Skip to main content

Business envoy July 2021

International co-operation at the heart of trade openness and diversification

Trade diversification creates new and expanded international business opportunities, and builds more agile, resilient, and sustainable businesses. Australia is working in and with the world’s key economic institutions to increase openness and certainty in the international trading environment – opening new opportunities for Australian business.

The decision to diversify trade ultimately belongs to individual businesses, however, the government has an important role to play in creating and maintaining an enabling environment which provides a level of certainty.

Creating a conducive trade and investment environment for business requires both domestic policy support and international cooperation. Internationally, the Australian Government advocates market openness and predictability and seeks to minimize market distortion – the conditions that provide Australian businesses the best chance at success. It is important that our effort is underpinned by a strong multilateral rules-based trading system with the WTO at its core. The Australian Government uses multilateral fora such as the G20, OECD and APEC to promote and defend this system. In each of these fora, our central goal is to support fair and open markets. We advocate meaningful reforms of the WTO to improve its ability to manage and enforce trading rules that keep markets functioning and Australian business in the game.

The G20 brings together the world’s major economies. Its members account for more than 80 per cent of world GDP, 75 per cent of global trade and 60 per cent of the world’s population. Australia uses the G20 to build consensus on policies that liberalise trade and promote the global rules-based trading system.

This year, in the G20 Trade and Investment Working Group, Australia is working to build political momentum for WTO reform and ambitious outcomes at the 12th WTO Ministerial Conference in December 2021. We are also advocating for an open and free trading environment to help strengthen our supply chain resilience and boost our exports of goods and services. Success will ultimately reduce transaction costs and create greater certainty for business.

The OECD works with its 38 member countries and invited partners to develop evidence-based international standards and norms to assist in finding solutions to a range of social, economic and environmental challenges. In his first speech as Secretary General, former Australian Finance Minister, Mathias Cormann reaffirmed the organisation’s commitment to market-based economic principles, a global level playing field and a rules-based international order.

Australia uses the OECD’s expertise to inform our domestic policy setting. OECD’s tailored research into the competitiveness of our services sector led to the development of the Government’s Services Exports Action Plan which was launched on 6 April 2021. The Plan outlines immediate actions to help Australia’s economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic and long-term goals for strengthening the competitiveness of Australian service suppliers.

The Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum (APEC) supports a wide array of technical expertise, capacity building and policy dialogue between its 21 member economies to support trade, investment and growth outcomes. Australia is focused on delivering practical projects to support economic recovery in response to COVID-19, as well as ongoing support for fair and open markets.

For example, the Australia-led APEC project ‘Building Resilient Supply Chains 2020: Survey and Analysis’, surveyed business and industry stakeholders to identify the levels of disruption, resilience, and adaptability of supply chains. Greater understanding of these issues from a business perspective helps our government and others in our region to put in place better policies to overcome them.

Multilateral economic institutions provide important platforms to negotiate reforms in an ever-changing and evolving world. The Australian Government will continue to advocate policies that support growth and new business opportunities for Australian businesses.

Global connections. Image credit: iStock
Back to top