In spite of the numerous crises and conflicts globally that have put a significant strain on the economy, Austria’s export sector continues to function fairly efficiently. This year, it is anticipated that the export of goods will surpass the 200 billion euro mark for the first time ever. If the exports of both goods and services are combined, it is likely that by 2025, the 300 billion euro threshold will be breached.
Yet, the Chamber of Commerce President, Harald Mahrer expresses concerns about the future of the location. He warns that Austrian companies, and indeed companies all across Europe, are at risk of either being undermined or relocating due to escalating costs related to energy, workforce, and most importantly, bureaucracy. Mahrer refers to Europe as his “problem child”. With a total of 63,700 export companies, Austria must explore new markets, and currently, all focus is being directed towards Asia, particularly Southeast Asia which is seen as a beacon of hope.
As a result, plans are underway to establish a new foreign trade office in Bangalore, India and another one in Tashkent, Uzbekistan. Concurrently, the chamber is making significant preparations for the 2025 Expo in Osaka, Japan. The Philippines and Indonesia are being utilized for the recruitment of skilled labor.
Southeast Asia: A Region of Hope
The potential is immense: Out of Austria’s top ten export markets, eight are in Europe. The only exceptions are the USA, which ranks third after Germany and Italy, and China, which comes in 9th place.
Mahrer insists that there is an urgent need for more “agility and freedom” for companies and a reduction of non-wage labor costs by at least four billion euros. While the quality of the products is satisfactory, they are progressively becoming uncompetitive price-wise. He warns that this should be a cause for alarm.
On the political front, the chamber leader advocates for an EU moratorium on bureaucracy, a re-evaluation of the supply chain law, and support for the struggling construction sector. While Mahrer does not specify which future coalition would be most beneficial to the economy, he is critical of both the FPÖ and SPÖ. He accuses the Blues of wanting to restrict Austria and isolate the country, while the SPÖ are promoting the unrealistic concept of a 32-hour working week. He believes both stances are erroneous and could potentially jeopardize the country’s prosperity.