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Exporters supply chain conscious

Australian exporters remain confident over the next 12 months, despite the rising Australian dollar and high fuel prices.

The 2007 DHL Export Barometer found with world economic growth at a 30 year high, 69 per cent of exporters expect as increase in orders over the next 12 months.

The Export Barometer ranked Europe as the top export market for the next 12 months, with 65 per cent of exporters expecting increased orders to the region, up from fourth place in 2006, at 54 per cent expecting increased orders.

According to Austrade chief economist Tim Harcourt Australian exporters have developed a Eurovision fascination, with China remaining an old favourite despite the high Australian dollar and fuel prices.

“Australian exporters have moved from being Europhobic to having Eurovision in last the 12 months,” he says. “China and India remain top favourites for Australian exporters, while Japan remains to rank towards the bottom on export confidence, alongside New Zealand, our Pacific neighbours and Taiwan.”

“Despite the renewed focus on Europe, China remains a driver of the global economy and from DHL’s perspective China is the fastest growing export region,” says DHL Oceania strategic development group manager Paul Bellette.

“Exporters are looking for supply chains that are flexible, variable yet offer a variety of service options. One size fits all solutions are becoming less relevant as increasingly exporters require an express solution today and an airfreight solution tomorrow.”

Paul Bellette believes supply chains are starting to offer exporters flexibility, although access to more ‘local’ market export and import information is still paramount.

“The Express Industry has been trying to break down these knowledge barriers and open up this information to all, mainly through technology, and we would like to see this move at an even greater pace of change,” he says.

While infrastructure bottlenecks are an issue for exporters, it is manufacturing and supply chain capacity that are the biggest concerns.

“Over the past three years supply chains have proved an increasing issue for exporters, up from 12 per cent as an area of concern in 2005 to 44 per cent in 2007,” says Paul Bellette.

“Consolidation of suppliers is one way exporters can reduce supply chain inefficiencies and costs.”

Tim Harcourt agrees the main supply-side influence on exporters is manufacturing capacity; a shortage of plant, skilled labour and capital. “This suggests, contrary to popular belief, that demand for Australian manufactured goods is strong,” he says.

External factors impacting negatively on Australian exporters include the ever rising Australian dollar and the high oil/fuel prices.

For agriculture, manufacturing and service exporters the dollar has had more of an adverse affect that on the mining and tourism sector, and although it has squeezed profits, it has not affected the level of investment or expansion plans.

“New markets are constantly being sourced by exporters and they are therefore looking for suppliers that can offer global on the ground coverage,” says Paul Bellette. “Exporters want a supplier that can service the US but also the Ukraine.”

“Probably the biggest change has being the impact of technology and the key here is the internet. It really has taken away the tyranny of distance factor, making global markets more accessible,” he says.

“As a result, exporters are now getting orders from countries they have never exported to and know little about. This is where a global player like DHL with offices in over 220 countries can assist.”

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