In­vest­ment plans con­tin­u­ing but wider con­fi­dence shaken

Australian Forests and Timber - - IN THE NEWS -

THE FOR­EST prod­uct in­dus­tries an­nual busi­ness con­fi­dence sur­vey sug­gests com­pa­nies are ner­vous about the head­winds buf­fet­ing the econ­omy, but still pro­ceed­ing cau­tiously with rein­vest­ment and re­tool­ing strate­gies fol­low­ing the Global Fi­nan­cial Cri­sis (GFC).

Mem­bers of the Aus­tralian For­est Prod­uct As­so­ci­a­tion (AFPA) rep­re­sent the ma­jor­ity of the larger en­ter­prises in the for­est prod­ucts value chain, be­tween them em­ploy­ing tens of thou­sands of Aus­tralians. Their com­bined opin­ion there­fore pro­vides a good snapshot of the big busi­ness view of op­er­at­ing con­di­tions and ex­pec­ta­tions.

The Chair­man of AFPA Greg McCor­mack said:“The sur­vey’s head­line Busi­ness Con­fi­dence In­dex for the com­ing year re­veals busi­nesses are less op­ti­mistic about the state of the over­all econ­omy.” (- 12.41 down from + 13.73, a drop of 30%)

“This some­what bear­ish sen­ti­ment, how­ever, is not trans­lat­ing to a re­treat back to the ex­treme fo­cus on re­duc­ing costs and out­lays which ac­com­pa­nied the GFC. The sur­vey re­veals that, in fact, for­est in­dus­try com­pa­nies are con­tin­u­ing to in­vest in plant and equip­ment at a mod­er­ate level.

“The in­dex re­veals this mea­sure is track­ing close to last year’s. Em­ploy­ment growth ap­pears likely to plateau, with most com­pa­nies clearly con­clud­ing the re-hir­ing phase which fol­lowed the wide­spread ‘sur­vival’ re­duc­tions of the GFC pe­riod.

“The in­dus­try has enor­mous po­ten­tial in a car­bon con­strained global econ­omy if we can get the pol­icy and in­dus­try set­tings right to take ad­van­tage of the world’s grow­ing ap­petite for all the things we get from our sus­tain­able nat­u­ral and plan­ta­tion for­est in­dus­tries.

“One of the things that would make a big dif­fer­ence to busi­ness sen­ti­ment in our in­dus­tries was to be as­sured that the Aus­tralian Gov­ern­ment has a na­tional fi­bre and forestry plan to drive sec­tor wide growth of the in­te­grated parts of the story,” said Mr McCor­mack.

■ Chair­man of AFPA Greg McCor­mack.

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