Firms asked to reduce European focus in favour of BRIC states

The Austrian economy has to up its focus on emerging markets, a government minister has warned.People’s Party (ÖVP) Economy Minister Reinhold Mitterlehner appealed on exporting firms based in Austria to eye up business in up-and-coming economies in Asia and South America to ensure Austria remains competitive.The minister explained today (Tues) that around 83 per cent of all Austrian exports go to customers within Europe. He pointed out that Germany – the continent’s most powerful economy and Austria’s key import and export partner – is much less dependent on European countries with a share of just 71 per cent.Mitterlehner said his target was to raise the value of exports to markets outside Europe by 13 per cent to 30 per cent in the coming nine years. The ÖVP official presented a package of measures including higher subsidies for small and medium-sized enterprises (SME) to reach this goal.The economy minister said he hoped to improve the Austrian economy as far as innovation, investments and internationalisation were regarded. Mitterlehner said he was confident that this so-called Triple-I Initiative will deliver positive results. “We must become more active in emerging markets like Brazil, Russia, India and China (the so-called BRIC states),” he added.Meanwhile, Austrian National Bank (OeNB) Governor Ewald Nowotny said Austria’s high export operations within Europe could also be regarded as a “strong pro-Euro signal” in these volatile times.A new survey – conducted by pollster Karmasin for magazine profil – shows that a majority of 63 per cent of Austrians want the country to remain a member of the Eurozone despite increasing criticism of the European Union’s (EU) decisions regarding struggling member states Greece, Ireland and Portugal.However, the number of Eurosceptics in Austria is on the rise as well. Thirty-one per cent of Austrians questioned by Karmasin said they wanted the country to pull out of the Eurozone. Fewer than one in three Austrians said the same in previous studies.The term Eurozone describes the 17 EU members that use the Euro as their currency. The Euro replaced the Schilling in Austria nine years ago.The value of exports carried out by Austrian firms soared by 16.5 per cent to 109.2 billion Euros last year compared to 2009. Companies based in the country imported goods worth 113.5 billion Euros last year. This figure means the value of their purchases abroad rose by 16.3 per cent.