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Air travel network over East Asia. Elements of this image furnished by NASA.

Small businesses to benefit from growth in cross-border transactions

Over two million Australian small businesses are positioned to benefit from growing global trade, with online sales to foreign buyers forecast to triple to $16.1bn by 2018.

The new figures are produced by PayPal which has authored a new paper on cross-border trade highlighting the opportunities for small businesses.

Australia is currently ranked as the top e-trade ready nation in the G-20 and is in a leadership position in this field given its enthusiastic take-up of electronic payments and access to affordable internet with 93 per cent of businesses connected.

In 2013, the value of cross-border Australian online transactions was worth $5bn. The major markets are the United States where 18 per cent of cross-border shoppers conducted transactions with Australian businesses and China where 39 per cent of cross-border shoppers conducted similar transactions.

At a roundtable briefing this week on modern day “spice routes” for today’s merchants, PayPal canvassed the ways for smaller operators to take advantage of the shifting global economy.

“Real and virtual barriers to trade are rapidly disappearing, helped by the growing use of the internet for commerce and enabling payment platforms,” said Emma Hunt, Director Small Business, PayPal Australia.

“These factors, combined with resource-rich economies entering the global online marketplace and Australia’s reputation for producing quality goods and service, have all created unprecedented opportunity for our small businesses to expand into new markets, find new customers, and diversify their income streams.”

The market for business owners wanting to take advantage of opportunities in cross border trade is large. For example, the PayPal report notes that Australia, the UK, the US, German, Brazil and China comprise a market of 94 million online shoppers who spent in excess of $US100bn in 2013.

It estimates that this market will increase to 130 million shoppers in the next five years, spending in excess of US$300bn. “It is a market that Australian small and medium sized businesses cannot ignore,” it says.

The growth in cross border transactions is opening up new opportunities for start-ups with a number of entrepreneurs saying the ability to sell straight into foreign markets has greatly assisted their businesses.

Jamie and Abigail Forsythe said their own product KeepCup, a barista standard reusable coffee cup, had benefited from the trend and had sold 3 million cups in 32 countries since June 2009.