IT in Australia

Old Sep 20th 2002, 4:15 am
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Default IT in Australia

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Alston unconcerned by $11b IT trade gap



SYDNEY

FEDERAL information technology minister Richard Alston today said he was not concerned Australia's IT industry continued to trade at a deficit.

A detailed survey of Australia's IT industry for the two years ended June 30, 2001, published yesterday by the Australian Bureau of Statistics, showed an industry trade gap widening $2.2 billion to $11.3 billion.

Over the two years, annual exports of IT goods and services jumped at a rate of 33.5 per cent per year to $5.97 billion by June 30 2001, while imports rose 27.7 per cent to $17.3 billion.

"I don't think we should be particularly worried about that," Senator Alston told a Smart Internet Technology Co-operative Research Centre conference in Sydney.

"I think the general view now would be that we're much better off in those areas where we do have a comparative advantage.

"The simple production of IT is an area where we're probably at a comparative disadvantage."

Senator Alston said the IT industry in the United States had experienced record growth while continuing to operate at a trade deficit.

It was more important for countries to focus on developing technology that could benefit the overall economy.

"You make some pretty tough decisions," he said.

"You say, "well we want to be involved in some of those horizontal activities which can feed into other sectors'."

He cited nanotechnology, high-speed wireless internet and quantum computing as important areas of development.

"Materials development, we're not so good at that," he said.

"(But) is it essential that we do everything anyway?

"You've got to be realistic about your potential."
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