CQ businesses cashing in on free trade agreements
WITH Australia forging free trade agreements with countries around the world, Central Queensland businesspeople like Rockhampton's Simon Walton are cashing in.
Over the past 10 years, his cutting edge Rockhampton based company Australian Reproductive Technologies has led the way combining leading cattle in vitro fertilisation (IVF) technology with cutting edge technology from established human IVF techniques and now they are spreading their wings into overseas markets.
His company, which currently employs half a dozen locals, is now active in Vietnam, China, Fiji, Botswana and Nigeria with further plans for expansion thanks to the negotiated free trade agreements.
Mr Walton was one of the attendees of November's Free Trade Information Forum hosted by Federal Member for Capricornia Michelle Landry which showed local businesses how to access the benefits of the China, Korea, Japan and Peru free trade agreements.
"I think the Australian government needs to be congratulated on the negotiations they've concluded in free trade agreements with Japan, China, Korea and Peru,” Mr Walton said.
"It certainly eased the way for us to break into some of those export markets.
"A lot of those foreign markets have presented in the past trade barriers through tariffs and easing and removing some of those tariffs have certainly enabled a great expansion of export capabilities into Asia.”
Early in his career, Mr Walton started out working in human reproductive technology before taking what he had learnt and applying it to cattle.
"We were doing human IVF here, we started in 2000 and then once I've identified that beef cattle was perhaps the place where I should be applying advanced cattle reproductive technologies then we went about setting up and investigating what was the latest and greatest technologies around the world.
"When we started our company here (in 2007) we introduced a lot of human IVF technology into what we do and it was the catalyst for us to leapfrog other companies that were around the world for cattle IVF technology and we've gone from strength to strength since then.”
Ms Landry said the government was continually working on those free trade agreements which were creating a lot of opportunities for Central Queensland businesses.
She said in the past the focus had been on exporting tradition agricultural products, but now there was now a diversification to include macadamias, chick peas, crocodile meat as well as educational and technological services such as Mr Walton's IVF business.
"People are very keen to get on board with these programs and expand their businesses more,” Ms Landry said.
"I want to see our area flourish with this and there are a lot of things we can export.
"Education is huge and CQUniversity works very well with a lot of these countries.
"Also our medical facilities as well, Australia is a world leader and it is absolutely amazing the medical technology and one of the things that blows me away is what people can do with 3D printers, they can do a 3D print of a body part that needs to be replaced.”
She said businesses often faced obstacles when trying to break into overseas markets and the best thing a business could do was reach out to Austrade for assistance.
"We have communication problems in some places, we need translators and the laws in other countries are very different at times and that is why it's good to have Austrade on board, they can help you through those negotiations,” Ms Landry said.
"It's not easy but there are rewards at the end of it.”