Asia, Bendigo & Central Vic – the door is open.

Data shows that trade into Asia from regional businesses is already on the up – by some 85 per cent in the last eight years.

Nathan Carkeek

Regional Manager

Central & Northern Victoria


Until you’ve seen it, it’s hard to fully comprehend the size, complexity or sheer opportunity that a foreign market like China presents Australia, and in particular, our regional areas.

It was only late last year that ANZ released the latest edition of the ANZ Opportunity Asia Report, shedding light on the $138 billion revenue potential if Australia’s businesses took the leap they’d been talking about and expanded to Asia.

The same report highlighted that regional Australian businesses could be the catalyst. Citing data that showed trade into Asia from regional businesses is already on the up – by some 85 per cent in the last eight years – far outpacing those from metropolitan-based enterprises – the report pointed out that the majority of Australia’s export growth over the next 10 years would come from regional Australia, with agriculture set to be a key driver.

The report also found that of those in the agri sector already operating in Asia, 75 per cent said they received substantially larger profits from their Asian operations than from their domestic markets.

The significant role of agriculture in our regional prosperity pursuits and national economic mix is backed by the latest figures from the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences (ABARES) which has forecast the value of Australian farm production to hit $63.8 billion (up 8.3 per cent) this financial year. In terms of farm export values, we’re expecting to reach $47.7 billion this financial year (up from $44.6 billion in 2015-16) and potentially higher the following year to $48.7 billion.

Having recently returned from China with a Be.Bendigo delegation, I’m convinced Central Victorian businesses have reason to be optimistic. Spending time in Shanghai, Nanjing, Nantong and Haimen and hearing from Chinese representatives from the other end of the supply chain made it obvious that demand for our products and services is real.

Central Victorian businesses must participate in regional collaboration. By building a combined presence and voice we can become an even more attractive destination for investment and continue to open doors in new markets, not just for agriculture, but other key local economic sectors such as education and tourism. One good example of this is the Toowoomba Surat Basin Enterprise model, which offers greater collaboration and access to market.

The next critical step is to be prepared. The overwhelming message from Australian businesses who’ve visited China and their overseas counterparts is that deep market understanding is essential. Knowledge must extend to government processes, supply chain logistics, consumer behaviour and even the cultural nuances within the individual markets. It’s for this reason many will attest to the need for regular visits and trusted partners.

Understanding this need for preparation, and in an effort to help, ANZ developed Be Trade Ready in conjunction with the Export Council of Australia. The online tool provides data-driven insights on benchmarking, forecasting of revenue and capital requirements, as well as up-to-date market analysis and information on Free Trade Agreements.

Asian market entry can be daunting but the opportunity to grow our local businesses and industries is far too great to ignore, or put in the too hard basket. And with useful resources like Be Trade Ready at our disposal, as well as committed leadership and knowledge from our local community, there’s little doubt we can take a sizeable slice of the $138 billion pie.