Business Envoy February 2022
Boosting the competitiveness of Australian services exports
Expanding the global reach of world-class Australian service businesses is at the heart of Australia's Services Exports Action Plan, the first international strategy to boost services exports beyond tourism and international education.
Services exports make up around 20 per cent of Australia's total exports and there are ample opportunities to further expand. In 2018, the OECD found that Australia's services industry was one of the most domestically focused of all OECD countries. The Action Plan aims to change this by supporting services exporters and improving their international competitiveness.
COVID-19 has fast-tracked the shift to online services and shown the benefits of adopting digital processes across the services sector, including telemedicine, work from home and paperless processes.
The Action Plan empowers Australian business, leverages our comparative advantages and identifies international opportunities. Co- developed by industry and government, it lays out a strategic framework to grow services exports and increase the competitiveness of Australian services exporters in the global marketplace.
In developing the Action Plan, industry made 72 recommendations to improve the international competitiveness of Australia's services sector. Eighty-two actions have been identified for implementation by government, industry or jointly by government and industry. These actions fall under five outcomes which form the backbone of Australia's policy on services exports:
- free and open international trade in services
- best practice systems and rules across Australia
- world-class skills and talent
- cutting-edge and internationalised services
- information-driven policies and business strategies.
At October 2021, work had commenced on 77 of the 82 actions, with 58 updates demonstrating progress across all five objectives. Highlights include the release of the Digital Economy Strategy, expansion of Australia's mutual recognition agreements, development of an export market profiles tool and commitment to modernise Australia's tax treaty network.
The pace of work continues with the establishment of a Low Emissions Technologies and Services Working Group. The working group is focused on ensuring Australia is well positioned to showcase its innovative and solutions-driven expertise across this emerging sector and build our international presence. Industry members of the working group are now developing and refining recommendations for government consideration and incorporation into the Action Plan.