Western Australia has longstanding relationships with many countries in Asia. These relationships have been largely founded on the State’s resources export industry and Asia’s demand for those resources. This has provided benefits to both Western Australia (investment, exports and jobs) and to Asia (a long-term and stable source of imports).
In many ways, Western Australia’s engagement with Asia has been successful. Western Australia has the highest share of any state of Australia’s merchandise exports to China, Japan and the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN); and has established strong trading relationships with many other countries. The State’s relationship with Asian countries is more than economic, with cultural, sporting and education exchanges developing over time.
Western Australia has many things in its favour for engaging with Asia. The State shares the same time zone with key Asian business centres such as Hong Kong, Shanghai, Singapore and Kuala Lumpur. We have much potential to offer beyond the traditional resources exports. As many countries in Asia enter a new phase of economic development, there will be opportunities for the State’s agrifood, tourism, education and business services exports.
However, simply relying on these factors will not be enough. Western Australia needs to be active in pursuing opportunities in Asia. To be successful, the State will need not only the capacity to supply high-quality goods and services, but to develop the trust of Asian countries. We need to have a relationship with Asia that is more than transactional.
The Western Australian government is developing an Asian Engagement Strategy to outline how the State can – and will – develop these long-term relationships. Given the sheer size of Asia – both in terms of area and population – the Strategy will also help the Western Australian Government to lead and better coordinate the multitude of interactions that currently occur between Western Australia and nations, provinces, cities, industry and community organisations and individuals. The Strategy will also explore how to harness the alumni of people in Asia who have studied or worked in Western Australia and the diaspora Asian communities in Western Australia to help build these relationships.
This consultation paper is the first formal step in developing the Asian Engagement Strategy. The objectives of this paper are to:
- Explain Asia’s growing importance for Western Australia;
- Outline how Western Australia currently engages with Asia;
- Invite submissions to respond to the consultation questions about how Western Australia can better engage with Asia in the future
Submissions in response to this consultation paper are very welcome and can be made through the Department of Jobs, Tourism, Science and Innovation’s website. The closing date for submissions is Friday 18 January 2019.