The 'Australia in the Asian Century White Paper'
ambitiously defines twenty-five national objectives for 2025,
setting the policy making framework for the next phase in
Australia's integration with Asia. There are five key themes to
those national objectives. Two in particular provide insight for
Australian business to fully recognise the opportunities presented
by our nation's comparative advantage.
Australians need to build their Asia relevant capabilities. This
will require developing skills and deep understanding about Asia
and its cultures, languages, challenges and business practices.
While an obvious means for achieving this is direct education (in
schools, universities, vocational training), Australian business
will have a significant role through fostering and championing
those who have extensive experience and understanding about our
region, and those who seek it.
The White Paper objectives include that one-third of board
members of Australia's top 200 listed companies will have deep
experience in and knowledge of Asia. It suggests businesses engage
Asia-capable talent and staff possessing knowledge of products and
markets in Asia, and promote flexible and dynamic workplace
Australia has long and tested relationships with Europe and the
US, but our interaction and engagement with Asia is also
considerable and has been steadily increasing for decades. That
growing engagement has been led by relatively few individuals in
Australian business, who disproportionately represent large
enterprises. Key to integration in Asia is business relationships,
particularly one-on-one personal relationships. When the engagement
of an Australian organisation and its Asian partner is limited to
relationships between only few personnel, we have seen that
integration is slow at best. If Australian business continues to
adopt this approach, the abundant opportunities currently available
will not be realised.
The White Paper suggests a number of pathways for the
development of Asia-capable leaders and workplaces, including
encouraging peek business organisations to report annually on
business practices and processes for the promotion of Asia relevant
expertise and knowledge.
In Australian businesses which are successfully engaged with
Asian partners, we see staff who are excited by the contrasts and
opportunities which their Asian partners present. Even before
detailed policies are formulated, tangible market benchmarks are
set and progress reporting become standard practice, Australian
business can gain by incentivising and supporting a wide range of
employees, not just senior management and board members, to take
interest and develop their knowledge of Asian culture and business
practices, and to seek meaningful engagement with our regional
OPERATING IN AND CONNECTING TO GROWING ASIAN MARKETS
Australian businesses have proven they can adapt their
commercial models and strategies to become highly attractive to our
regional markets. The White Paper provides several examples.
Through becoming integrated into regional supply chains, and
particularly through providing value-added inputs to services in
Asian markets, Australian businesses can establish credibility and
confidence and attract additional inbound investment (including
from regions outside of our own).
To secure emerging opportunities, Australian businesses will
need to remain competitive and resilient. An organisation that
identifies better ways to conduct its business, improves its
business models and tailors its goods and services to the Asian
markets holds a competitive advantage.
The Australian Government has said it will work hard to open our
regional markets to Australian trade and investment. Banks and
providers of professional services are also recognised in the White
Paper as having the potential to help other Australian businesses
to integrate with Asian markets, including by connecting Australian
businesses with customers and partners in our region. Through
advising on cross boarder transactions, these service providers
have valuable exposure and insight into Asian markets and business
practices, understand the importance of mutual respect, and are
experienced in overcoming challenges presented by different
Australian business needs to leverage off its growing base of
Asia relevant skills, experiences and understanding. By keeping
current on developments within our region, Australian businesses
can participate with the Australian Government and guide it in the
formulation of detailed policies to assist with our connection into
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