banner image
Press release

International Business Report shows optimism down, but international expansion on the cards

Grant Thornton’s most recent International Business Report (IBR) shows Australian mid-size businesses are looking to expand overseas and are investing in innovation and people, while at the same time preparing for Australia’s upcoming mandatory sustainability reporting. 

The latest IBR data shows that while business optimism is still down – around 57 per cent – revenue expectations from non-domestic markets in the next 12 months has risen to 30 per cent in 2024 (up from 22 per cent in 2023), and the percentage of businesses planning to expand internationally has also risen to 33 per cent (up from 22 per cent in 2023). Similarly, businesses are looking to increase their exports, with 38 per cent expecting an increase compared to 23 per cent in 2023. 

This trend is evidenced by the Australian Bureau of Statistics, who reported earlier this month that by the end of 2023, Australian direct investment abroad rose to just over $1 trillion. 

Turning to investment in innovation and people to engage international markets in the future, the IBR data implies Australian mid-size businesses are expecting to invest heavily in new technology (54 per cent), research and development (44 per cent), and staff skills (50 per cent) over the next 12 months. 

Separately, the IBR data reports nearly 70 per cent of Australian businesses are ready for mandatory climate and sustainability reporting following the Bill introduced into Parliament earlier this year implementing mandatory climate-related financial disclosure requirements commencing on or after 1 January 2025. According to the IBR report, 33 per cent of mid-size businesses understand the requirements and have started reporting, while 36 per cent are preparing to meet reporting deadlines. Only 18 per cent are unsure of the requirements and need more information, while 8 per cent are not prepared at all. 

“It’s pleasing to see data suggesting that such a high percentage of affected companies understand what’s required of them and are either ready, or are getting ready, to report. The mandatory reporting represents a major shift in the level of disclosure required from mid-size businesses, so starting early and building strong internal controls are imperative,” said John Askham, ESG reporting expert and Partner at Grant Thornton Australia. 

Grant Thornton International has released information on its Global IBR results here: International business ambitions of the mid-market

Copy text of article