UNNECESSARILY complex regulation, erratic enforcement mechanisms and shipping costs were identified as impediments to Australia’s international trade regime in a recent survey. 

The Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, in partnership with the University of South Australia and supported by ANZ, has released its 2021 National Trade Survey

The survey identifies the challenges Australian businesses face in global markets during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

As a barometer of the business community, ACCI’s trade surveys provide a blueprint to government on how best to support our importers and exporters as they grow internationally, building our economy and creating jobs. 

Surprisingly, in an era of unparalleled volatility in global trade with the global COVID-19 pandemic and concurrent increased geopolitical tensions with China, the survey’s findings are indicative of the enduring nature of many concerns for the Australian business community. 

Most prominently, Australia’s international competitiveness was identified as the single greatest issue for firms operating as both “goods” and “goods and services” business, while concomitantly red tape was regarded as the greatest issue for the “services” sector. 

Specifically, high corporate and personal tax rates, unnecessarily complex regulation, erratic enforcement mechanisms, export tariffs, shipping and logistic costs, reliance on narrow range of import trading partners, border closures and labour shortages were all identified as impediments to Australia’s international trade regime, diminishing economic growth and driving down jobs creation. 

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ACCI international director Bryan Clark said the trade survey reflects the chamber’s unequivocal commitment to championing a simple, low-cost regulatory environment that fosters international competitiveness and engagement in trade across the business sector. 

“Encouragingly, the federal government has implemented a number of key reforms in response to the disturbances to international trade we have seen since the beginning of the pandemic; however, far more can be done,” Mr Clark said. 

“The fact that export and import barriers haven’t changed significantly over time, despite a global pandemic, demonstrates the need for the serious reform. We need the federal government to commit to this undertaking, so the business community has the adequate tools to engage globally.” 

 Mr Clark said Australia’s international competitors are advancing while Australian trade regulatory reform stagnates. 

“If we don’t take vital steps to improve our international trade regime now, we will get left even further behind,” he said. 

“By implementing a renewed and recalibrated vision for Australian trade, we can ensure that our businesses remain competitive on the international stage, underpinning our future prosperity.” 

In drawing attention to these strategic concerns, ACCI said it is ambitious for a national dialogue on the reforms required to maintain and enhance the international competitiveness of Australian businesses that resultantly acts to incite change.

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