Christmas is always a special time of year in the calendar, and it is wonderful to see our streets, shops and businesses adorned with the decorations of this festive season. As a Chamber, we understand the hard work, long hours and resilience of our members throughout the last year while making the most of a booming economy. We hope that you can find some time across the Christmas period to pause, take a breath and recharge.
It was pleasing on Monday (13 Dec) that the Premier announced our borders would reopen with some anticipated conditions, on 5th February 2022. For families with loved ones living elsewhere in Australia, this will be an important milestone to reunite and connect again after the last two years. For businesses both small and large it will mean an opportunity to welcome skilled migrants back into the State to hopefully fill some of the skills shortages that so many of us have at present. As we have seen with this virus, the new variants will continue to pose a risk to us, so again we fully encourage our business community to follow the health advise to get vaccinated.
Business activity remains strong across many of the sectors in our region and the forecast indicates that this will continue for some time to come. We are seeing unemployment figures reaching low levels not seen since the 1970s and again this will place a strain on skilled positions. The opening of our borders coupled with other initiatives, both State and Federal, to get people into the workforce will allow us to take advantage of these buoyant business times. Another forward indicator of the forecasted economic recovery is new business investment. At the Federal budget in May it was forecast to be 11.5% however, at the up-and-coming mid-year Economic and Fiscal outlook it is predicted to be 16%. This equates to an extra $20 billion of capital flowing into the economy so we will all be keenly watching the predictions of other indicators in the next few weeks from the Federal Treasurer.
Many of our members have relayed to us their supply chain challenges and the scarcity or long lead times in getting materials and products for them to trade. This covers so many products and the latest headline has spotlighted urea. The knock-on effect of this is that our trucking industry relies on this ingredient in additives such as AdBlue to reduce exhaust emissions. The shipping of products across the globe is an increasing concern with the price of 40ft containers hitting a spot price of nearly $10k compared to $2k in December 2019. Many freight companies have ordered new ships which will bring increased capacity however, they appear to be some 18 months away. While demand for products and raw materials remains high, we will see our businesses continue to be nimble and innovative in attempting to sidestep these constraints.
With the New Year racing towards us, the Chamber will be working in the background ensuring that our new initiatives, through our newly formed sub committees, are operating in the early part of 2022. We will be communicating these exciting opportunities to our members soon and look forward to many of you participating in our new initiatives such as the Emerging Leaders Program and Women in Business to name a few.
In the meantime, I wish everyone of you a Merry Christmas and a prosperous, safe New Year.