Business back in holding pattern on border reopening

CCIWA CEO

Chris Rodwell

The Chamber of Commerce and Industry WA (CCIWA) is again calling on the State Government to outline the pre-conditions for the reopening of Western Australia’s economy, following its decision this evening to indefinitely delay the reopening of WA’s borders.

The decision puts Western Australian businesses back in a holding pattern, trying to work out when and how to prepare for a reopening.

It is critical the Government provide clarity as soon as possible on a new date, as well as the conditions under which businesses should expect to operate. We should not underestimate how difficult this news is to digest for thousands of WA businesses that rely deeply on markets outside of their home State.

While we recognise the WA economy has performed comparatively well over the pandemic period, businesses in the international education, tourism, events and other sectors will be deeply disappointed with the announcement, as will those businesses looking forward to seeing some relief to acute skill shortages and supply chain pressures.

More generally, businesses have been relying on the certainty of the February 5 date, with various operational decisions and investments made on this basis.

CCIWA’s members have clearly identified that uncertainty around the plan to reopen the economy is their biggest concern.

The delay also provides strong argument that some businesses experiencing long term decline as a result of the hard border will require financial support.

While we recognise that other States are facing immediate health pressures, businesses in these States will also be the first to emerge from the current wave of COVID infections and have a clear advantage in redeveloping important national and international markets. WA faces the prospect now of trailing by many months in re-engaging with critical markets. Ultimately, this puts a handbrake on growth and diversification of our economy.

As always, CCIWA stands ready to work constructively with the State Government to address and resolve the administrative and cost barriers which remain in place as businesses seek to continue their operations.

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