the relevant Australian diplomatic or consular mission confirming that the organisation in question is actively involved in promoting networking and business promotion among Australian members and local companies.”