The federal government intends to change the Export Market Development (EMDG) grants scheme, which would be available to those with revenues under $20 million, shift from reimbursement to grants, and become simpler to apply for.
On Thursday, federal trade minister Simon Birmingham announced the government intended to move payments to SMEs — currently covering up to 50 per cent of promotion costs over $5,000, providing they spent more than $15,000 — from grants to reimbursements while “reducing the administrative burden on exporters whilst still maintaining integrity in the scheme.”
Last October a review of EMDG was announced, headed by Anna Fisher, co-owner of Zontes Footstep.
The government accepted its 10 recommendations in-principle, which “centered on cutting red tape, increasing awareness of the scheme and giving exporters more funding certainty,” said Birmingham.
Over 4,000 SMEs used the program last year. Birmingham said the review found many companies “were overwhelmingly positive” about it, though the reimbursement model “provided a lack of funding certainty” and administrative processes “were too complex.”
Birmingham said, “By shifting away from a reimbursement model to a grants scheme, eligible exporters will now receive funding closer to when they incur costs, giving more confidence that EMDG funding will genuinely boost their international marketing and promotional activities.”
Expenses from a grant year must be claimed “as part of the EMDG application submitted in the financial year immediately following” except for the first application, “which can include expenses from the two previous financial years,” according to Austrade, which administers the scheme.
The Australian Financial Review reports that the changes will also see companies with revenues over $20 million ineligible, down from the current $50 million threshold, and be limited to those who are “export-ready”.
Introduction of legislation is planned for this year, and if successful would take effect July 1 next year.
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