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Press Release: Sydney, Australia, 24 November 2022

  • 70% of export businesses are confident export sales will grow next year – bouncing back from a record low of 47% during the pandemic
  • Businesses have sought ways to diversify supply chains, and exporters are more likely to expect export revenue increases in 2023
  • 79% of businesses agree that free trade agreements are beneficial but raising awareness around FTAs is necessary

The findings of the DHL Export Barometer 2022, released today, show Australian businesses are confident export sales will grow in the coming year. Many have implemented strategies to strengthen their global supply chains amid a fluid trade environment.

Positively, 70% of businesses surveyed expect export orders to grow over the next 12 months, recovering from a record low of 47% in 2020. This year’s confidence level is the second highest since the annual study began in 2003 and above the 63% average. Looking back on the past year, one in two (54%) businesses reported an increase in actual export orders, rebounding from 45% in 2021 and 28% in 2020.

The number of overseas markets businesses are exporting to has also grown in the past year, with the average number rising to 4.5. In the coming year, 48% of businesses intend to enter a new market.

Businesses take steps to diversify supply chains against disruptions

This year Australian businesses continue to face export challenges, with the most pressing issues reported including the cost of freight impacting 64% of businesses, supply chain issues (28%), inflation (19%), and tariffs (18%). With the re-opening of the country’s international borders in February 2022, the number of businesses still impacted by restricted international travel dropped from 43% in 2021 to just 10% at the time of the study.

Exporters took measures to diversify their supply chains over the past year to mitigate supply chain risks. Some of the most common diversification strategies implemented include sourcing from multiple or different suppliers undertaken by 47% of businesses, increasing stock levels (46%), sourcing products or raw materials from alternative markets (30%), and manufacturing or sourcing more domestically within Australia (23%). Attesting to the benefits of diversification strategies, businesses that reported engaging in such actions are more likely to predict an increase in their 2023 export sales revenue.

“Recent global events have highlighted the interconnectedness of supply chains and the critical importance of logistics in ensuring the continuity of trade flows and supply of vital goods. Although pandemic-related export challenges have remained on the scene in 2022, Australian exporters have assessed potential risks to their supply chains and business operations, strategically implementing a range of actions to mitigate disruptions. With 70% of businesses indicating they are confident their export orders will grow in the next year, this signifies the steps taken to diversify supply chains have put them in a strong position for 2023,” said Gary Edstein, CEO and Senior Vice President, DHL Express Australia.

More businesses utilise free trade agreements (FTAs)

With new FTAs coming into effect between Australia and key trade partners since 2020, trade barriers are easing for export businesses. The study shows that 79% are taking advantage of the benefits FTAs have to offer, while 44% concur that the agreements are very important to their operations. These businesses will also likely anticipate growing export revenue in the coming year.

The most popular FTAs utilised by Australian businesses include ASEAN-Australia-New Zealand Free Trade Area (AANZFTA) used by 67% of exporters, China-Australia Free Trade Agreement (ChAFTA) by 61%, and Australia-United States Free Trade Agreement (AUSFTA) by 60%.

Despite the broad industry use of FTAs, many export businesses were unaware that an agreement was in place for their main export market. A quarter (25%) of companies trading with the USA indicated that they were not aware of the existence of AUSFTA, while 21% trading with China did not know about ChAFTA.

“Businesses looking to optimise their international export strategy are encouraged not to overlook the benefits of free trade agreements. Research the agreements Australia has signed with your target market via the Australian government’s FTA Portal, check if the raw materials or manufactured goods you’re trading are included, and the customs documentation needed to satisfy the eligibility criteria for the preferential tariff rate,” Edstein commented.

About the DHL Export Barometer

Since 2003, the DHL Export Barometer has surveyed Australian export businesses on their experiences and strategies for international trade. The 20th edition was conducted by ACA Research, and surveyed 948 businesses from the database of DHL Express Australia between 31 August and 21 September 2022.

The group represents a broad cross-section of the country, with NSW and ACT businesses making up 36% of those surveyed, VIC and TAS businesses 34%, QLD 18%, WA 7%, and SA and NT 5%. Respondents ranged from large companies with more than 100 staff to smaller operations such as small/home office businesses: small office home office (31%), small business (34%), medium business (23%), and large business (12%). By exporting tenure, the majority of study participants have been exporting for 6-20 years (41%), followed by 5 years or less (31%), and more than 20 years (28%).

To view the full report, visit