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Be competitive, or lose Asian interest: ACCI chief exec
15/06/2012 - The chief executive of the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Peter Anderson, has urged Australian industry to become more competitive or else lose the interest of global investors in supporting the Australian manufacturing industry.
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Anderson called for a more rational and supportive community attitude towards Asian investment, warning against a "snobbish or neo-colonial" attitude to investment from the east compared to the western nations.
He applauded the political leadership shown by Trade Minister Craig Emerson over the past week in speaking of the benefits of Asian investment in the Australian economy.
He warned that Europe had "slipped backwards" over the past year, and was now divided over the solution to its woes, let alone its implementation.
Anderson was addressing the national conference of ACCI member, the Plastics and Chemicals Industry Association in Sydney.
"It is true that we must speak positively about our good fortune and the things we are doing well," he said.
"But we must also speak openly about why we still see Australian manufacturing move to Asia, why some food manufacturers see New Zealand as a better destination for doing business, and why we struggle to secure overseas investment in Australian manufacturing."
"Neither Asia nor China are waiting for Australia to come to them, nor will they delay capital investment until we get our house in order. They are getting on with business."
"Investors such as Dr. Fang of the Shanghai Municipal Government Financial Services Office raised directly with me questions about Australia's high cost structure and onerous employment regulation, even to the point of asking about the capacity of local Australian employers to sanction poor performing staff. Clearly our labour market regulation does matter to overseas investors."
"The most profound message was a concern from the Asian end that Australia doesn't fully understand the mutuality involved in trade and commerce. That we want to have our our cake and eat it too. That we want Asian nations to give the green light to Australian companies to access their markets, to invest in their property and sell to their customers, but we turn a bit icy to Asian investment on our shores."
"It wasn't just Dr Fang who was telling me our manufacturing industry lacked competiveness. It was also my own members.
A copy of Anderson's address, "Who Will Invest in Australian Manufacturing?" can be found at www.acci.asn.au.
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