The Business Council welcomes this opportunity to provide a submission on the Foreign Policy White Paper. In today’s increasingly globalised economy, the Australian business sector regards international stability and predictability as vital to prosperity of nations, including Australia. And increased engagement between countries of the region and across the globe does more than just increase trade; it promotes innovation, which rarely flourishes in isolation within one country’s borders, and builds positive patterns of behaviour that reinforce political stability and security.
The development of the Foreign Policy White Paper is a timely opportunity to think strategically about Australia’s interests and region and the significant changes that are shaping it. While there are strong elements of continuity that promote a favourable environment for Australia, challenges including rapid technological change, geopolitical instability, mass movements of people, slow global economic growth, and rising dissatisfaction with existing narratives and institutions, require a re-evaluation of existing policy settings, and recommitment to Australia’s core values and the institutions that embody them.
This submission outlines the Business Council’s suggestions for actions and advocacy that can contribute to Australia’s prosperity and security, and counter the emerging protectionist narrative. These suggestions include promoting the benefits of trade and investment liberalisation, enhancing Australia’s engagement with regional partners and institutions, and encouraging the WTO to increase its relevance to trading requirements of the 21st century through pursuing agreements on investment, non-tariff barriers and services trade liberalisation. Given the complexity of contemporary international engagement, the Business Council encourages the Australian Government to take a whole-of-Australia approach, and build open and inclusive mechanisms for consultation with the range of Australian stakeholders that can contribute to promoting Australia’s interests internationally.