Australia unable to compete at the top
Australia’s international competitiveness ranking has fallen to fifteen, ten places lower than it was two years ago, a new report has revealed.
The report, released by the IMD World Competitiveness Center, shows Australia trailing behind Hong Kong, the United States, and Switzerland.
“Being number fifteen is simply not good enough in a country blessed with resources, good education, and natural ability,” said Ian Murray, executive director of the Export Council of Australia.
The rankings are determined through the examining of 329 criteria, one third of which come from an IMD survey of more than 4200 international executives.
“Australia’s exports are being strangled by the high cost of labour, red tape upon red tape, duplication of Government regulation, the GFC, and of course, the high Aussie dollar,” said Murray.
A recent paper prepared by the Export Council of Australia argued that while the resources sector is booming, even it is being hamstrung by unnecessary regulation and high taxes.
Difficulty in securing labour, which has led to the debate about ‘guest labour’, is an issue that may result in the slowdown of projects vital to Australia’s wellbeing.
“Diversity of exports was a key factor in assisting Australia to handle the GFC, and it will continue to be a factor in the future,” Murray said.
The chief executive of the Committee for Economic Development in Australia (CEDA), Professor Stephen Martin, believes that Australia needs increased investment in skills, a view echoed by the Export Council.
“Government needs to promote skills development, focus on skilled migration…and most importantly attack over-regulation and trade facilitation costs,” said Murray.
“Companies must focus on innovation driven by excellence in research and development that will strengthen their competitive advantage and enhance their margins.”
Murray said the key to improving Australia’s international competitiveness lies in government and business working together to “realise the potential we have sitting right at our feet, even if that means making decisions that some sectors won’t like.”