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Make the most of EMDG

The Export Market Development Grant (EMDG) scheme is the Federal Government’s principal export finance assistance program.

Administered by Austrade – the Federal Government’s trade facilitation agency – EMDG helps small to medium Australian exporters to locate and develop overseas markets for their product.

The $150 million-dollar scheme provides a cash reimbursement of up to 50 per cent for overseas marketing and promotional costs incurred to create export revenue.

Applications are open to Australian-based enterprises that:

• are promoting the export of their Australian goods, services, intellectual property and knowhow

• spend at least $20,000 on eligible export promotion per annum.

Products and services must be substantially of Australian origin.

Categories of eligible expenses include:

• overseas representation (ie agent and distributor fees)

• overseas market visits

• communications

The costs of many Austrade services are eligible as most relate to export marketing and promotional activities.

Only those expenses that fall into the categories of eligible expenditure can be claimed. Main exclusions include:

• sales related expenses

• capital costs

• reimbursed expenses and

• costs related to trade with New Zealand. (New Zealand export marketing and promotion expenses are excluded due to the Australia New Zealand Closer Economic Relations agreement.)

Special provisions include:

• first-time applicants can combine two years’ expenses to meet the $20,000 threshold

• businesses who have received eight grants may receive a further three grants for each new market entered.

Up to 50 per cent of export promotion and marketing expenses may be reimbursed – less the first $15,000. The maximum grant for an individual applicant is $200,000 per annum.

Expenses claimed must have been paid for during the grant year.

Each business may receive a maximum of eight grants, plus three additional grants for every new market entered.

Austrade strongly encourages applicants to lodge their claims as early as possible. Applications can be lodged as early as July.

Applications received before 30 October will generally be process-ed within eight weeks. Applica-tions received after this date are processed in order of receipt.

Austrade pays individual grants of up to $60,000 on assessment. Applicants with entitlements greater than $60,000 will receive the initial $60,000 following assessment, with the balance of their grant paid in late June at a rate determined by remaining funds.

In 1997/98, almost 70 per cent of applicants received their full entitlement in the initial payment. All remaining applicants received 100 per cent of their outstanding entitlement at the end of June.

An applicant cannot receive the grant before costs are incurred. The grant is a reimbursement of part of the costs incurred during a grant year and is only payable after an application has been lodged and assessed by Austrade following the close of the grant year.

Applicants must declare the grant as income in their tax return.

A first-time applicant must lodge a one-page registration form before 30 June. First-time applicants are also required to satisfy the requirements of an entry test. This includes:

• lodging an export marketing plan and

• a follow-up visit by an EMDG assessor.

The EMDG assessor will let applicants know if more information is required and may be able to give an indication of entitlement during the visit.

Common mistakes include:

• first-year applicants submitting incomplete export marketing plans and in particular inadequate financial information

• claiming expenses which are not eligible, such as in-house production costs or employee wages and

• not organising business transaction records in an EMDG-friendly manner. Austrade recommends maintaining and preparing EMDG paperwork in a similar manner to tax records.

Austrade has strategies and initiatives in place to minimise over-claiming as well as to prevent and detect fraud.

Applicants must:

• be the principal for the export business

• not be under insolvency or administration and

• directors must be free of certain corporate convictions.

Businesses do not have to use a consultant to apply for an EMDG. However, nearly 70 per cent of applicants lodge their grant application through consultants.

Austrade can provide a list of professional consultants who will prepare the application. Consult-ants will charge either on an hourly rate or on a success fee basis.

More information about the

services consultants offer can be obtained through the Export Consultants Association on

(02) 9904 4988.

Completed applications must be received by Austrade between 1 July and 30 November. First-time applicants must register with Austrade by 30 June.

The first point of contact is Austrade on 13 28 78 or on Austrade’s website at:

www.austrade.gov.au.

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