Greg Keith, Grant Thornton CEO, noted that mid-size Australian businesses exporting to China will now be able to confidently invest in growing new markets as a result of the agreement, whilst simultaneously creating new jobs locally.
“ChAFTA has significant potential for job generation as Australian mid-size businesses grow. Legislation provides confidence for ongoing investment into Asian expansion strategies and driving business confidence across the country,” said Mr Keith.
“This is the perfect time for Australian mid-size businesses to develop their Asian growth strategies,” he added.
Describing mid-size businesses as the “engine room of the economy”, Mr Keith urged the government to appoint a minister for mid-size business to support the sector.
“Despite representing a combined economy larger than Queensland and employing more than 3.7 million people in Australia, the interests of mid-size business are not represented,” he said.
“Now more than ever is the time to appoint a minister for mid-size business,” Mr Keith added.
While the total implementation of ChAFTA tariff reduction commitments will take up to 15 years on some products, according to Grant Thornton, Mr Keith praised Australia for attempting to catch up to its regional neighbours.
“We’re closing the gap on competitors like New Zealand who implemented its agreement in 2008, and now has 97 per cent of its products enter duty free.
“Take New Zealand beef, for example, which already enters the China market duty free. The significance of legislating ChAFTA by December will mean that Australian beef producers will make a start on its tariff reduction journey, catching up to New Zealand’s tariff-free beef in 2024,” Mr Keith concluded.
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