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Australia Seeks a Role in the Asian Century

Thursday, Nov. 1, 2012

Australia is officially seeking to shore up its role in the Asia-Pacific regional order, following the United States in pivoting toward a fuller embrace of Asia. A government strategy document released over the weekend, “Australia in the Asian Century,” sets out an all-encompassing plan for Australia to engage with and capitalize on relations with its Asian neighbors. Australia has ridden out the global financial crisis largely due China’s insatiable demand for natural resources. Future economic growth, however, will require broadening Australia’s export base. The government of Prime Minister Julia Gillard commissioned  the white paper to start planning for a future with deeper and more profitable relationships between Australia and its closest regional partners.

Underpinning the paper’s goals is the assumption that Australia needs to become a more “Asia-literate” and “Asia-capable” nation in order to seize the economic opportunities that will flow from Asia’s burgeoning middle class. The government has outlined a series of measures to achieve this, including ensuring that all school students learn an Asian language; requiring that public- and private-sector boards contain individuals with “deep experience in and knowledge of Asia”; expanding linkages between Australians and Asians for professional development; and supporting an Asia-Pacific free trade area. ...

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