Trade zone could level playing fields

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The Kwinana Industrial Area.
Camera IconThe Kwinana Industrial Area. Credit: Kwinana Industries Council

Overlapping jurisdictions of the Western Trade Coast is a hindrance to the further development of the area, according to a recently released report, which is calling for the creation of a Foreign or Federal Trade Zone in the area.

The Accelerating Global Competitiveness: Special Economic Zones report by Caitlin Cain was launched two weeks ago and calls for governance of the WTC to be streamlined. Currently, land in the WTC falls under the cities of Cockburn, Kwinana and Rockingham, the Australian Marine Complex and Landcorp.

In her report, Ms Cain said developing this area as a “State-identified strategic industrial area” that was legislatively enabled by one entity was the way to further develop the WTC.

The report noted a way to boost trade would be to incorporate a Foreign or Federal Trade Zone that could incentivise the development of more “value-add” manufacturing in “emerging niche sectors”, such as recycling, agribusiness and energy, metals and materials.

“The benefit of an FTZ is that it reduces costs and time to market (through the elimination of duties on imported goods that are then re-exported) thus levelling the playing field for Australian businesses,” Ms Cain wrote.

The Kwinana Industries Council has backed the report and its suggestions, with director Chris Oughton saying it was “in the State’s interest” to get behind the idea, as its realisation could be a step towards the simplification of doing business in the Western Trade Coast, “assisting industry to remain internationally competitive”. “It will place an international spotlight on the attractiveness of WA as a place to come to set up business and to take its place on the world stage in the lithium battery and other value-adding industries,” he said.

However, the Maritime Union of Australia criticised the report, saying the recommendations did not resemble any of the main characteristics that defined SEZ’s around the world.

“The SEZ being proposed is little more than a marketing body made up of business, public sector, and university representatives to help navigate approval processes and promote Western Australia to the world,” it said.

“Turns out the much hyped ‘special economic zone’ at best is nothing more than another layer of bureaucracy doing the job of existing organisations.”

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