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Australia’s fresh approach to Southeast Asia trade

The Australian Government has unveiled a comprehensive economic strategy aimed at strengthening trade and investment ties with Southeast Asia.

“Invested: Australia’s Southeast Asia Economic Strategy to 2040” was introduced by Prime Minister Anthony Albanese during the ASEAN Indo-Pacific Forum in Jakarta on September 6th.

The strategy, developed by Mr Nicholas Moore AO, the Government-appointed Special Envoy to Southeast Asia, outlines a practical approach to enhance Australia’s economic engagement with the rapidly growing Southeast Asian region. While Australia’s trade with Southeast Asia has shown nominal growth over the past two decades, the region’s share of Australia’s total trade has remained relatively unchanged at around 14%. Moreover, Australian investments in the region represent only 3.4% of the country’s total overseas investments in 2022, and foreign direct investment in Southeast Asia has seen limited growth over the last decade.

As Southeast Asia is projected to become the world’s fourth-largest economy by 2040, the strategy emphasises the need for Australia to capitalise on the region’s economic potential.

Prime Minister Albanese highlighted the economic opportunities presented by Southeast Asia, noting, “Southeast Asia’s rapidly growing economies offer significant potential for Australian businesses. However, we have not fully tapped into this growth. This strategy outlines our plan to leverage these opportunities and maximize trade and investment in the region.”

The Government has announced three priority initiatives in response to the strategy’s recommendations:

Southeast Asia Business Exchange program

This program, with a budget of $19.2 million, aims to boost two-way trade between Australia and Southeast Asia. It will involve targeted business missions, post-visit support for Australian companies, awareness programs about opportunities in Southeast Asia, and campaigns to promote Australian products and services in the region.

Additionally, a local campaign will raise awareness among Australian businesses and consumers about trade and investment prospects in Southeast Asia.

Investment deal teams

Austrade, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT), and Export Finance Australia (EFA) will collaborate on this four-year, $70.2 million initiative.

The teams will work within the region to identify investment opportunities, facilitate Australian business investments, provide market intelligence, and offer advice on risk management and regulatory processes.

Placements and internships pilot program for young professionals

This program will offer placements and internships lasting 6 to 12 months for young professionals from Australia in Southeast Asia and vice versa.

The strategy identifies ten priority sectors with significant growth potential, including agriculture and food, resources, green energy transition, infrastructure, education and skills, the visitor economy, healthcare, the digital economy, professional and financial services, and creative industries. The Australian Government and Austrade will focus on raising awareness, removing barriers, building capacity, and increasing investment in these sectors.

More here.

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Yajush Gupta

Yajush Gupta

Yajush is a journalist at Dynamic Business. He previously worked with Reuters as a business correspondent and holds a postgrad degree in print journalism.

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