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SA economy on track for moderate growth as international students return


South Australia’s economic recovery is expected to continue well into the new year as international students flood back into the state, according to the latest forecast from the University of Adelaide’s SA Centre for Economic Studies.

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In its latest Economic Briefing Report released this week, SACES says recent strong growth in business investment, a backlog of construction work, and reopening of borders will support the ongoing recovery.

But it warns that the economic benefits of reopening will be diminished if it leads to fresh COVID outbreaks and a return to tightened restrictions.

“Despite a remarkable turnaround in net interstate migration flows, South Australia’s population growth has slowed sharply with the closure of the nation’s borders,” the report said.

“This has negative implications for the size of the working age population, skills in demand and the ageing of the working age population.”

From today, visa holders including international students and skilled workers can enter the country, almost two years since Australia’s international borders closed due to the pandemic.

The Federal Government estimates about 235,000 visa holders would be eligible to enter the country, including an estimated 133,000 international students.

SACES deputy director Jim Hancock said the SA economy was expected to have “a moderate continuing recovery in 2021/22”, in part helped by the reopening of international borders.

“The outlook for business and public investment is quite positive,” he said.

“We also expect that household spending growth will be moderately supportive, as activity restrictions phase out and as population growth recovers with the opening of Australia’s international borders.”

The softening of Australia’s international border comes after the Federal Government placed a two-week pause on visa holders being able to return over concern about the arrival of the COVID-19 Omicron variant.

Universities Australia chief executive Catriona Jackson said she was delighted international students could at last return.

“At the start of the 2022 academic year, Australia can finally welcome back students from around the world, in person. Some students will return to the campus life they’ve missed, others will set foot on campus for the very first time,” she said.

“Our international students make a rich contribution, both to the student experience and the wider Australian community. We have missed their presence dearly and couldn’t be more delighted to welcome them back from today.”

ABS data released yesterday shows there were just 15,730 overseas arrivals into Australia in October, a monthly decrease of 3110 trips on September.

The total departures reached 36,820 in October up 6,490 on the previous month.

The number of short-term arrivals into South Australia was just 80 in October, the same number as September.

However, it is well down on the 180 short term visitors in October 2020 and the 23,440 who arrived in SA pre-COVID in October 2019.

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