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Govt's proactive industry statement good for business

04 May, 2007

"The Government's Global Integration initiative released by the Prime Minister in Sydney is an innovative approach that responds to the challenges and opportunities of ongoing globalisation," Australian Industry Group Chief Executive Heather Ridout has said.

"Global Integration is a well-targeted and proactive package of industry policy measures that will win the strong support of Australian business. Many of the measures adopted by the Government have been advocated by Ai Group over the past year in the wake of our ground-breaking report Manufacturing Futures: Achieving Global Fitness.  Ai Group's report pointed to the considerable efforts by businesses in response to the twin pressures of intensifying competition from emerging economies such as China and India and the sharply higher Australian currency.

"The initiatives contained in the Global Integration package are particularly relevant for businesses in the manufacturing and services sectors for which these pressures are most acute.

"Ai Group particularly welcomes the proposal to create Productivity Centres around the country to evaluate business needs and opportunities and to assist them to make productivity-enhancing investments. The initiative draws on Ai Group's Industry Statement submission which contained proposals to improve Australia's business capabilities - especially for small and medium sized businesses," Ridout said.

"The Global Opportunities program to foster greater export activity and other forms of international engagement also picks up on proposals put forward by Ai Group in the context of the expanding opportunities for Australian participation in global supply chains and networks. The enhanced role of the Export Finance and Insurance Corporation (EFIC) and the boost to the number of export facilitators in the US will further support domestic businesses in their efforts to expand their horizons.

"Another advance adopted by the Global Integration package is the relaxation of eligibility for the 175 percent component of the Research and Development Tax Concession so that businesses will be able to claim the tax concession when intellectual property is held offshore. The relaxation recognises the increasingly global nature of Australian business and the strengths of our R&D capabilities. As detailed in our Industry Statement submission, Ai Group believes there is room for further enhancements to the scheme as well as in other areas such as export support under the EMDG Scheme, and we will continue to actively discuss these with the Government.

"The proposal to expand the Commercial Ready program to stimulate innovative micro businesses and the measure to extend the Intermediary Access program are both important enhancements to Australia's innovation system.

"With some of the details of delivery still to be fleshed out, Ai Group looks forward to working closely with the Government to help businesses take full advantage of the benefits they promise. Ai Group will also be looking to the Federal Budget next week for other measures to boost our competitiveness, including in the area of taxation," Ridout said.

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