Currently accounting for close to 10 per cent of WA businesses and generating about $5 billion in 2014-15, the growth of the WA agriculture sector will be enabled by the emerging Asian middle class and increasing urbanisation driving regional demand for food safety.
CCI's Future of Manufacturing paper calls on the State Government to create a 'game changer' for agribusiness across WA by facilitating greater innovation and economic development at the ‘grassroots’ of industry, while creatively leveraging Government resources.
- The Premier should appoint a Minister for Economic Development to coordinate integrated strategy and outcomes for priority sectors of the economy, including agribusiness.
- A Minister for Economic Development (or State Development) should commission a strategic international trade and investment plan to regain a competitive edge with other Australian states. Among other things, this plan will identify priority markets, design bespoke bilateral engagement strategies to better direct Trade Office performance, and set specific performance targets, including for investment attraction and economic growth.
- As an inaugural part of this new international engagement strategy, agribusiness should be named as a priority for development.
- The Treasurer should refer an inquiry to the Economic Regulation Authority to examine the impact of all regulatory settings across government on agribusiness, to deal with excessive regulations set before Regulatory Impact Assessments were introduced.
- To improve foreign investment outcomes, the Commonwealth Treasurer should accept the Productivity Commission’s recommendation to return the thresholds for foreign investment in agribusinesses and agricultural land to the same level as other ‘sensitive’ business areas ($252 million) as soon as possible.
- The State Government should implement policy settings that will meaningfully strengthen Western Australia’s ‘post-farm gate’, or food manufacturing, industry. Food value-adding creates high levels of skilled jobs, and connects regional production with metropolitan supply chains.
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