Trade Liberalisation a Strong Basis to Support Productivity

The Business Council of Australia today expressed strong support for the federal government’s commitment to trade liberalisation as the basis for supporting productivity growth in the Australian economy.

Chairman of the BCA’s Global Engagement Task Force, John Denton, said the trade policy framework announced by Trade Minister Craig Emerson today would provide a solid basis for achieving effective trade and investment outcomes for Australia.

Mr Denton said the framework, which was consistent with BCA trade policy principles, provided a strong foundation to pursue the council’s four priority outcomes to support a stronger Australian economy.

The BCA’s trade priorities include firstly achieving a conclusion to the Doha Round of trade negotiations that opens up new commercial opportunities for business and future economic growth across 150 nations.

Secondly, it should be a priority to continuing to pursue free trade agreements that have the potential to achieve significant economic benefits for Australia.

Thirdly, we support new approaches to economic integration, through initiatives including the APEC agenda for structural reform.

And finally, there should be a priority on continuing to pursue domestic economic reforms that strengthen Australia’s international trade competitiveness.

Mr Denton said that free trade and investment policies attract productive investments, provide an incentive to innovate and generate opportunities for local employment in new areas.

“The pursuit of free trade objectives that were advanced through the major economic reforms of the 1980s and 1990s opened up the Australian economy, and helped to secure nearly two decades of uninterrupted economic growth”, Mr Denton said.

“The principles of non-discrimination, linking trade policy to domestic economic reform, and being prepared to pursue reforms without waiting for foreign governments are consistent with the BCA’s priorities for trade and investment policy.

“Where Australia has been prepared to embark on unilateral reforms to open up trade and investment, such as the lowering of tariff barriers, this has resulted in lower prices and greater choice for consumers.

“Equally, we must continue to press other nations to remove barriers to markets and to liberalise restrictions on investment.

“The removal of barriers to international investment flows is an important issue for Australian businesses that have established or are seeking to develop operations overseas.

“The BCA strongly supports the commitment to free trade and investment outlined by Trade Minister Craig Emerson.

“The minister’s trade policy statement provides an important basis for ensuring Australians will continue to benefit from reforms that serve the national interest,” Mr Denton said.