WINNERS at the 56th annual Australian Export Awards included Inpex for its Ichthys LNG project, a mining company and a winemaker.

The top award, 2018 Australian Exporter of the Year, was split between Aspen medical and SEAPA (which also won the agribusiness award).

Trade and investment minister Simon Birmingham announced the winners a Canberra ceremony.

“Aspen Medical and SEAPA are two great Australian business success stories,” Minister Birmingham said.

“This is an outstanding achievement by two Australian companies that started as small grassroots operations and are now global businesses exporting their high-quality products and services to the world.

“They exemplify the spirit of entrepreneurship and innovation and I hope they can inspire thousands of other small businesses out there to take a punt and become exporters.”

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SEAPA is a South Australian business that is revolutionising the oyster farming industry with its injection-moulded plastic baskets and farming systems. SEAPA began exporting to North America in 2001, and its export markets have grown to include Europe and North Asia, where its technology is helping to grow better quality oysters at lower costs.

Aspen Medical, which also won the Health and Biotechnology Award, provides primary healthcare, emergency healthcare, training, consultancy, medical evacuations and clinics in 16 countries on three continents.

Minister Birmingham said this year’s awards recognise the enormous contribution exporters make to Australia with the 88 finalists employing over 21,000 Australians generating more than $2bn in export sales.

“This year’s finalists export a variety of high quality Australian goods and services from biometrics consulting to lace wedding gowns, aerospace components to essential oils, thermoplastic horse shoes and vaccines for HIV,” Minister Birmingham said.

“Australian businesses that export hire 23% more staff, pay 11% higher wages and have labour productivity that is 13% higher than non-exporting firms.

Inpex was also awarded the Trade Tourism and Investment Minister’s Investment Award for its Ichthys LNG project, which is expected to create 1800 jobs on average per year over the next 40 years and generate $195bn in exports.

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