International affairs

CEDA report: Brexit and Trump mean opportunities for Australia lie in Asia

The rise of protectionism in countries such as the US and UK means Australia needs to focus on increasing investment in emerging markets, such as China and India, CEDA’s latest report, Outbound investment, has found.

“With concern about trade barriers stemming from Brexit and the Trump Presidency, Australia should focus on engagement with its immediate region where economic growth opportunities are substantial,” CEDA Research and Policy Committee Chairman, Professor Rodney Maddock said.

“Outbound investment from Australia is currently more than $540 billion per year and the top three recipients of Australia’s outbound investment are currently the US, the UK and New Zealand.

“However, the amount that flows to China and India combined only accounts for 2.9 per cent of Australia’s total outbound investment.

“These are significant emerging markets with an exploding middle class demanding higher quality products and services. This represents a huge opportunity for Australia.

“Language and significantly different regulatory and operating environments have dissuaded Australian companies in the past but there needs to be more focus on encouraging greater investment in these markets and assistance to smooth risks and barriers.

”Professor Maddock said outbound investment is often viewed negatively as a means of offshoring local jobs.

“In reality, it can deliver significant economic benefits to the Australian economy and in fact create jobs both here in Australia and abroad,” he said.

“Outbound investment by Australian companies can provide access to global value chains and increase demand and awareness of Australian products and services.

“The CEDA report recommends that the Federal Government needs to better articulate the economic benefits of outbound investment.

“Internationally and here in Australia we have seen calls to move away from globalisation. However, the lifting of trade barriers and integration of Australia into the global market place has resulted in the biggest increase in our living standards in history.”

Professor Maddock said the CEDA report also recommends that the Productivity Commission should examine the effects of the Australian taxation system on outbound investment.

“There have been conflicting views on whether the Australian taxation system is biased against outbound investment, in particular the effect of the current dividend imputation system,” he said.

“This should be properly examined as part of the Productivity Commission’s paper on Australia’s trade policy.”

Professor Maddock said Australia has the opportunity to be a premium food provider for Asia and the CEDA report also recommends setting up food processing clusters in Australia, with products then integrated into Asian markets.

“The CEDA report also found there is significant opportunity for Australian outbound investment in distribution systems for chilled and fresh foods in Asia, which remain poor,” he said.

Outbound investment is being launched in Melbourne on Thursday, 27 April, 2017.

Speakers include three contributing report authors:

  • Professor Renée Fry-McKibbin, Professor of Economics, Crawford School of Public Policy; Associate Dean, Research, College of Asia and the Pacific, Australian National University;
  • The Hon. Dr Craig Emerson, Managing Director, Craig Emerson Economics; President, Australia China Business Council NSW; Adjunct Professor, Victoria University College of Business; Columnist, The Australian Financial Review; former Federal Minister for Trade and Competitiveness; and
  • Andrew Parker, Partner and Asia Practice Lead, PWC.

The launch event will be followed by a series of events being held in Sydney, Adelaide, Perth and Brisbane in May.

Read or download Outbound investment

Professor Maddock is available for further comment and interviews.

For more information, please contact:
Roxanne Punton, Director, External Affairs | 0409 532 287 | Email:
Eleanor Green, Media and Communications Advisor | 0422 762 802 | Email:


About CEDA

CEDA – the Committee for Economic Development of Australia – is an independent, not-for-profit membership organisation.

We identify policy issues that matter for Australia’s future. We work to drive policies that deliver better economic, social and environmental outcomes for Australia. We deliver on our purpose by: Leveraging insights from our members to identify and understand the most important issues Australia faces. Facilitating collaboration and idea sharing to invoke imaginative, innovative and progressive policy solutions. Providing a platform to stimulate thinking, raise new ideas and debate critical and challenging issues. Influencing decision makers in government, business and the community by delivering objective information and expert analysis and advocating in support of our positions. CEDA's membership spans every state and territory and includes Australia's leading businesses, community organisations, government departments and academic institutions. The organisation was founded in 1960 by leading economist Sir Douglas Copland, and his legacy of applying economic analysis to practical problems to aid the development of Australia continues as we celebrate 60 years of influence, reform and impact across the nation.;