Deepening Our Trade Ties at ASEAN

Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has used a speech to the ASEAN summit this morning (06 September 2023) to release the government’s South-East Asian Economic Strategy, a blueprint aimed at driving trade and investment north into the region. Our trade with some ASEAN countries has stalled in recent years, despite the regional economy booming over that time.

The PM has committed almost $100 million to unlock Australia’s trade and investment opportunities with South-East Asia as the government intensifies efforts to reduce its economic reliance on China. S-E Asia is Australia’s second-largest two-way trading partner after China, and is ahead of the United States and India.

The PM is in Indonesia for the ASEAN leaders’ summit in Jakarta before heading to the Philippines later this week, and then on to India over the weekend for the G20 summit.

The federal government has also promised almost $20 million to set up a ‘Business Exchange’ to help Australian business enter the South-East Asian market and promote opportunities in the region to them, and a further $5 million to set up a pilot internship program for young professionals.

Australia urged to expand flights to Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam
Australia should also expand flights to key south-east Asian markets such as Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam, according to a sweeping economic blueprint to boost trade.

The strategy, which is also being released by the Prime Minister today, calls on the government to cut foreign investment barriers, fast track visas and urgently improve Australia’s ‘south-east Asia literacy.’

Australia’s two-way trade with south-east Asian countries was worth $178bn in 2022, but has been rising more slowly than average economic growth across the ‘powerhouse’ region, the document warns.

According to a report in The Guardian today, a government source has said Australia’s lagging performance in south-east Asia was both a “lost opportunity and a strategic liability”.

The source said Australia wanted to boost its trade and investment links to give countries in the region ‘options and alternatives’ – an apparent reference to intensifying competition with China for influence.

The report urges the government to establish Austrade ‘landing pads’ in Indonesia and Vietnam to support Australian tech companies, similar to an existing initiative in Singapore. It lists 10 priority sectors as offering the most potential for growth, including agriculture, resources, the green energy transition and infrastructure.

Read our related article: Grants for Singapore Green Agreement

For more information about international trade and shipping – whether with ASEAN or any other region – contact us here at Colless Young. As licensed Customs Brokers and International Freight Forwarders we offer correct, professional advice on all your import and export transactions. We are based in Brisbane and provide a complete range of logistics services, for both airfreight and sea cargo through all Australian ports and airports.