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10 Feb, 2012

Australia Invites Comments on “Asian Century” Issues Paper


Canberra, February 9 2012 (Australian Ministry of Trade Press Release) – Australian Trade Minister Craig Emerson on February 10 will meet peak business and industry associations to canvass their views on the ‘Australia in the Asian Century’ White Paper. The meeting will include high-level representatives from the agriculture, mining, services and manufacturing sectors.

“An important part of the national conversation on Australia’s future is the perspective of those for whom Asia is core business,” Dr Emerson said. “Their input will help shape steps for early action and longer-term policies.”

The White Paper project, launched in September last year by Prime Minister Julia Gillard, will examine how Australia can maximise the opportunities presented by the tremendous economic and strategic change underway in the region. “Australia has already benefited from domestic reforms which have put us into an enviable economic position,” Dr Emerson said. “Engaging more closely with Asia is central to capitalising on this performance and spreading the nation’s wealth to all sections of the community.”

The Government has called for public submissions on the White Paper to be lodged by 26 February.

The White Paper will review Australia’s current government policy settings and strategies, consider the potential contribution of business, non-government organisations and individual citizens and provide a blueprint to navigate the Asian Century – a period of transformative economic, political, strategic and social change. The following website posting explains what the White Paper is designed to do:

“The scale and pace of Asia’s transformation is unprecedented. Hundreds of millions of people have been lifted out of poverty, many moving from rural areas to new megacities. Asia’s demand for resources and other goods and services has grown rapidly. Its diverse and rich cultural traditions co-exist with cutting edge modernity. Asia’s increasing economic weight is boosting its capacity and willingness to engage politically and strategically in the region and across the globe.

“Australia’s integration into the region gathered pace in the post-war period with a series of landmark events including: our support for Indonesia’s independence in the late 1940s; the 1957 Commerce Agreement with Japan; our recognition of China in 1972; our reception of Indochinese refugees in the 1970s; our contribution to the Cambodian Peace Process; our role in establishing and participating in APEC; and our contribution to other forums such as the G20. An extensive web of bilateral, regional and global links now brings Australia and our Asian neighbours together.

“Australia’s integration into Asia has been and is contributing to our national prosperity, to our vibrant and diverse society and to our security. Geographic proximity is important, as are the soundness of our national fundamentals: the depth of skills and expertise of the Australian people; our diversity and social cohesion; the acumen of our businesses; the richness of our natural resources; our stable and effective institutions and regulatory frameworks; the openness and flexibility of our economy; our forward and outward looking policy settings; our values; and our general capacity to absorb change and adapt successfully.

“While the Asian Century offers unprecedented opportunity, it poses challenges for Australia, the region and the world. Australia and other countries in Asia must adapt to fluid and interconnected regional dynamics. We also face difficulties originating from other parts of the globe, including the consequences of what looks likely to be a prolonged period of economic and financial fragility in the world’s most advanced economies. Australia, like many Asian nations, is also grappling with domestic challenges relating to demographic change and risks to environmental sustainability. Ensuring access to opportunity for all Australians is also becoming more complex.”

Further information can be found at http://asiancentury.dpmc.gov.au.

Details on how to prepare a submission can be found here: http://asiancentury.dpmc.gov.au/node/14