Export Grants Funding Scheme: new rules

On 1 July 2021, the federal government’s Export Market Development Grants scheme will be changed to cater better to the needs of small to medium enterprises (SMEs), with less red tape and greater funding certainty.

The existing EMDG system of ‘reimbursement after the fact’ will be replaced by a competitive grants model. This should help ease issues with cashflow and bring greater funding certainty to smaller exporters. The scheme will also offer more support to first-time exporters.

In a 2020 media release announcing the changes, Federal Trade Minister Simon Birmingham said better assisting Australian exporters to enter new markets or expand their presence in existing markets would be critical to boosting export activity and supporting Australia’s economic recovery from COVID-19.

“The EMDG scheme has played a critical role in helping hundreds of thousands of Australian exporters to expand into international markets, develop brand recognition overseas and form relationships with potential customers,” Minister Birmingham said.

“COVID-19 has presented new hurdles for Australian exporters including the disruption to supply-chains and loss of markets, and it is more important than ever that they have the support mechanisms in place to help them their reach their export potential.”

Levels of support

From 1 July, SMEs will be able to apply for grants of up to $770,000 per applicant over up to eight years – not necessarily consecutively – for eligible promotional activities.

Before applying, SMEs should be ‘export-ready’, with a turnover of less than $20 million.

Grants will be available in three stages, or tiers, each of which offers a different level of support to SMEs at varying stages of the export journey:

  • Tier 1 is for eligible SMEs new to exporting: grants of up to $40,000 per year for two years.
  • Tier 2 is for eligible exporters planning to expand their presence in existing markets or enter new ones: grants of up to $80,000 per year for three years.
  • Tier 3 is for eligible exporters planning ‘strategic shifts’ in their exporting businesses: grants of up to $150,000 per year for three years.

How will EMDG work from 1 July 2021?

From 1 July 2021, the EMDG application process will be as follows:

  • A business applies for a grant before spending any money on promotional activities.
  • Once all applications have been assessed, Austrade offers a grant agreement to each eligible applicant.
  • Each recipient enters into a grant agreement with Austrade, then undertakes promotional activities as agreed in that agreement.
  • Participating businesses then request milestone payments in accordance with their grant agreements.
  • Each grant agreement sets out when milestone payments should be made and what’s required in order to receive these payments.

Apply for an EMDG

To apply, download Austrade’s EMDG application guidelines.

Assistance for industry bodies and alliances

Assistance is also offered to industry bodies and alliances. This will be expanded from 1 July to provide assistance for members new to export in becoming ‘export-ready’.

Industry bodies and alliances will continue to have access to financial assistance, enabling them to undertake promotional activities in export markets on behalf of their members, with grants of up to $150,000 per year.’

Key documents

From 1 July 2021, EMDG will be governed by three key documents:

  • The Export Market Development Grants Act 1997 (the EMDG Act), with amendments passed by Parliament that came into force on 17 June 2021.
  • The Export Market Development Grant Rules 2021 (the EMDG Rules).
  • The Export Market Development Grants Guidelines (the EMDG Guidelines) – a plain English description of the governing rules. View the draft 2021-22 EMDG Guidelines (PDF 1.21MB).

Further information and updates

For EMDG updates, subscribe to Austrade’s EMDG Update.

Email direct feedback and questions to


Backing Australian exporters to go global I Minister Simon Birmingham’s office media release (10 Sept 2020)

EMDG guidelines I Austrade