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Export-led growth for Canberra

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By Neil Primrose

In Canberra’s now predominantly private sector economy, exports are increasingly driving our growth.

Development of an export culture isn’t surprising, given Canberra’s strong international orientation as Australia’s national capital and the strong and extensive work of the Australian Government internationally in both policy and operational work.

That policy work has included working with the governments of our trading partners to reduce barriers to entry and open their markets to Australian products and services. Since the mid 1980s, this has seen the development of highly successful partnerships between Australian Government and business to grow our national income from overseas trade.

And the contribution of Austrade to the development of local businesses succeeding as exporters in the face tough international competition has been huge.

It’s pleasing the see the ACT Government also engaging in an increasingly effective partnership with local exporters, working alongside them at they move into fresh markets to help overcome official indifference and to open doors into new relationships with customers and business partners.

This kind of partnership between government and business is far more important in overseas markets than many people at home realise. Business people in other countries tend to accord significantly greater respect to the position and stature of visiting government ministers than we’re used to doing in Australia. Hence the significant role that successive ACT Chief Ministers and other political leaders have been able to play in support of local businesses opening up overseas markets.

The present Chief Minister, John Stanhope, was particularly effective in his leadership of the recent ACT Trade Mission to India. He paved the way for numerous introductions to Indian business leaders that would not have happened if the ACT businesses had not had such visible and official support in the person of the Chief Minister. We ought not to underestimate the value of governments working in partnership with local businesses.

The participants on the Trade Mission to India are now busily engaged in following up their contacts and the business leaders are very appreciative of the role the Chief Minister played. Those who are planning to be in the forthcoming trade mission to China need the same support and are looking forward to the Chief Minister working with them as the leader of Team ACT.

The bottom line for the community is that growth in exports from the ACT creates additional jobs in the ACT, as well as bringing new skills into our economy. It ensures our companies operating overseas are operating at world best practice. This high standard flows back to local operations, so increasing competitiveness even of those businesses that are not exporting.

The general increase in business activity also flows back to the community through increased GST returns that go to pay for our facilities and services, such as schools, hospitals, parks and all the other things that are paid for from the ACT Government’s revenues.

So our growing export culture benefits all of us.

On another matter, as foreshadowed in the March article, the Council’s paper on the taxi shambles has been submitted to the ACT Government and is now posted on the Business Council’s website at www.canberrabusinesscouncil.com.au

Dr. Neil Primrose chairs the Action Agenda Co-ordination Group of the Canberra Business Council and its kindred organisations.

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