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Five megatrends transforming global trade and investment

On Monday, the CSIRO’s Data61 and the Australian Trade and Investment Commission (Austrade) released a report Global trade and investment megatrends detailing the five megatrends that will reshape global trade and investment during and post-COVID-19. 

A megatrend is “a deep-set trajectory of change occurring at the intersection of multiple trends and drivers.” 

The five megatrends identified by the report are:

  • Digital transformation: telework, telehealth, online retail, online education and online entertainment are experiencing unprecedented growth. Australian companies should sell into new export markets for digital products and services.
  • Investing in supply chain resilience: global disruption has forced companies to find more resilient, stable and diversified supply chains. This is an opportunity for Australian companies to meet global demand and for data science and decision support to identify supply chain solutions.
  • Localisation and staying closer to home: restricted human mobility means that governments and citizens will turn to local options for tourism, manufacturing and services.
  • A changing economic landscape: the global economy is facing productivity slumps, record-high government debt-to-GDP levels and low interest rates. However Australia has been relatively successful in controlling the pandemic domestically and is projected to have a better economic recovery than most. This means Australia should capitalise on their relative success and try to attract science and tech talent from overseas.
  • Stepping into the new normal: elevated infectious disease, climate change risks, cybersecurity risks and geopolitical tensions mean that the future looks “turbulent, uncertain, novel, and ambiguous.” Navigating a world with greater uncertainty means that businesses must be able to adapt to changes quickly and mitigate new risks as they arise.

The report estimates that over a decade’s worth of digital transformation has been compressed into a few months during the pandemic. This as an opportunity for a data-driven economic recovery.

“Data science and technology will be crucial to drive our economic recovery and build our future resilience,” says Jon Whittle, Director of Data61.

“Digital technologies, such as artificial intelligence, robotics and data science can help us create new sources of wealth generation for the nation, and shift the dial for Australia on an international level.”

The report identifies 9 strategic actions that are crucial to keeping Australian businesses connected to the world. 

The strategic actions are:

  • Develop data-driven trade and investment: using machine learning, predictive analytics, operations research, natural language processing and decision support technologies to drive Australia’s trade and investment decisions.
  • Boost digital exports: secure a free and fair trade landscape for digital products and services, enhance Australia’s digital technology capabilities and build Australia’s brand profile for trusted, reliable and high-quality digital solutions.
  • Develop a refreshed and expanded R&D investment attraction program: increase R&D FDI attraction by universities, research organisations, industry and government agencies.
  • Deliver on the perception and reality of the world’s safest holidays: improve Australia’s tourism industry by foregrounding its excellent disease mitigation.
  • Build a pandemic-proof international education sector: offer digital models of learning and assessment and provide offshore campuses.
  • Boost Australia’s critical minerals exports: invest, provide innovation incentives and develop infrastructure for Australia’s minerals mining companies.
  • Expand food, agricultural and agri-tech exports: attract investment into our well-developed agri-tech industry.
  • Develop an export-earning, disaster-resilient technology industry: build Australia’s brand as a supply of trusted solutions to disasters worldwide. 
  • Develop trade and investment foresight capability: be able to read and predict megatrends to give Australia a first-mover advantage.

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Ann Wen
Ann is a journalist at Dynamic Business with a background in commercial law and research. She is interested in SME tax law, public policy and Australian innovation.
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