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The ECA's pre-election priorities for trade 2016

The ECA's pre-election priorities for trade 2016 article image

Ahead of the upcoming Federal Election, the Export Council of Australia (ECA) is calling for government to address issues pertinent to its members and the broader international trade community.

We hope to see these recommendations reflected in the elected Government’s trade policy agenda moving forward.

The ECA believes the Australian Government needs to focus on long-term strategic policies that promote two-way investment, open doors for Australian companies in international markets, improve the competitive landscape here at home, and leverage best practice in trade promotion.

Strategic investment can be used to effectively assist companies looking to take advantage of the many global opportunities that are being created through Australia’s liberalising trade agreements.

The ECA’s recommendations include:

  • Investing in expanding the FTA Dashboard to cover all existing FTA’s in 2016/17.
  • Pushing for the conclusion of TiSA and the WTO Government Procurement Agreement in 2016 so the benefits of the agreement can be realised as soon as practicable.
  • Focusing more resources on addressing non-tariff barriers (NTBs) to trade. This should include adequately resourcing DFAT and DAWR to enable effective progress to be made on removing these barriers.
  • Exploring new mechanisms to allow companies to report NTBs and better communicate how they might be addressed through government-to-government channels.
  • Improving freight movement efficiency from regional areas in order to reduce metropolitan congestion and freight costs should be a priority.
  • The recommendation in the National Infrastructure Plan for a national freight and supply chain strategy should be a genuinely comprehensive strategy crossing borders.
  • Consider developing a “patent box” style initiative—consistent with the G20-OECD guidelines in relation to Base Erosion and Profit Shifting—to provide a concessional tax rate on profits derived from qualifying Intellectual property (IP) that has an Australian nexus.
  • Maintaining and adequately funding the pathways from R&D to commercialisation to allow Australian companies to successfully realise the benefit of shared investment in R&D.
  • Maintaining a continued focus on the deregulation agenda in Australia, particularly in the agricultural sector.
  • Undertaking a feasibility study for the adoption of a single window for trade in Australia and allocate adequate funding for its implementation, which the ECA believes the feasibility study will support.
  • That the budget allocation for EMDG be progressively increased by $12.4 million per year over the next three years (2016-2017 to 2018-2019) to $175 million (EMDG Recommendation 6).
  • That the government augment Austrade’s budget with a new amount equivalent to 5 per cent of the EMDG administered funds, thus freeing up the entirety of the EMDG funding, currently $137.9 million, for export promotion grants (EMDG Recommendation 6.1).
  • That separate provision, in addition to the EMDG administration budget and grant amounts, be made for replacement of, or upgrades to, Austrade’s IT system (EMDG Recommendation 6.2). The ECA recommends that an amount of roughly $8.5 million dollars be allocated to the IT system upgrade.
  • That Austrade receive additional funding to the amount of $10 million over 3 years to continue development and implementation a coordinated brand strategy for Australia—in consultation with industry – as supported by the Tourism Minister Richard Colbeck.
  • Trialing a tailored service export support program, initially focused on priority sectors and key markets, and then integrating common elements into a wider services platform.

To view the full list of recommendations click here.

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