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WHILE migration is still important to WA’s economic base, its importance is decreasing, says Chamber of Commerce and Industry economist Nicky Cusworth.

“We believe migration can be sustainably increased,” Ms Cusworth said.

She said WA tended to take a disproportionately large amount of migrants.

“We also gain net interstate migration which gives us an expanding population base,” Ms Cusworth said.

“It’s no coincidence that WA and Queensland – the two states with the fastest growing population bases – have the fastest growing economies.”

Figures released for July to December showed WA drew 23 per cent of Australia’s business migrants.

WA was second only to New South Wales which drew 36 per cent.

A survey by the Department of Immigration and Multicultural Affairs found that after three years:

* 85 per cent of the business migrants were engaged in business in Australia, with 78 per cent of businesses being new;

* They brought an average of $822,647 with them;

* On average their businesses employed 5.3 persons;

* 14 per cent said they had developed or introduced new products to Australia;

* An average $353,816 was invested in a business by each migrant engaged in a business;

* 66 per cent of those in business were exporting; and

* 7 per cent of those in business said they were producing products that would otherwise have been imported.

Over the past 100 years Australia’s population has grown four-fold.

Ms Cusworth said there was no way the country could do that in the next 100 years “short of allowing in twice the population of Tasmania each year”.

“I think the number of people in Australia born overseas will start to decline in the next 15 to 20 years,” she said.

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