By Tim Harcourt*
Adviser – International Engagement for South Australia
As an airport economist I think a lot about the aviation industry. And I think a lot about our national carrier Qantas. I have visited 58 countries in the past five years – most of it thanks to Qantas – so I think a lot about the airline as a customer and (very) frequent flyer. Reflecting on my days as the Australian Trade Commission (Austrade) and in the private sector I think a lot about trade and aviation policy and the intricacies of landing ‘rights’ in global aviation.
I travel to many economies for a living. About 58 in 5 years at last count. But if you or I wanted to travel the ultimate underperforming economy, one with double digit inflation and unemployment, an Olympic gold medal standard for strikes, a fixed exchange rate, few foreign tourists or foreign students and protection all round, then we’d have to be a time traveller and go back to Australia in 1983.
In 1993, at the time of the APEC Leaders Summit in Seattle, an important intervention was made on behalf of Australia. Dr Supachai Panitchpakdi, the Deputy Prime Minister of Thailand, made it clear to a high-level trade conference in Melbourne that Australia was an important part of the Asia-Pacific region and that Thailand regarded Australia as a key economic ally and good friend.
In order to measure the standard of living across international borders, The Economist magazine invented the ’Big Mac Index’ to see what its cost to buy a ‘Big Mac’ hamburger in McDonald restaurants in each country in the local currency. It’s a very rough rule of thumb to make international economic comparisons.
Brazilian Airports at the moment are jam packed. Why is this so? To an airport economist the underlying reasons must always be economic and in this case thankfully they are. Basically, in the new Brazil, the upper class more wealthy Brazilians are flying north to Miami to shop (even factoring in the cost of flights it’s cheaper to buy in the USA than to pay ‘Brazilian’ prices ) whilst their maids are flying south to Buenos Aires (where at current exchange rates, Argentina is even cheaper).
Tim Harcourt travels
the globe in search of
Australia's export successes
& explains how you could be next!
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