The strong Australian dollar, coupled with increased competition, means only 48 percent of exporters expect an increase in profits in the next 12 months.
The 2013 DHL Export Barometer found that while Asia plays a critical role in Australia’s export future, China and the United States are also considered the biggest competitive threats to local exporters.
“Despite 60 percent of exporters saying the strong Australian dollar continues to have the greatest negative impact on export sales, exporters are coping successfully by looking for opportunities closer to home, in Asia and New Zealand,” says Gary Edstein, senior vice president of DHL Express Oceania.
“In 2013, 74 percent of exporters have also turned to importing, compared to just under 40 percent two years ago.”
New Zealand was the number one export destination over the past 12 months, which Edstein believes is because New Zealand is a tried and tested ground for local exporters.
Meanwhile, exports to Europe fell 14 percent in the past year, with exports to the Americas also falling ten percent.
Australian exporters were also seen to be lagging when it comes to online commerce.
Despite the online space being the main source of international competition, almost two thirds of exporters currently are not selling online.
While 69 percent realise the positive impact it has on business, up from just 29 percent last year, 64 percent also believe online commerce presents a significant increase in competition.
Over half the exporters surveyed stated they believe online commerce contributes to lower profits.
Tim Harcourt, economics professor at UNSW and author of The Airport Economist, believes exporters must build online.
“Considering the high Australian dollar and the competitive environment, there is a huge potential for growth and it may signify a quick catch up for exporters in the online commerce space over the next 12 months.”