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How can Australian industry expand its influence in South-East Asia while at the same time responsibly leading the field in climate change and sustainability strategies?
Anton Rossouw, project director, Protegic, South Australian IT company
Expanding our influence in the region will require, among other things, building a generation of young Asia-literate Australians able to deal with their regional counterparts as easily as they do with their compatriots at home. This is not only about language skills but extends to understanding cultural and business environments across the region.
Few regions of the world offer more trade and investment potential to Australian business than South-East Asia. The 10 member-countries of the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN) have a combined population of some 590 million people and a total gross domestic product of more than $1.8 trillion.
About 42 per cent of our entire export base – some 18,500 Australian exporters – do business with ASEAN. And the introduction of the ASEAN-Australia-New Zealand free trade area on January 1 this year further enhances opportunities for trade and investment in the region.
Australia’s business reputation in the region is a key asset in responsibly expanding our influence in Asia. Beyond our own laws and regulations, many Australian companies have their own codes and cultures which direct them to be corporate citizens of the highest standing. Leading by example is an effective lever.
In recent years we have strengthened relations with ASEAN on vital regional issues including security, counter-terrorism, climate change and people smuggling. Climate change adaptation and mitigation offers particular opportunities for business. Australia has already implemented climate change policies, including multi-billion dollar investments in energy efficiency. This is a global challenge, and for business the transformation to a green economy is an opportunity for investment and employment.
Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd