English, Article edition: Benchmarks for Austria's Exports Fritz Breuss

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Physical Description
  • article
Language
  • English

Edition details

Title
  • Benchmarks for Austria's Exports
Author
  • Fritz Breuss
Physical Description
  • article
Notes
  • The Austrian balance of trade has remained remarkably unaffected over the past years, actually showing some improvement since 1980. In the merchandise trade, Austria has tended to increase its comparative advantages. The balance on current account, on the other hand, has taken a major downturn, especially since 1995. Key roles in this development have been played by the net payments to the EU and, primarily, the dramatic deterioration in the competitive position of the travel and tourism industry. Apart from efforts to improve the country's potential in merchandise trading, the main focus should be on the more obvious task of reorganizing the tourism industry. The vast surpluses of the early 1990s (about ATS 75 billion, which were – at least temporarily – boosted by the opening of the East) are not expected to return. More efforts also need to be directed to making other services more competitive internationally. The present study derives benchmarks for Austrian exports from a few indicators (regional and commodity structure, export ratio, trade by multinationals, etc.). For Austria, a realistic target is not the export performance of such countries as Ireland, Belgium–Luxembourg or the Netherlands ("best practice" cases) which, due to singular historical circumstances, range far in front of Austria, but rather small European economies such as Finland, Sweden and Switzerland. If Austria were to approximate their benchmarks, it could boost its exports by 3 to 6 percent of GDP (export ratio). The point, however, is to reduce the gap to the countries used for the comparison, considering that the export ratio has been rising anyway since World War II. Based on 1996 data, this would correspond to an export value of about ATS 72 to 140 billion at most. In its "export campaign", the Austrian federal government set itself a target of ATS 72 billion, which is rather at the lower limit. The result was disappointing, due to a range of restrictions, primarily budgetary constraints required by the need to meet the convergence criteria for EMU. Current proposals (additional budget expenditure of ATS 600 million, extending the guarantee for exporters of the Finanzierungsgarantie-Gesellschaft by ATS 10 billion; an increase in its capital by ATS 100 to 150 million; revenue shortfalls of ATS 30 million per year by a change in the OeKB's bill guarantee scheme) are aimed at increasing exports by ATS 18 billion. Yet the underlying effect multiplier of about 30 appears to be rather high. The additional budgetary funds of ATS 2.4 billion demanded in the original concept of the Vereinigung Österreichischer Industrieller as expenditure on more innovation and R&​D (as an integral part of an export campaign) had to be slashed considerably in the final "technology campaign" concept. Nevertheless the combined effect of an "export campaign" and a "technology campaign" might enable Austria to accelerate the trend of a growing export ratio and to compensate weaknesses in the trade in services.
  • Benchmarks für den österreichischen Export; Benchmarks for Austria's Exports
  • RePEc:wfo:monber:y:1998:i:2:p:91-106
Language
  • English
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