Here’s a marketing idea: just run the country really well
When entrepreneurs or the bosses of industrial giants are deciding where to spend their money, it’s a fair bet they’re not asking which country has the cleverest marketing slogan.
Trade Minister Simon Crean is looking for ideas for a new “brand” for Australia. He’s arguing that we need to be more like New Zealand.
With respect to the Kiwis and their “100% Pure” branding exercise, slogans and slick logos are not the key drivers of success in the global economy.
The questions are more on these lines: can people get to work by car or public transport? Do they have the right skills? Is the broadband fast enough? After the tax man is paid, will there be anything left from the profits?
Each year the World Economic Forum publishes a report ranking countries based on their competitiveness. The rankings are based on a reassuringly pointy-headed combination of statistics, economic data and surveys of the opinions of executives around the world.
Overall, Australia is 18th out of 134 countries in a survey topped by the US and Switzerland. Not a bad result, though we still lag behind the French, who are hardly known for being business friendly.
(For context, we’re just ahead of Belgium, Iceland, and Malaysia. You can see the table here.)
But the details highlight some clear areas for improvement.
Australia ranks 85th – 85th! – out of the 134 countries in the survey on the question of the burden of government regulation. With businesses having to satisfy both state and federal governments wherever they operate in Australia, this probably shouldn’t be all that surprising. The sharia-driven environment of Saudi Arabia, by comparison, rank a comparatively Thatcherite 14th.
The five biggest problems facing business, according to the survey, were restrictive labour regulations, inadequate supply of infrastructure, an inadequately educated workforce, inflation, and tax rates.
The federal government wields enormous power over all of these areas.
To be fair, the report notes the “excellent functioning of Australia’s goods, labor, and financial markets”, and Crean is right to note the “quality of all that we have to offer in sectors such as trade, investment and education”.
Australia can be proud to be ranked 18th but getting more competitive should be more about the whole environment for businesses and tourists, and less about slogans.
Nice that we’re trying to catch up with the Kiwis on the marketing front, but how about starting with, say, lopping a few points off the corporate tax rate?
Share your thoughts - or your national slogans - in the comments.
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