Engineers Australia is the peak body for engineering practitioners in Australia. It is the largest and most diverse engineering association in Australia with 76,000 members.

Engineers Australia believes that the objective of EMDG scheme “to bring benefit to Australia by creation, development and expansion of foreign markets for Australian goods, services, intellectual property and know how” is being successfully met.

The scheme should be extended for a minimum of five years to enable exporters to plan with the confidence that their entitlements under the scheme are protected for a fixed period.

The service sector is about 40 to 60 percent of GDP and employment for developing economies and 60 to 80 percent for developed economies.[1]

Service exports accounted for 20 percent of Australia’s total exports, or $31.2 billion in 2001. Four out of every five Australian workers are employed in services industries, many of which have an export focus. Since the mid-1980s, Australia’s services exports have grown more rapidly than agriculture, mining and manufacturing exports.[2] It currently accounts for around three-quarters of gross domestic product.

Currently the scheme provides 21% of grants to the service industry. Given the value of services trade to the Australian economy the EMDG scheme should aim to increase the proportion of EMDG recipients from service industries.

Exporters directly benefit Australian workers and their families. According to a study by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) exporters are good employers. They pay better and are more committed to occupational health and safety than non-exporters, and provide a higher proportion of full-time and permanent jobs. This reflects the tendency of exporters to be more dynamic and innovative than non-exporters because of the challenges of international competition.

The review of the EMDG scheme should recommend that the scheme continue and the $150 million per year cap should be reconsidered. The Scheme should be given greater scope to grow to allow Australian companies to be supported in meeting emerging export opportunities.

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[1] Hardin, A. and Holmes, L. (1997), Services Trade and Foreign Direct Investment, Industry Commission Staff Research Paper. AGPS, Canberra.

[2] Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Fact Sheet: The General Agreement on Trade in Services.