The Chamber of Commerce and Industry WA (CCI) has commended today’s release of the Commonwealth Government’s 2017 Foreign Policy White Paper which will play a significant role in boosting Western Australia’s economic growth and trade relations.

CCI Chief Executive Officer Deidre Willmott said WA’s prosperity is underpinned by stability in the Asia-Pacific region and a strategic commitment to an open global economy and the international rule of law.

“Today’s commitment by the Government to trade liberalisation and free markets is welcome news to businesses that have been concerned about the state of domestic and global politics and Australia’s place in a globalised economy,” Ms Willmott said.

“It is vital that Australia stays true to our free trade principles. As an export-driven economy that relies on exports for prosperity, free trade must remain the key to strengthening our economy for future generations.”

According to the White Paper, $337 billion in export income was injected into the Australian economy in 2016, while one in five jobs rely on trade, and one in seven jobs rely on exports.

“We know that demand from Asia for minerals and energy, including LNG, coal, iron ore, gold, alumina, copper, nickel and zinc will continue, as well as their need for premium agriculture products,” Ms Willmott said.

“With WA now accounting for more than 40 per cent of Australia’s merchandise exports, and our agriculture and food sector making up 10 per cent of the state’s economy and employing more than 30,000 people, it is clear that WA is best positioned to meet this demand.

“If China is successful in implementing its one-belt one-road policy, the state will also be well placed to take advantage of this export opportunity which will drive significant infrastructure investment in our region.

“It is critical that the Government follows through with its strategy of having the lowest possible barriers to trade and investment, including through modern free trade agreements, and continues to work with both business and state governments to capitalise on the economic and job-boosting opportunities that Asia’s growth presents.

“CCI has welcomed the Government’s commitment to work with business to advance their commercial interests in overseas markets, and to expand our Free Trade Agreement (FTA) network to 80 per cent of trade by 2020.

“We have also welcomed the WA State Government’s Asia engagement strategy, including their recent investment of $2.75 million in resources and trade events, to help boost the state’s business growth into Asia.

“As WA’s peak business body, CCI looks forward to continuing to work with the Commonwealth and WA State Government’s, and industry to untap WA’s export potential.”