Action to Improve Australia’s Competitiveness

The importance of high-value technology investments and activity are recognised as a key ingredient in advancing Australia’s competitiveness and growth in a vastly more competitive world, Business Council of Australia President Tony Shepherd said today.

Speaking after a meeting with the Chairman of the U.S. Business Council, Andrew N. Liveris, Mr Shepherd said that Australia could not afford to be left behind as other advanced and emerging economies build strategies for economic growth through technological leadership.

“As part of the action plan for enduring prosperity being developed by the BCA, we will be identifying the drivers of competitiveness across all sectors of the Australian economy including manufacturing with a focus on the critical cross cutting technologies,” Mr Shepherd said.

Mr Shepherd said he was grateful to have the support of Mr Liveris in his role as chairman of the U.S. Business Council to share learnings as they do with their European and Japanese counterparts, from a country renowned for innovation and commercialisation of technology.

“The goal is to identify the opportunities with greatest potential in each of the critical sectors making up the Australian economy, and identify how they are best advanced in a competitive world,” he said.

An Australian, Mr Liveris is the first non-American to chair the U.S. Business Council, and is also the chairman and chief executive officer of the Dow Chemical Company. He also serves as Co-Chair of President Obama’s Advanced Manufacturing Partnership (AMP) which is focused on reinventing manufacturing in a way that ensures competitiveness, feeds into the nation’s innovation economy and invigorates a domestic manufacturing base.

“The taskforce established a framework of integrated recommendations that reflect not only the complexity of the challenge we face, but the opportunities before us detailing a practical consensus on priorities in three key areas: enabling innovation, securing the talent pipeline and improving the business climate,” Mr Liveris said.

He said there had been strong engagement from business, research, academia and policy makers in the United States because of shared accountability of the importance of the issue.

“In identifying key manufacturing technologies, there was no picking of ‘winners’, but simply a more disciplined focus,” Mr Liveris said. “This is an area where you tend to get what you plan for – and if there is no plan, then you will see no action.”

As part of its work over the next year, the BCA will identify the essential cross cutting technologies with the most potential and recommend actions to enable technology development and accelerate innovation and commercialisation.

Mr Shepherd said that the BCA’s work to date had made clear the need for action on the same issues that had confronted the US manufacturing sector tax and regulation policies which encouraged investment and innovation, workforce development through more focussed education and training improving working relationships between researchers and business, and a competitive energy policy.

“Australia should rank in the top five countries of the World Economic Forum’s global competiveness index today we come in at number 20. And on the World Economic Forum’s Innovation Index we ranked 22nd – well down the list of OECD countries,” he said.

He said the BCA was very fortunate that its U.S. counterpart was so willing to assist with the project, and also that the BCA would lead a delegation to the US to more closely observe US policy initiatives”.

For further information contact:
Scott Thompson, Director, Media and Public Affairs
Business Council of Australia
Telephone (03) 8664 2603 • Mobile 0403 241 128