Date issued: 23 October 2012
CPA Australia has called for greater integration with Asia in order to boost Australia’s international competitiveness and take advantage of the Asian Century.
CPA Australia launched its survey report today, Australia's competitiveness survey: Preliminary findings, which shows that Australia's lack of integration with Asia is affecting its ability to compete internationally.
Australian respondents typically placed a relatively low level of importance on access to, and knowledge of, Asian markets and bilingual staff, while overseas respondents generally rated Australia as relatively poor in its knowledge of Asia and its languages.
"This discord should act as a wake-up call for Australia to realise that it may not be as closely integrated with Asia as it believes," says CPA Australia CEO Alex Malley. "Furthermore, Australia's apparent disengagement from Asia and the lack of Asian literacy in the broader population is a distinct competitive disadvantage.
"As we await the government’s much-anticipated Asian Century white paper, CPA Australia has shown that far from being ready to take advantage of the Asian Century, Australia is well behind in beginning this journey," says Mr Malley.
The report explores initial findings of a survey of more than 6000 business decision-makers in Australia and internationally, and was conducted by Professor Michael Enright, a world expert on country competitiveness. The report shows that:
"Geographic distance may not be a handicap, but our cultural distance is. There is a strong risk that without a change in mindset from Australian business, Australia will be a peripheral player in the Asian Century," says Mr Malley. "As the rules of the competitiveness game change, it's imperative we begin to take tangible steps to ensure Australia is actually a player, rather than a spectator."
CPA Australia has put forward recommendations for the government and suggestions for business to address the issue, which include the following:
The survey results also indicate there is an unhealthy reliance by business on government to solve competitiveness issues.
"What we have is a chicken and egg problem – that is, until business realises that more of its future lies in Asia, it will not seek Asian capable workers in any great numbers, yet it is unlikely to come to that conclusion without Asian capable workers," says Mr Malley. "The role of governments must therefore focus on increasing the supply of Asian capable workers, as such workers are essential in shifting Australia to an internationally-focused economy."
The report also examined other key drivers in Australia’s ability to compete in business, including:
"Australia cannot rely on its luck indefinitely and needs to move from the Lucky Country to the Competitive Country," says Mr Malley. "We need to ensure we focus on mechanisms to create wealth rather than simply redistributing the wealth from the resources boom. Our integration with Asia is a central mechanism to ensuring productivity and long-term economic growth."
The survey (on which the report is based) garnered the views of more than 6000 business decision-makers in Australia and internationally and is believed to be the most extensive of its kind in Australia. CPA Australia commissioned Professor Michael Enright, one of the world’s leading figures in competitiveness research, to develop the survey. Professor Enright is Sun Hung Kai Professor at the University of Hong Kong and a Harvard alumnus. Professor Enright has been based in Asia since 1996 and is uniquely situated to assess the potential impact of a rising Asia on Australia’s economy.
The final report on Australia’s international competitiveness will be available shortly. For enquiries please contact Licardo Prince, External affairs executive (business issues, sustainability and climate change), at firstname.lastname@example.org or +61 3 9606 9746.