Thriving in the Asian Century will require a clear plan
to seize the opportunities it will bring.
Asia's extraordinary ascent into the economic powerhouse of
the world is not only unstoppable, it is gathering pace.
It has already changed the Australian economy, society and
strategic environment. The scale and pace of the change still to
come will have profound implications for people everywhere. In this
century, our region will become home to most of the world's
middle class, the world's largest producer of goods and
services and the largest consumer of them.
We have already seen the benefits of Asia's appetite for raw
materials and energy. The next challenge will be how Australia can
benefit from what Asia will need next.
History teaches us that as economic weight shifts, so does
strategic weight. The Asian century is an Australian opportunity.
As the global centre of gravity shifts to our region, Australia
will be located in the right place at the right time—in the
Asian region in the Asian century.
The growth in our region will impact on almost all of our
economy and society. The demands of an increasingly wealthy and
mobile middle class will create new opportunities across a diverse
range of goods and services, from health and aged care to education
to household goods, and tourism, banking and financial services, as
well as high-quality food products.
Beyond economic gains, there will be many valuable opportunities
for building stronger relationships across the region, including
through closer educational, cultural and people-to-people
Australia's relationships in our region are strong and
robust, including with Asian nations like China, Japan, India,
Indonesia and the Republic of Korea (South Korea). But in this
Asian century we must enter a new phase of deeper and broader
This White Paper provides a roadmap for the whole of
Australia—governments, business, unions, and the broader
community—in this next phase. Our goal is to secure Australia
as a more prosperous and resilient nation that is fully part of our
region and open to the world.
OUR STARTING STRENGTHS
Australia starts from a position of strength. Just as our region
has a lot to offer us, we have a lot to offer our region. We have
strong, world-leading institutions, a multicultural and highly
skilled workforce, and a productive, open and resilient economy,
which is one of the strongest in the world. These assets have been
reinforced by a series of economic reforms and good decisions made
over past decades, including Australia's world-beating actions
to avoid the worst impacts of the Global Financial Crisis.
Our strengths have long been reflected in Australia's
interaction with countries in Asia. Over the past 50 years,
Australia's trade with Asia as a share of our total trade has
risen dramatically. Our financial, political and cultural links
have deepened. We have strong relationships and close friendships
with countries across the region.
But Australia's success will be based on choice, not chance.
In order to succeed, we must sustain the policy settings and
pathways that have served us well. We need to reinforce our strong
social foundations, including our national institutions, our
cultural diversity and our outward-looking society.
We will need to do more than this—we all need to respond
to the rapid changes occurring in our region.
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