Peter Anderson


Three top China challenges faced by Aussie start-ups

4:25AM | Tuesday, 9 April

The business community has welcomed a new direct currency trading deal between Australia and China, but an entrepreneur says there are still key challenges facing Australian start-ups keen to strike partnerships within the economic powerhouse.   Prime Minister Julia Gillard has announced the Australian currency will be directly traded and converted with the Chinese currency.   Under the agreement, the Australian dollar will be directly convertible into Chinese yuan, easing costs for companies.   China only has deals of a similar nature with the United States and Japan. ANZ and Westpac are the first two Australian banks licensed to handle the conversion in China.   The Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry welcomed the move, with chief executive Peter Anderson saying: "Making it easier to do business often involves a myriad of small steps, of which today's announcement is just one, but an important and welcome one."   Speaking at the China Executive Leadership Academy in Shanghai, Gillard said the deal “reflects the rapid growth of our bilateral trade and the value of two-way investment”.   Peter Anderson, chief executive of the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said in a statement the agreement is a boost to exporting businesses.   “Whilst developing commercial and trading relationships in China requires the long-term relationships and business plans, the opportunity for direct currency conversion removes an obstacle,” Anderson said.   “There is potential benefit not just to major resource industry investors, but also small and medium enterprises, such as Australian professional services companies.”   According to Jim Vrondas, OzForex chief currency and payment strategist for the Asia-Pacific, the agreement could save small businesses thousands of dollars in exchange fees every year.   “It would cut costs, due to no longer having two separate conversion fees,” Vrondas said in a statement.   “Savings could be somewhere in excess of 1%, so for an Australian importer sending AUD1 million into CNY [yuan] at the moment, it could be a $10k saving.”   But Dean Ramler, co-founder of online furniture retailer Milan Direct, which uses Chinese manufacturers to replicate European designs, says there are still challenges facing Australian start-ups in China.   Here are Ramler’s top three potential hurdles faced by Aussie start-ups.   Changing working conditions   “Payment conditions have changed in the last five or six years,” Ramler says.   “It used to be a low cost manufacturing base in China but no so anymore. Material costs have gone up, wages have gone up.   “At the same time, the Australian market is seeing new competitors in the market every week.   “Milan Direct was the first online seller of furniture six years ago. Today there might be 100 competitors… The price point is going down but the cost is going up.”   Fewer niche operators   “I think China’s caught onto the fact that anything they make, somebody’s going to buy it,” Ramler says.   “I’ve seen factories that one week are selling timber furniture and the next week they’re making kitchen products… [They] don’t specialise in anything.   “Everyone who quits their day job wants to be an online entrepreneur. They’re starting up online without having any passion for the product and just ordering containers off the internet.   “The big shock comes when the consumers are really smart, and demand amazing products at amazing prices.   “If start-up entrepreneurs don’t have a background in quality, the customer will be really disappointed, so you have to be careful there.”   The slow burn   “Chinese businesspeople value relationships first before doing business,” Ramler says.   “If you want to be a long-term successful company in Australia, it’s definitely important that you continue speaking to all different factories in Asia every month.   “With one factory, we were speaking to them for four years before we placed our first order… You really have to spend the time on the ground in China and Asia, and work together.”

Banking regulator targeting lax standards for business lending

3:39AM | Friday, 15 March

The country's banking regulator has said it will start cracking down on banks if it believes lending standards have become too relaxed, as some reports have indicated, but business leaders say SMEs are still strapped for cash.

Chris Bowen speaks out but SMEs want action, not words

3:48AM | Friday, 15 March

Two weeks after his appointment, Chris Bowen has finally spoken up as the country's newest small business minister, but his criticism of the Coalition's small business policies hasn't been wholly accepted by the community he has been chosen to represent.

Business critical of Fair Work push to police workplace bullying

3:52AM | Friday, 15 March

Business leaders have criticised the federal government's proposal to have workplace bullying complaints heard by the Fair Work Commission, saying the move will increase confusion and encourage "forum shopping".

