FARMERS thinking about going it alone in search of export markets could be eligible for some free export market research assistance under Austrade's New Exporter Development Program.
The aim of the NEDP is to double the number of Australian companies exporting by 2006 or maximise the number of companies involved in sustainable international business.
Four per cent of Australian companies (28,000) were exporters contributing $153 billion to the economy, the majority of this income derived from mining.
One fifth of Australia's exporters were based outside the metropolitan area while exports were at 20pc of GDP - double what it was 20 years ago.
The in-market research provided free to NEDP participants included advice on export procedures and planning, selection and assessment of initial markets as well as provision of specific market opportunities.
Intensive visit programs by overseas staff to provide one-on-one export market counselling with co-ordination of export services and market visits were also included.
Up to five overseas market contacts specific to client needs were also provided during a market visit.
Eligibility for the program requires a 12-month business track record, an ABN, no recurrent export revenue in the past three years. There is a turnover requirement of between $300,000 to $2 million.
A participating NEDP company also had to provide a commitment to travel to follow up market research. Beneficiaries of previous "export programs" were precluded.
Austrade acting State manager Madeleine Stringer, a guest speaker at the Hall Damara field day, said statistics showed exporters had a positive effect in the Australian workplace.
She said exporters paid better wages than non-exporters and that on average exporters provided more full-time jobs and more permanent jobs than non-exporters.
Meanwhile exporters on average provided more training to employees than non-exporters and were also more likely to use external consultants and plan for the future.
She said Austrade was represented in 109 cities in 61 countries with 33pc of resources focused in Asia.
Ms Stringer said the Export Market Development Grants Scheme was an avenue by which exporters could have part of their export marketing expenses reimbursed. She said there was no longer State assistance in this area.