National

Business lobby says Asia key to recovery

By AAP Newswire

Australia should embrace Asia as a key trading partner as the global economy shrinks due to the economic impact of the coronavirus.

The Business Council of Australia says the country needs to take advantage of growing markets in Southeast Asia and China.

"If we get this right, Australia can emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic well positioned for another three decades," chief executive Jennifer Westacott said.

In a report released on Friday, the council pointed to the lack of business investment in Asia.

Businesses put $83 billion into the New Zealand economy in 2019, compared with $74 billion across all of Asia combined that same year.

"It isn't just governments that need to adapt and change, businesses must work to understand their markets," Ms Westacott said.

An Asian century was not inevitable despite challenges to the US-led global order, the report said.

It said China and Vietnam, which are showing signs of economic growth despite the fallout of the virus, provide the best opportunities.

The council's Asia task force made a number of recommendations for businesses to entice investors.

Cutting red tape, more migrant workers to address skills shortages and fast-tracked foreign investment reviews would speed up Asian interest in Australia.

Australia should work on its "brand", with its well-received handling of the coronavirus a measure of its bona fides.

State and federal governments would also need to lift their game when it came to helping small and medium business spruik their wares in Asia.

But investment in Asia shouldn't solely focus on China, Australia's largest trading partner, the report said.

"It's critical we penetrate our existing markets in Asia more deeply," task force chair Mark Van Dyck said.