BHP Billiton chairman Jac Nasser has urged the United States to allow energy exports from its shores, declaring that all energy should be globally traded.

Speaking at a British Chamber of Commerce lunch in Melbourne, Mr Nasser said he did not like discussions about the 'energy security' or 'energy independence' of individual nations, saying a global approach was required.

The US has traditionally banned exports of energy products out of concern that it is not self sufficient in energy, but the recent shale boom has changed that and raised the prospect of exporting gas to growing Asian nations.

BHP has exposure to US oil and gas through its rigs in the Gulf of Mexico and its $20 billion worth of shale acquisitions in 2011, and Mr Nasser's call comes as US regulators are wrestling with the notion of allowing oil and gas exports to occur.

Mr Nasser said the US "should not be afraid" to import and export energy products, and the nation "should encourage" the export of their onshore oil and gas.

Earlier Mr Nasser had spoken at length about the flaws in Australia's industrial relations system and called for it to be reversed.

IR is a topic he has regularly spoken about over the recent years.

Mr Nasser said Australia was lagging the world’s best economies when it came to productivity and needed a new plan to stop it falling further behind.

The nation’s past success in mining, luck in terms of natural resources, and proximity to Asia did not guarantee future success, Mr Nasser told the business lunch.

Australia was in 14th place in labour productivity around the globe, which was not world class, he said.

The resources industry had a crucial responsibility for its own future and to improve productivity as it represented 50 per cent of exports and was a significant taxpayer.

However, it needed to be a national priority as almost every Australian had a financial stake in the success of the resources industry, including indirectly through superannuation.

‘‘Given the continued growth in China and Asia, over the next decade the potential investment and jobs created could be as big as the last 10 years,’’ Mr Nasser said.

‘‘But the reality is we are facing a new generation of stronger, smarter competitors.’’ 

Australia had become more prosperous than ever in the past decade but was now threatened by onerous tax, regulatory and adversarial industrial relations requirements hitting productivity, he said.

with AAP