Growth at a distance

There is a new report out by CEDA today entitled Competing from Australia. Apart from the Keith Smith contribution last week, I read with interest Glenn Wither’s exploration of the ‘tyranny of distance.’ Australia has come a long way in the last decade. It is hard to wake up in the morning and not feel more connected with the rest of the world. In many respects, the changes in telecommunications technology and the Internet have made it feasible for academics such as myself to conduct internationally relevant research.

Withers points out that there is a still more to be done. Australian governments still put up barriers that a non-geographical and that impede openness and trade. The Age today quotes me as saying:

Melbourne Business School’s Joshua Gans said Australia had come a long way in the past decade but Australian governments still put up barriers that impeded openness and trade. “Initiatives such as the US free trade agreement appear to be more cosmetic than real, designed to raise restraints on trade as we have seen recently over copyright.”

Let’s face it if IP protection leads to a reduced flow of information how can that be called openness. And, indeed, in many respects it is the flow of information and ideas that impacts on economic performance far more than the flow of physical goods. When our challenges in the physical are put there by nature, surely we don’t need challenges in the informational imposed by government as well.

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