Trade Review an Important Chance to Assess Australia’s Global Priorities

21 February 2008

The Business Council of Australia welcomes the whole-of-government review of Australia’s trade policies and programs announced today by Trade Minister Simon Crean.

The Chairman of the BCA’s Trade Task Force, John Denton, said the broad-based examination of trade policy settings was both necessary and timely in light of changes to the global business environment.

Mr Denton, who is also the CEO and Partner of Corrs Chambers Westgarth, said that prior to the 2007 federal election, the BCA recommended a review of trade policies and programs.

“We are very pleased that the government has moved so quickly to deliver on its commitment to conduct such an assessment,” Mr Denton said.

“The international outlook for Australian businesses continues to undergo rapid change. New commercial opportunities and challenges are emerging in global markets. At the same time, markets have continued to become even more competitive and dynamic,” he said.

Mr Denton said governments and industry needed to make certain that policy settings and resources were effectively supporting growth in trade and international investment by Australian interests.

“We regard this objective as an urgent priority for the nation,” he said.

“To take just one example, Australia needs to more effectively use policy settings to lift the international performance of our services industries given the lower growth in the exports of services compared with other developed countries.

“There are in fact potential new global opportunities for Australian firms across many industry sectors. It is therefore important that we look beyond international trade policy to also consider Australia’s regulatory framework in other portfolios that impact on doing business in foreign markets.

“The BCA also supports the government’s review of free trade agreements and the aim of benchmarking the benefits flowing from these agreements in order to better inform approaches to current and future trade negotiations.

“We look forward to making a contribution to both of these reviews over the coming months.”



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