Melbourne’s small and medium businesses have today learnt how they can back a winner through Australia’s free trade agreements (FTAs) with China, Korea and Japan. 

Assistant Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment Keith Pitt hosted the free-trade seminar in South Yarra and welcomed the strong support shown by attendees.  

"It was great to see so many local businesses come along, particularly small and medium-sized operations," Mr Pitt said.  

"The seminar provided a terrific platform to answer their questions and provide practical information about how they can benefit from our free-trade agreements with China, Japan and Korea."  

Assistant Minister Pitt was joined by Simon Vogrinec, who with his wife Michelle owns the successful Melbourne skincare manufacturer and exporter GAIA Skin Naturals.  

Mr Vogrinec spoke about how their family business had benefitted from tariff reductions secured in Australia’s free-trade agreements (FTAs) with Korea, Japan and China.  

“Where the FTAs have come through, what we've seen is about a thirty-six percent increase – it’s quite significant growth for us, just in those market places,” Mr Vogrinec said. 

“To still be experiencing double-digit and triple-digit growth this far into our journey I think is exceptional, because it's enabled us to grow and enabled our supply chain to grow.”  

Mr Pitt said that Melbourne businesses from a wide range of sectors could benefit from the North Asia FTAs, including high-value growth industries of the future such as education, agriculture and health. 

"These FTAs open the door even wider to more than a billion potential new customers, so the more we can support local businesses realise their full export potential, the stronger our local economy will be,” Mr Pitt said. 

"I’m confident the local companies who attended today’s seminar now know they have support in pursuing export opportunities - they can access a wide range of government assistance, including through our Austrade and TradeStart networks and there are also export market development grants and export finance available." 

Today’s seminar is the latest in a series being conducted Australia-wide to help Australian businesses take advantage of free trade agreements, creating local jobs and economic growth for all Australians.  

Further information for business about Australia’s new Free Trade Agreements is available at,, and the Austrade and DFAT websites. Information on export finance can be obtained from Efic.  

Media enquiries

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