Free trade, open markets and foreign investment vital for post-pandemic recovery

Foreign investment rules must encourage further investment to sustain and grow the mining sector and generate the jobs needed for Australia’s recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Australia’s national interest is as an open trading nation supporting multinational trade, co-operation and a transparent and non-discriminatory investment framework which recognises the contribution of trade and foreign investment to national security, quality jobs, stronger communities and economic growth.

The mining industry needs at least $7 billion of investment a year to maintain the existing stock of production, sustaining jobs particularly in regional areas and supporting economic activity.

More investment – not less – is essential to support a sustained recovery, which will not be helped by maintaining temporary measures designed to deal with pandemic-related disruption to markets and trade.

The MCA’s submission to the Joint Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Inquiry into the implications of the COVID-19 pandemic notes that open markets, reduced trade barriers and securing foreign investment have never been more important to Australia as the nation begins to recover economically and socially from COVID-19.

The success of Australia and our region, future job creation and the standard of living of all Australians depends on the continuation of free trade and the welcoming of foreign investment.

Trade and investment have been vitally important to the Australian labour market, accounting for 42 per cent of economic output and supporting one in every five Australian jobs.

Over the past 35 years, trade liberalisation has increased the income of the average Australian family household by an estimated $8,448 per year – including workers in heavily export-focused industries like agriculture, minerals and energy, along with many thousands of employees who work to bring imported goods into Australia and distribute them to consumers and businesses.

In particular, trade liberalisation and foreign investment in the resources sector have created an extraordinary boon for Australia – with resources exports at a record high of $289 billion in 2019, or 58 per cent of Australia’s total export revenue. Mining and the mining equipment, technology and services sector directly and indirectly support one in ten Australian jobs.

There is an opportunity to grow these benefits. Australia needs to attract more international investment to stimulate its economy, create new high paying jobs, create and harness new opportunities, technology and knowhow, expand its exports and operate in offshore jurisdictions.

 

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