Australia has been at the forefront of global market liberalisation in recent years. Market liberalisation has provided Australian enterprises with the opportunity to enter new markets, grow their businesses and contribute to higher levels of domestic growth and higher living standards.
However, we can do more to capitalise on the opportunities created by global integration. Australia’s trade-to-GDP ratio increased from around 16 per cent in 1990 to 21 per cent today. Meanwhile, the average trade-to-GDP ratio of OECD nations rose from 32 per cent in 1990 to 45 per cent in 2005.
Australian businesses are not taking up new opportunities to the extent that might be expected, and they continue to face significant barriers to investment. In particular:
The nation’s market share of international services exports has declined since the start of the decade.
While outwards direct investment has grown rapidly, there is a need to address continuing barriers to investing in fast-growing markets in our more immediate region.
There is scope to increase the proportion of employing businesses in Australia that are engaged in exporting.
There should be a focus on growing export volumes where growth has slowed since the start of this decade.
Australian businesses need both the capabilities and opportunities to become globally engaged or to build on their presence in existing international markets. Business needs governments to help by setting the right policies.