NSW to make its biggest investment to boost trade as part of COVID recovery

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The NSW government will make its biggest investment to boost trade and aggressively expand its overseas presence in a bid to have international business drive the state's COVID-19 economic recovery.

The Berejiklian government will provide more than $273 million in next Tuesday's budget to establish NSW as Australia's trading hub, spending millions of dollars to boost exports.

NSW will spend $16 million over the next four years to boost the state’s exports.Credit:Louise Kennerley

NSW's exports were worth $100 billion in 2019, equivalent to 16 per cent of the state's economy, but the government wants to increase exports to south-east Asia, India and the UK and diversify into established markets in north Asia and the US.

Treasurer Dominic Perrottet said the international strategy was critical because NSW needed to play catch-up with the other states in terms of an overseas presence.

"Our network of offshore agencies has been pretty poor for some time," he said.

The government will spend $112 million to nearly double the number of trade offices from 11 to 21 in cities including London, Seoul, San Francisco, Frankfurt, Santiago and Paris.

As part of its expansion, the government will appoint an agent general in the UK and five trade and investment commissioners in Tokyo, New York, Mumbai, Singapore and Shanghai.

NSW has not had an agent general since 1993 when the posting was axed because it was seen as "a throwback to the colonial days".

The government will also use the strategy to drive employment, with Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade research showing one in five jobs is supported by international trade and foreign investment.

Deputy Premier and Trade Minister John Barilaro said the strategy "would cement NSW as the country’s trade powerhouse" and create jobs.

"This record investment in the trade and industry space is so important to empower NSW businesses to stay competitive in export markets or start exporting for the first time," he said. "On the ground assistance in key international markets to support NSW businesses grow their exports has never been more important."

Mr Barilaro said almost $16 million would be invested over the next four years to boost NSW’s exports including extending the Going Global Program which provides export coaching, business matching, in-market assistance and export advisory services.

"We are continuing investment in programs such as Study NSW, to maintain the state’s position as Australia’s leading study destination," Mr Barilaro said.

"International education is NSW’s largest service export, worth over $14.6 billion to the NSW economy last year and supports more than 95,000 full-time equivalent jobs.”

Also included in the funding will be $10 million for export grants, more than $18.2 million for Study NSW and more than $63 million for industry support programs.

Mr Perrottet said the funding would be critical to setting the state on the road to economic recovery in the wake of the pandemic.

"Our health response to COVID has been first-class and it has put us in a position to capitalise on the opportunities that will present themselves in a post-COVID world," he said.

"There has never been a more important time to invest in our trade and industries to give NSW businesses the support they need to boost jobs and establish our state as the nation’s premier trading hub."

The government is also luring domestic and international businesses into moving their head offices to NSW by offering four years of zero payroll tax to businesses that create 30 new jobs or more.

Premier Gladys Berejiklian has pitched her $250 million jobs funding boost at "frustrated" businesses in Queensland and Victoria unhappy with their own governments' COVID-19 response.

The two-year program aims to create up to 25,000 jobs by mid-2022.

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