Details about what type of businesses were involved in export sales and their destination markets.


Just over one third (36%) were engaged in exporting, up from 31% three years earlier. Among exporters, however, one third had experienced a decline in exports, and two thirds had experienced growth, evenly split between under 15% and 15% or more on an annualised basis.

A small group of businesses (10%) exported at least 50% of their turnover; indeed some exported all of their output. An interesting feature of this group was that a high proportion were newer – 62% had been founded since 1990 – there were more manufacturers than business services, a high proportion of fast growers and medium-sized businesses, and a relatively high proportion of businesses with moderate profit growth, but a modest difference in terms of innovation group.


The highest proportion of those exporting did so to Australia, followed at some distance by "other", Asia, North America (including Mexico) and the EU. Those businesses with 10% or more of turnover accounted for by exports to Asia were more common among manufacturers, new, fast growth, industry innovators and medium-sized businesses, with little difference by profit growth group.


There were some notable features of businesses experiencing annualised export growth over the past three years of 15% or more. Surprisingly perhaps, differences were not marked across size groups, with 27% of micro businesses, 34% of small and 29% of medium-sized businesses experiencing such growth in exports. Of those exporting, however, 35% of business service firms came into this category, compared with 28% of manufacturers. More remarkably, among exporters, 42% of conventional business service firms fall into this category, compared with 32% for high-tech business services (29% for high-tech manufacturing and 28% for conventional manufacturing).

These rapidly growing exporters, moreover, were conspicuous among industry innovators (36%), compared to 28% and 18% of business innovators and non-innovators respectively (see Figure 8). And even more notably, 61% of fast growers were also growing their exports at this rapid rate, compared with 28% of medium and 11% of non-growth businesses.

Figure 8: Export growth by type of innovator

Note: Fast expert decline <=-15%; Modest decline >-15%; Modest growth <15%; Fast growth >=15%.