The five key things for SMEs in the Asian Century white paper

The Federal Government’s Australia in the Asian Century white paper released yesterday set out ambitious goals for Australia’s engagement in Asia.

While the white paper is big on vision, at this stage it lacks a lot of the detail on what the government is going to do to achieve its goals.

We’ve spoken to business groups about what the paper actually means for small business and compiled for you the five key things for your business in the Asian Century white paper.

1. To be ranked in the top five countries for ease of doing business

“Globally, we will be ranked in the top five countries for ease of doing business,” the white paper states.

That’s an ambitious target and Peter Strong, executive director of the Council of Small Business Australia, told SmartCompany “to achieve that they need to concentrate on the small business person not big business.”

“We need to make sure the small business person can actually do something and at the moment there are lots of people in the supply chain who are struggling to survive in Australia,” Strong says.

COSBOA is calling for Australia’s competition policy to be changed in order for business to be able to innovate and look at new markets.

2. Boost productivity into the world’s top 10

“By 2025, Australia’s GDP per person will be in the world’s top 10, up from 13th in 2011, requiring a lift in our productivity,” the white paper states.

Australian Industry Group chief executive Innes Willox said to lift productivity needed the identification of taxation reform, reducing regulatory burdens and an injection of long-term cross-jurisdictional planning and private sector funds to address our infrastructure backlog.

“In all of these areas, delivery of results has proved very difficult to date and we urge all parties and all levels of government to commit to real reforms and real results,” he said.

3. One-third of board members to have deep experience in and knowledge of Asia

“Our leaders will be more Asia literate, with one-third of board members of Australia’s top 200 publicly-listed companies and Commonwealth bodies having deep experience in and knowledge of Asia,” the white paper states.

Paul Drum, head of business and investment policy at CPA Australia, told SmartCompany that while most small businesses are unincorporated, the proposal to be more Asian literate in the board room is likely to filter down.

“I think that is a good initiative. It’s about top 200 companies but it sends a strong message of the steps the government sees as necessary if businesses are to embrace the opportunities of this enormous economy,” he says.

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