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Airport Economist helps Aust exporters conquer global markets

13 June, 2008

Did you know that Australia is helping Singapore 'be creative' to address its imbalance of ballet dancers to engineers; or that there is a Transylvanian Cricket Club full of Aussies in Romania; or French are buying Billabong board shorts in Bordeaux on Bastille Day?

If you did not know this, then the Airport Economist, the new book by Austrade’s Chief Economist, Tim Harcourt, as economic tour guide, offers a witty and informative book targeting ‘punters’ with the aim to motivate and equip business people with export market information to help achieve export success.
“The Airport Economist is essentially Australia’s answer to the US best seller, Freakonomics, with an export angle thrown in,” Harcourt said.
This lively, entertaining and incisive read will be launched by Deputy Prime Minister of Australia, Julia Gillard, a fellow Adelaide Unley High School past pupil on Tuesday, 10 June in Sydney at The American Club.
“The Airport Economist is fundamentally about Australians successfully engaging in the global economy from Mary Nenke, a Yabbie farmer in Kukerin, to Kath & Kim.  Australia has plenty to be proud of in our export success,” Harcourt said.
“We can compete globally and many of our 44,000 strong Australian exporting companies have and continue to demonstrate this, especially since export success aboard means better living standards for the rest of us back home or as Kath and Kim put it in the final chapter of the book ‘Exporting makes you effluent,” he said.
“But even with a high dollar, increasing global fuel prices and geo-political instability out there, exporters and would-be exporters need to know that they are not alone out there.
“Help can be provided by Austrade, EFIC and the like, and as The Airport Economist shows, exporters who stick at it, do succeed. It’s a matter of showing the big ‘P’ for persistence and using the government architecture when needed – particularly in emerging markets,” Harcourt said.
Harcourt said increasing global engagement is good for business, good for workers and ultimately the whole Australian community.  “As a labour market economist I have found that exporters, on average, pay higher wages, provide better working conditions, invest in education and training and provide more job security than non-exporters,” he said.
The Airport Economist is arranged as one continuous journey starting from Sydney and heading to Singapore and ending up in Santiago by trekking through Asia, the Middle East, Africa, Europe and ending up in the Americas.  It concludes with a focus on how award winning comedy show Kath and Kim has become the latest Australian export gem.
The book offers a combination of economic research, empirical observations, anecdotes and interviews with exporters, business people, celebrities, government officials and sports people as it hopes to break down the economic jargon for students and aspiring small business exporters.
“I believe that economics education is very important for the future of this country. Economics should be accessible, easy to read and most of all exciting and I hope that The Airport Economist helps demonstrate this,” he said.
The Airport Economist, published by Allen & Unwin, is available at all book stores around the country, especially airport bookstores.

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