Respondents said they were working to implement changes to be better prepared for potential future supply challenges, with COVID-19 demonstrating the need for external monitoring of the environment and changes in managerial thinking across industries.
“Supply chains were the single greatest threat to most businesses, with more than a third of businesses exploring supply chain diversification to increase resilience,” the report said.
“Business owners are also looking to broaden their client base, with half citing the need to find more diverse clientele.”
A further 35 per cent of businesses have brought forward e-commerce upgrades and integration in response to strict COVID-19 trade restrictions, the survey of 300 owners and executives found.
Completed before South Australia began its hard lockdown period on Wednesday, the results contain a warning for state governments considering sweeping restrictions and lockdowns to manage outbreaks. Businesses said measures such as those used during Victoria’s second wave had a severe impact on their operations, while “targeted and proportionate health responses” like those used in NSW could be as effective in health terms.
The report said the recently signed 15-nation Asia Pacific Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) agreement would help provide certainty in supply chains and help Australian exporters find new markets and trade contacts.
Australia signed on to the landmark deal with China, Japan, South Korea, New Zealand and 10 members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) on Sunday.
RCEP is the world’s largest free-trade deal, representing 30 per cent of global GDP and 30 per cent of the world’s population. The Morrison government hopes it will increase the diversity of Australia’s trade relationships and reduce the risks of economic coercion from our largest trading partner, China.
The Coalition, including senior frontbenchers such as Industry Minister Karen Andrews and Trade Minister Simon Birmingham, have highlighted stengthened supply chains as a key priority for Australia’s pandemid recovery and future job creation.
Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese on Wednesday said Labor wanted part of the COVID recovery to be Australian made.
“We could be a country that won’t be left high and dry the next time a crisis sweeps the world and knocks out global supply chains,” he said.