The Chamber Of Commerce and Industry of Western Australia (CCI) has called on government to remove barriers to innovation and growth to ensure the state’s manufacturing sector can capture significant international opportunities on its doorstep.

The CCI’s ‘Future of Manufacturing’ paper cites a number of success stories involving manufacturers in WA who have developed high-value, niche products off the back of the state’s thriving resources and agriculture industries.

“There is a misconception that manufacturing is no longer a viable industry in Australia – today’s report shows this is absolutely not the case,” said CCI Chief Executive Officer, Deidre Willmott. “Our research shows that the opportunity now is to move beyond local markets to the global marketplace.”

The Future of Manufacturing paper recommends:

  • Reinstatement of the Federal Government’s R&D Tax Incentive for companies regardless of size.
  • Reform to depreciation rules on assets.
  • A reduction in the company tax rate to 25%.

“For WA manufacturers to seize the opportunities of the urbanisation and development of Asia and the broader Indian Ocean Rim region, the Government must shift its policy agenda away from providing direct assistance to businesses and industries,” added Willmott. “Instead, it should focus on getting the broader policy settings right to allow the sector to prosper in its own right. This means encouraging growth in the sector through policies that incentivise R&D, help businesses to access markets overseas, and improve our competitiveness through tax reform and the removal of regulatory barriers.”

Currently, the manufacturing sector is a significant component of WA’s export base, representing 17% of the state’s export earnings. It is also a major employer, providing work for more than 91,000 people across the state.

The release of the paper comes as CCI members, including local manufacturers, prepare to join a Federal Government trade mission to India with Minister for Trade and Investment Andrew Robb. Willmott said India was a particularly important market.

“There are opportunities throughout Asia for WA’s manufacturing industry to build on our growing expertise in resources and agriculture production,” she said. “Perth is a trade gateway for Indian Ocean Rim countries so we are very well positioned globally to take advantage of opportunities in these markets – particularly India, one of the world’s fastest growing economies.”