Government details flexible work changes, experts say clarity still missing

3:53AM | Friday, 15 March

The federal government has solidified its plans to expand flexible working standards, with Prime Minister Julia Gillard confirming legislation will change to allow victims of domestic abuse to request different working hours.

Fair Work changes coming, business hesitant over flexible working rights

3:54AM | Friday, 15 March

Small business has expressed its hesitation over the federal government's planned expansion of flexible workplace laws, saying they could threaten the viability of businesses in certain industries and place undue pressure on struggling SMEs.

Election announcement welcomed by business as focus turns to policy

3:02AM | Friday, 15 March

Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s surprise announcement about this year’s federal election has been welcomed by the business community for giving “certainty” to small firms.

Unions dictate unfair dismissal reforms, business groups say

3:43AM | Tuesday, 12 March

Businesses are critical of the limited change to unfair dismissal provisions announced by the Federal Government yesterday, claiming unions have been effectively given a "veto right" on reform.

Small wins for business on unfair dismissal laws

3:45AM | Tuesday, 12 March

Workplace Relations Minister Bill Shorten today offered limited relief on unfair dismissal laws to business but the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry says the reforms are unlikely to go far enough.

COSBOA calls for new IR award for small business

8:51AM | Thursday, 9 August

The peak small business group is calling for changes to workplace rules that would see award rates determined by the size of a business rather than the industry it is in.

Employers voice dismay as review finds in favour of Fair Work regime

8:46AM | Thursday, 2 August

A review into the Fair Work industrial relations scheme has been branded “bitterly disappointing” by employers, after an independent panel decided against recommending any major reforms of workplace laws.

Business groups call for “modest” approach to minimum wage increase

5:24AM | Monday, 14 May

Business and industry groups are urging Fair Work Australia to reject a claim for the minimum wage to be lifted by $26 a week, calling for a more “modest” approach to award wages.

Federal Budget 2012: Business groups welcome budget surplus but question long-term vision

5:08AM | Wednesday, 9 May

Business and industry groups have welcomed the Federal Budget’s return to surplus but have questioned Treasurer Wayne Swan’s long-term vision for enterprise, with the decision to dump the promised company tax cut provoking ire.

Federal Budget 2012: $714 million tax loss carry-back scheme confirmed

5:06AM | Tuesday, 8 May

The Federal Government’s tax loss carry-back scheme has taken centre stage at the 2012 Federal Budget, but most companies will have to wait until around 2014 in order to cash in.

Spotlight turns to banks after RBA slashes rates to 3.75%

5:49AM | Tuesday, 1 May

The Reserve Bank has answered the prayers of the business sector, lowering the cash rate by 50 basis points to 3.75%, but experts aren’t convinced the big banks will pass on the rate cut in full.

Consumer sentiment hits record low amid calls for rate cut

4:47AM | Wednesday, 11 April

Consumer sentiment is at its lowest level since August last year, according to the Westpac-Melbourne Institute of Consumer Sentiment, which recorded a 1.6% fall in consumer sentiment in April to 94.5 index points.

Three-pronged pay push will hurt employers, business groups claim

3:22AM | Wednesday, 7 March

Employers will face a three-pronged pay push in coming months as unions seek pay increases for adult apprentices and other workers, while junior retail workers could also receive a pay rise.

Business groups outline wish lists for new minister Brendan O’Connor

3:13AM | Monday, 5 March

Business groups have welcomed Brendan O’Connor’s appointment as Small Business Minister, but expect the former union official to quickly get to work on meaningful reforms in the sector, especially when it comes to cutting red tape.

Business leaders hit out at “debilitating” Labor leadership battle

2:31AM | Thursday, 23 February

Labor’s leadership battle could cripple the already-fragile state of business confidence, business groups warn, with concerns raised over how Kevin Rudd’s potential return would affect conditions.

SMEs suffering from plummeting business confidence: ACCI report

2:38AM | Tuesday, 21 February

The small business sector is continuing to lose confidence in the economy, according to the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, as it calls for changes to unfair dismissal laws.