Australia and Southeast Asia: Invested in our shared economic futureNICHOLAS MOORE AO
The countries of Southeast Asia are poised to be major drivers of global growth in the decades ahead.
Southeast Asia is one of the fastest-growing global regions and will be home to one of the most dramatic economic transformations of the 21st century. Throughout the region, population growth, increasing large and affluent middle classes, and urbanisation trends will create growing demand for a wider range of goods, services and skills.
Malaysia is likely to achieve high-income status before the end of the decade. Its digital transformation is also expected to drive significant growth, including in services, agriculture and technology.
This bright economic opportunity is at the core of my report for the Australian Government, Invested: Australia’s Southeast Asia Economic Strategy to 2040, launched by the Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese and the Australian Foreign Minister Penny Wong in Jakarta on Sept 6.
The strategy sets out a practical pathway to translate economic potential into tangible and enduring two-way trade and investment growth for Australia and our region.
It is the culmination of many months of consultations, in Australia and throughout the region, and recommends ways governments can increase two-way trade and investment by raising awareness, removing blockages, building capacity and deepening investment.
The strategy examines 10 key sectors, which I believe offer the most potential for economic growth – agriculture and food; resources; green energy transition; infrastructure; education and skills; visitor economy; healthcare; digital economy, professional and financial services; and creative industries – and provides 75 recommendations for government consideration.
I welcome the Australian Government’s decision to immediately support key initiatives that go to the heart of the strategy.
To increase investment in the region, Australia will establish deal teams to help identify opportunities and commercial partners, and provide market intelligence and guidance on risk, regulation and government engagement.
To raise awareness of business opportunities in Southeast Asia among Australian business, Australia will initiate a Southeast Asia Business Exchange – focused on coordinating business missions to the region, targeting priority sectors and stepping-up coordination with Southeast Asian diaspora.
To expand trade and investment ties between Australia and Southeast Asia, the Government will deliver a trade and investment promotion campaign in Australia, which will build understanding of Southeast Asian goods and services and highlight the region as an investment destination.
And to grow capability in Australia and the region, a placements and internships pilot program for young professionals – with an initial focus on investment, energy transition and the digital economy – will deliver enduring links between Australian and Southeast Asian businesses.
These early responses to the strategy demonstrate the Australian Government’s commitment to increasing trade and investment with Southeast Asia. Australian businesses are also taking notice of the opportunities the region represents – more than 170 Australian businesses people attended the recent ASEAN summits in Jakarta.
Expanding Australia’s trade and investment links with our region is critical to ensuring our shared future prosperity. These impactful first steps are key to advancing Australia’s ambition to significantly expand commercial links with the region – from now until 2040, and beyond.
Invested: Australia’s Southeast Asia Economic Strategy to 2040 is available at www.dfat.gov.au/southeastasiaeconomicstrategy.
Nicholas Moore AO is Australia’s Special Envoy for Southeast Asia.
The views expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect those of Sinar Daily.