Transcript: Behind the Benchmark Report

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Mark Thirlwell: Economics does a couple of major projects each year. One of those is the Benchmark Report, and basically what the Benchmark Report is, it’s a collection of data, charts and information that we pull together and try to make a compelling case for why you want to do business with Australia. But to pull all that together, to get all those charts, the data and the analysis, a key role is played by my colleague, Edmund Tang.

Edmund Tang: It’s important work. I like the work, particularly the environment in Austrade, to work with all the different teams across the whole organisation.

Mark Thirlwell: Edmund has this incredible ability to pull together this diverse range of data. He’s been looking at all these numbers and these statistics for so long he knows the sources really well, he knows the comparisons really well. If you ask him a question about where does that number come from or which comparison should we use, he’ll know the answer.
The context in which we’re talking about the report changes quite a lot. If you think a few years ago the kind of context would have been big resource boom, high investment rates that were driving domestic growth in the Australian economy, high terms of trade, a very strong Australian dollar which had implications for our competitiveness outside the resource sector, and the global context I guess in the immediate aftermath of the financial crisis where you had this two-speed global economy. Most of the developed world is very sluggish, much of the emerging world where Australia’s trading in particular, led by China, is very dynamic and that’s the kind of context.

If you then think about where we are now you can see that that context has changed quite a lot. The investment boom is coming to an end, commodity prices over the last year and in particular over the last few months have fallen really sharply, they’ve pulled the Australian dollar down with them and that has, if it’s sustained anyway, quite important implications for our competitiveness.

So what the Benchmark Report in 2015 does is it says is here are all our traditional strengths, here is our ability to adapt the new version of the world economy that we’re living in, put those things together and yet again you see Australia is a really attractive partner - great place to do business, great place to invest, great country to trade with.