Five surprising ways Australia could improve its dismal global trade ranking

Australia's performance in global trade is falling and needs a boost. Here are a few ideas the government may not have thought of yet.

Once again, Australia’s international trade performance has been found wanting: Australia ranked 23rd out of 138 countries in the World Economic Forum’s global "enabling trade" index, released earlier this week. At face value, the score doesn’t seem so bad, but don’t forget that we ranked 17th in 2012, and 14th back in 2009. Even New Zealand is thrashing us, ranking 4th in this year’s report. Ai Group’s Innes Willox is right in saying that the Australian government needs to work on improving our trade performance.

But how can we do this?

Well, we could lower tariff complexity and improve trade transparency. Currently, we rank 43rd in terms of tariff complexity and 22nd in terms of border control administration and transparency.

Would this be enough?

It’s a little bit devious, but if the Abbott government really wants to boost its rank for the next study without making any major changes to trade tariffs, it could look at the other factors that impact the index, like business access to internet.

That’s right, the World Economic Forum’s study measures more than just trade factors. It incorporates a number of different variables to produce the one ranking. So on that note, here are five of the oddest changes that the government could make in a bid to improve our global trade index ranking.

1. Crack down on homicide

And in the process, cut the amount of crime-based TV documentaries.

2. Maintain and improve our anti-terrorism policies

More airport security inbound.

3. Reinforce our intellectual property protections

Move over Hollywood, Australia needs greater IP protections too.

4. Improve our e-government initiatives

New computers for all government staffers!

5. Whip our telcos into signing up more mobile subscriptions

Everybody now needs two mobile plans each, no exceptions!

Of course the study is weighted, so these factors have less of an impact on the index than those directly related to trade.

But it does illustrate why it’s important to actually look behind the headline figures for these global studies... and it goes to show that the government may not necessarily need to improve trade policy to increase our global trade ranking.

Got a question? Contact the reporter @HarrisonPolites on Twitter or leave a comment below.

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