The Export Council of Australia released their Trade Policy Recommendations to Government. These recommendations highlight the importance of trade to the Australian economy and the dire need for Government to address the impediments to trade which are hindering Australian business’ ability to compete internationally.
The purpose of the recommendations is to demonstrate that trade is a key driver of jobs, innovation and long term prosperity for Australia and, therefore, trade considerations need to be central in determining Australia’s domestic economic policy settings. The document demonstrates the need for the Government to review its Trade Policy direction in order to reduce the potential for market failure. The following five key issues form the core of this paper:
- Competitiveness: Highest on the agenda is the need for Australia to successfully compete in a rapidly evolving global market place – Being competitive is a must, not an option
- Infrastructure: The need to address Australia’s ageing commercial soft and hard infrastructure – It’s time for an innovative approach
- Trade Promotion: The need for significantly greater investment in cohesive trade promotion and research with a nationally driven agenda – The more we put in, the more we get out
- Bipartisan Collaboration: Ensuring greater bipartisan collaboration between political parties and Government Agencies, and between Government and Industry, focusing on long term sustainable strategies - Team Australia is the only way!
- International Engagement: Maintaining Australia’s strong high level multi-lateral participation, strengthening existing bi-lateral trade agreements, expediting new bi-lateral arrangements and importantly instilling a deeper trade culture in DFAT – If New Zealand can do it why can’t we?
“Australia is a country of 23 million, which is a drop in the ocean when you consider that the world population now stands at over 7 billion people. The opportunities for Australian business have never been more apparent but the competition in the international market place has never been fiercer,” said Ian Murray AM, Executive Chairman of the Export Council of Australia.
The backbone of the recommendations the ECA have put forward to Government is the imperative that trade considerations be central in determining Australia’s domestic economic policy settings. “Too often trade is positioned as being shaped only by external influences such as Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) and the World Trade Organisation,” said Mr Murray. “The truth of the matter is that international competitiveness begins at home, right here in Australia. What we, the Export Council are trying to get across to Government and to the people of Australia, is that Trade is a domestic economic issue-and one that cannot be ignored because it creates jobs, promotes innovation and generates long term prosperity.”
Australia’s competitors, including the Canada, the USA, New Zealand and the UK, are continually being ranked ahead of Australia in terms of competitiveness and efficiency when it comes to the trade and the ease of doing business. “If we don’t do anything about removing inefficient red and green tape, improving our infrastructure and addressing trade facilitation issues, Australia is going to fall even further behind and catching up will be an arduous task,” said Mr Murray.