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Australia needs to pivot its approach to trade and investment

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The Joint Standing Committee on Trade and Investment Growth has released its report Pivot: Diversifying Australia’s Trade and Investment Profile, which examined how the Australian Government could support businesses to diversify Australia’s trade markets and sources of foreign investment.

” It is now more than ever it was important that Australia takes the opportunity to pivot towards new export markets and trade and investment opportunities, to support sustainable economic growth over the long term,” Chair George said.

‘The Committee has recommended that the Government develop a plan for trade diversification and examine options to expand domestic investment and production. These reforms will protect Australia from the risks of having too many eggs in one basket,,” Chair George said.

‘Diversifying the range of products and services that Australia exports, including through greater support for future-focused and innovative industries, will further ensure Australia is not overexposed to trade disruptions or shocks in any one export market.’

Chairman George added that the Committee’s recommendations were also aimed at protecting Australia’s national interest and national security, particularly in sensitive and critical sectors.

The Committee made 21 recommendations including developing and releasing a plan for trade diversification and continuing to create trade opportunities including in India, Vietnam and through the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership agreement, increasing industry awareness of national security and national interest risks related to trade and investment, particularly for sensitive and critical sectors, investigating new options for increasing domestic funding for universities, requiring universities to publicly disclose the receipt of funding from foreign state linked bodies or individuals, and where the veto powers in Australia’s Foreign Relations (State and Territory Arrangements) Act 2020 allow, considering restrictions to foreign state-linked funding to Australian universities where the funding is not considered to be in the national interest, increasing Australia’s sovereign manufacturing capacity and ensuring that Australia has adequate supplies of key resources
Greater support for the ‘industries of tomorrow’, a clear and consistent definition of the national interest for foreign investment
Reporting on whether the leasing of the Port of Darwin to a foreign company will be subject to the Australia’s Foreign Relations (State and Territory Arrangements) Act 2020, and options for greater domestic investment, including through superannuation funds and consideration of a national development bank.

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