Australia jumps into ASEAN

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Last year Australia's direct investment in Southeast Asia totaled A$28 billion, a figure Canberra clearly wants to increase

By Tommaso Magrini

The recent ASEAN summit was also attended by several partners, many of whom signed important cooperation agreements with the South East Asian bloc. Among them is certainly Australia. In Jakarta, home of the summit, Canberra presented an economic plan to increase business with the ASEAN area, which includes an immediate commitment of $44.7 million to create a new Australian "business team" based in the region. The plan, titled "Invested: Australia’s Southeast Asia Economic Strategy to 2040", states that Australian investments in the region are "underpaid". Written by Australia’s special envoy to Southeast Asia, Nicholas Moore, it contains 75 recommendations, including the establishment of a working group to identify and facilitate more mutual investment. Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has called it "a reinforcement of our long-awaited commitment, reflecting the speed of the transformation taking place and the scope of the opportunities that await us". Canberra also immediately appropriated nearly AUD 20 million for a Southeast Asia Business Exchange that will boost trade, and 6 million Australian dollars for a pilot placement and internship program for young professionals in the region. " By 2040, ASEAN will be the fourth largest market after the US, China and India. It is a huge opportunity for Southeast Asia, it is a huge opportunity for Australia," said Foreign Minister Penny Wong. Last year Australia’s direct investment in South-East Asia amounted to 28 billion Australian dollars, a figure that Canberra wants to increase sharply. The new projects just announced also identify some specific areas on which it is intended to strengthen links: agriculture and food, resources, green energy transition, infrastructure, education and skills, visitor economy, health, digital economy, professional and financial services and creative industries.

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