ICT imports far outweighed exports last year, highlighting Australia’s insatiable appetite for technology and the impact of ICT on business and productivity, according to new industry findings.
The Australian Computer Society’s (ACS) Australian Trade Update Report 2009, based on data gathered from 2008, reports local ICT exports hit $6.6 billion. ICT imports soared to $34bn, creating a $28 billion trade deficit. ICT equipment import totalled $29.7bn, while export was $3.5bn.
However, export and import for ICT services was more even, reaching $4bn and $3bn, respectively.
The report also found ICT goods and services were among the top 10 principle export for the country, highlighting the importance of ICT to the Australian economy. ICT contributed to almost 2.3 per cent of Australia’s total export earnings with equipment exports finding lucrative markets in New Zealand, the US, China, Germany and Singapore.
ICT services exports were particularly strong in the US, Hong Kong, UK, New Zealand, Singapore, Japan and China.
ACS chairman, Kumar Parakala, said continued proliferation across the sector offered growth opportunities for Australia’s economy.
“We need to pay more attention to this sector and make it a national economic priority,” he said. With the country’s ICT huge trade deficit, Parakala expressed concern Australia was lagging behind other developing countries in terms of producing, commercialising and marketing its ICT innovations.
“Our businesses do not seem to be effectively tapping into global networks,” he said.
While computing services was the only ICT trade sector Australia excelled in, Parakala pointed to areas of electronic production in which the country could also compete.
“What must occur now is that we build and leverage these local strengths,” he said.
Imports of ICT goods and services accounted for around 13 per cent of the nation’s total import debits.
Australia mainly sourced goods from China, the US, Malaysia, Japan, Korea, Singapore and Germany. China was a big player in hardware, supplying 35 per cent of Australia’s imported ICT equipment.