The lead author of the 2021 Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI) National Trade Survey Report says Australia needs to overhaul its tax and industrial relations sectors to compete with other nations.
Recruiting skilled migrants, improving internet services and reducing reliance on China are other suggestions made by the report launched by Federal Trade Minister Dan Tehan.
The survey of more than 200 business leaders highlighted Australia’s reliance on global supply chains and lack of sovereign capability.
Professor Susan Freeman, principal author of the findings, says heightened geopolitical tensions and a trade war with China have exposed Australia’s vulnerabilities in the past 12 months.
“Australian businesses are adaptable, entrepreneurial, innovative and smart. The problem is not solely with them, but with entrenched structural issues that need urgent reform,” she says.
30 senior managers, CEOs and export managers say domestic industrial action at shipping ports, coinciding with COVID-19 outbreaks, has compounded supply chain disruptions.
“If you’re waiting up to six weeks to get things moved from our own ports, that is not a reflection on businesses. That is something that is completely within the control of Federal and State Governments – to better manage industrial relations. It needs a government and industry joint effort,” Susan says.
The report shows the longer borders remain closed the harder it will be for businesses to compete.
“Australia needs access to highly skilled, quality people. If you shut interstate and international borders indefinitely you not only make it very difficult for firms to fill key roles but you also risk being left behind by the rest of the world, whose borders are opening,” Susan notes.
The Fifth ACCI 2021 Trade Report makes 20 recommendations, including a “cleaner and greener” trade approach.
“The love affair with black coal is ending and the world is looking for alternative energy sources. It’s time that governments sat down with industry and worked together on a clear plan for the future,” Susan says.