The Australian Prime Minister, the Hon Julia Gillard MP, released the ‘Australia in the Asian Century’ White Paper in October. The White Paper sets out the Australian government’s position and response to the rapid economic, social and other trends and changes underway in the Asian region, and the likely impacts on Australia. It will be a reference point for the ongoing public debate in Australia – and by extension the Australian diaspora in Asia – about our place in the region. Already it has generated wide ranging responses and views in the media.
The White Paper itself is a large and comprehensive document of more than 300 pages. It sets out 25 objectives for Australia over the next 13 years, in five main areas - the economy, education and skills, commerce, regional security and culture. The White Paper chapter on ‘Operating in and connecting to growing Asian markets’ deals with the integration of Australian business in Asia, including Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs). The chapter references an Asian Century Business Engagement Plan, and calls on Australian companies to ‘embrace new business models’ to help companies ‘link into regional and global value chains.’
BuddeComm’s senior analyst Asia, Peter Evans has lived and worked in Asia for over 17 years, travelling frequently back to Australia. He has written the following analysis including his reaction to the White Paper. He argues that the White Paper has a disconnected feel about.