Australia dollar
A handful of Australian one dollar coins is shown in Sydney, February 18, 2004. Reuters/Tim Wimborne

The Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI) has called for making the country’s economic competitiveness stronger to prevent its global influence from hurting. In addition, the group also suggests more measures be taken to pursue policy interests in the Indian Ocean rim.

According to ACCI, which made its suggestions in a submission to the foreign policy white paper, the nation will face challenge as other countries rise in global economic rankings. “Australia needs to ensure we are on a trajectory to regain and cement our position as a leading global economy. Failure to do so creates the risk we will become less influential in global forums such as the United Nations, World Trade Organisation and G20,” the group said.

“This will mean other nations will have greater opportunity to shape the global environment within which we and our economic lifelines — international flows of goods and services, capital and people — operate,” it added. Enhancement of competitiveness, as the group notes, can be achieved through increasing involvement in negotiating trade treaties and levelling their engagement in Indian Ocean rim countries as in the Asia-Pacific.

ACCI noted Australia is currently the 19th largest economy in the world. By 2050, however, it is expected to fall down to the 28th spot due to growth of other countries. While the group said in its submission it acknowledges the growth in other economies, it emphasised the effect it could have on Australia.

ACCI’s findings come in the wake of Chinese Premier Li Keqiang’s visit Down Under. The two countries signed a bilateral agreement that focussed on beef exports, energy and security. China recently stopped Brazilian imports after a scandal regarding salmonella infected meats broke.

China’s importance as Australia’s largest trade partner came after Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s controversial phone call with US President Donald Trump. The bilateral agreement between Australia and China comes at a time of "increasingly loud voices calling for a retreat from the project of global economic liberalisation into protectionism,” Turnbull said.

James Peason, ACCI chief executive, emphasised on the “vast and largely untapped opportunity” in the Indian Ocean region. “Our emphasis of the past 75 years of peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific needs now to be matched with policy and strategic equivalence for the Indian Ocean region,” ACCI’s submission says. the region is home to as many as 2.3 billion people.