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Manufacturing Taskforce recommends focus on opportunities in Asia

Manufacturing can prosper and grow in Australia if the sector takes advantage of emerging opportunities in the Asian region, a national report into manufacturing has found.

Members of the Prime Minister's Manufacturing Taskforce – representing business, unions and the research sector – have presented their report Smarter Manufacturing for a Smarter Australia.

The Taskforce report concludes that manufacturing is an important part of the Australian economy, with significant links to other industries including construction, agriculture, utilities and services.

However it says the sector currently faces challenges such as the high Australian dollar, the strength of the resources boom in terms of capital and labour, more intensive global and regional competition and the continuing fallout from the global financial crisis.

Acknowledging this economic context, the report maps out a vision for the future of Australian manufacturing. It makes more than 40 recommendations designed to strengthen local firms as they adapt to global economic change.

The report makes it clear that manufacturing can prosper and grow by taking advantage of significant emerging opportunities, especially in the Asian region.

While the Federal Government is supportive in principle of most of the report's recommendations, it does not support recommendations in the report to further investigate a Sovereign Wealth Fund and a domestic reservation policy for gas.

The Federal Government has accepted the Taskforce's recommendation to establish a Manufacturing Leaders Group.

Members of the Prime Minister's Manufacturing Taskforce - representing business, unions and the research sector - have presented their report Smarter Manufacturing for a Smarter Australia.

One of the policy agendas identified by the non-government members of the Taskforce is to address Australia's competitiveness through the generation, dissemination and application of knowledge. This calls for researchers, research agencies and business to rethink how they can best work together to encourage innovation.

Such collaboration will be facilitated through the Industrial Research Transformation Program (ITRP), which supports strong partnerships between research and industry and encourages PhD students and postdoctoral researchers to gain industry experience.

The ITRP funding rules will be finalised in the context of the Industry and Innovation statement. The Australian Research Council will consult with Industry and the Research Sector in order to release the rules in coming weeks.

Download the Taskforce report.

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