The Austrian Economics Center (AEC), in cooperation with over 100 leading think-tanks and universities across Europe and the Caucasus, and in association with international partners such as the Global Philanthropic Trust, Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom, Americans for Tax Reform, Competitive Enterprise Institute, World Taxpayers Associations, European Students for Liberty, and the F.A. v. Hayek Institut, are proud to present the 11th Annual Free Market Road Show, which tours 31 cites during March, April and May in Europe and the Caucasus – from Scandinavia to the Balkans, from the Atlantic Ocean to the Black Sea.

Dr. Barbara Kolm, Austrian Economics Center

Introductory Note by

Karin Kneissl

Austrian Federal Minister for Europe, Integration and Foreign Affairs

Photo: Georges Schneider/BMEIA

A significant part of Austria’s economic success derives from its interconnection with the outside world. Austrian companies have been active in international markets for many years, through good and bad times, and continue to develop their presence abroad. The persistence and commitment of Austrian businesses, highly appreciated by the various international marketplaces, provide a solid basis for ever-deepening foreign trade relations.
 
Nevertheless, we have to consider some recent developments in world politics:
 
Firstly, geography- a constant factor in history – has become more significant. States and regions, increasingly struggling over the limitations of their own resources and boundaries, seek to expand their economic zones. Differing histories and psychologies often determine how they go about and require so our attention. Although European countries should and will continue to compete with each other, it remains crucial that the European Union should demonstrate cohesion and unity towards the wider world.
 
Secondly, effective multilateralism is becoming increasingly important. Trade relations are the lif eline of our economies. Exports lead to growth, employment and thus to prosperity. However, every form of economic activity needs predictability that a secure legal framework provides. Strong and efficient international organisations, common values, fair standards, respect for international jurisdiction, the global fight against corruption as well as universal respect for the rule of law and for human rights are all key preconditions for international trade to function well. These factors are all important as we consider how we trade with the growing markets of Asia.
 
Finally, in today’s inter-connected world, working as a coordinated and cooperating team will achieve better results than going in alone. Bearing this in mind, the Ministry for Europe, Integration and Foreign Affairs, the Ministry for Digital and Economic Affairs and the Austrian Federal Economic Chamber jointly set up an action plan to support Austria’s export industry by means of a new Foreign Economic Strategy.
 
Austria’s new Foreign Economic Strategy aims to create the best possible conditions for export-oriented companies. It will continue building bridges to the world at large–be it through diplomatic channels, high- level political visits or by means of closer cooperation between the federal government and the regional or local authorities. The Strategy contains a clear commitment to effective multilateralism, active Austrian participation in international organisations and a reformed WTO. It also considers transparency, sustainability, the fight against corruption and entrepreneurial accountability. Since the efficient use of modern technologies is key to sustainable competition, the Strategy puts a strong focus on innovation and digitalisation, education and communication. The Strategy also takes into account the importance of energy supplies and resources for Austria as a business location. Better support for research, the provision of risk capital, the reduction of bureaucracy, an improved digital infrastructure and an emphasis on excellence and efficiency are all measures aimed at supporting Austrian companies– be they small, medium – sized or large -to ensure they are at optimum fitness to continue to compete and excel at world level.

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