The Hon. J.S.L. DAWKINS (14:34): My question is directed to the Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment. Will the minister provide an update to the council about assistance for South Australian exporters?
The Hon. D.W. RIDGWAY (Minister for Trade and Investment) (14:34): I thank the honourable member for his ongoing interest in exports. The Marshall Liberal government is committed to supporting South Australian exporters to get through this coronavirus crisis and come back stronger than before. It is for this reason we have established the Export Recovery Taskforce. We worked with industry to load up two Singapore Airlines flights full of produce. The second left this morning.
Now I am pleased to announce a new support program of some $500,000 to assist small and medium businesses to begin exporting via e-commerce. The e-commerce accelerator program—or ECAP, as it has been named—will provide exporters with grant funding of up to $10,000 to establish or further an online presence and sell their products to the world. There has never been a more important time to begin pivoting business operations to the digital and online world.
Online shopping in Australia has been growing at 14.3 per cent over the past five years and is forecast to grow at 7.8 per cent per annum to reach some $34½ billion by 2023-24. In 2017-18, there were 2,557 local companies who exported and 59 per cent of those were small businesses.
The COVID-19 pandemic has seen travel and face-to-face business come to a halt, and the existing channels through brick and mortar stores have been disrupted. Many customers have increased their online purchases, exposing South Australian businesses that are reliant on local markets. Currently, it is estimated there are some 8,600 businesses in South Australia with the potential to export, including 1,500 wholesalers who could access the program and embrace e-commerce opportunities. Our government is creating an environment to support and encourage these businesses to adopt e-commerce.
The grant funding can be used to start a wide range of activities designed to get a business online. This could include commissioning a digital marketing plan, consultation around online channel selection, purchasing ICT equipment or purchasing digital advertising. Additionally, any training to assist with developing e-commerce capability and begin selling online is eligible for funding. I urge any business that has considered exporting through online channels to head online to the DTI website for further information. The opportunity to embrace broader markets through e-commerce will only continue to grow. Together we can begin shifting our focus to online and digital sales and come back stronger than before.