Trade liberalization has made a significant contribution to the strength of the Australian economy.

The commitment to remaining an open economy and advocate for globalisation has meant that Australia’s GDP is 8.1% higher and real exports 34% higher than they would have been if we had remained a closed economy with barriers to imports, investment and migration.

However, we should not underestimate the challenges facing global businesses in dealing with this new world in which old battles remain and the World Trade Organisation (WTO) estimates that world trade could decline by between 13% and 32% in 2020.

While trade is an important component of global growth, events in the USA and UK have brought to light the negative impact of globalization and economic structural changes on segments of their respective populations. Similar demographics can also be found in Australia. If we believe in the economic and political value of an open and connected economy, we should welcome the opportunity to defend these principles and be a global advocate for the benefits of Trade.

However, we also need to ensure that our companies are competing on a level playing field and be actively defending their interests when our trading partners increase their protectionist activities.

Migration has also been critical to Australian prosperity. The pandemic has necessarily constrained inward migration, but Australia would need to think long and hard before any decision to sustain lower levels over the longer term. That would require extensive changes to our growth model and much more.


Louise McGrath
National Manager Business & International Advisory Services

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