Invested: Australia’s Southeast Asia Economic Strategy to 2040
Foreword by Nicholas Moore AO Special Envoy for Southeast Asia
In November 2022, I was honoured to be asked by the Prime Minister to lead the development of a national strategy for greater trade and investment between Australia and Southeast Asia.
Australia’s prosperity and security is intimately linked to the prosperity and security of its neighbours, and their security and prosperity is similarly linked to ours. Australia has much to offer the region through trade and investment, and we can play a key role in helping maximise the prosperity of our neighbours.
While the countries of our region are extraordinarily diverse, what unifies them is their keen sense of being neighbours, including the importance they attach to strong regional architecture centred on ASEAN. This strategy has a range of general recommendations to boost economic engagement between Australia and Southeast Asia, as well as specific recommendations for each country.
With the region expected to continue its strong economic growth (at a forecast compound average growth rate of 4 per cent to 2040), the purpose of this strategy is to make recommendations that will see our economic ties deepen and broaden. While Australia is closely engaged in the region, including through a network of trade agreements, we can do more to boost trade and investment. Australia’n recent years, while overall direct investment into the region from other countries has increased materially.
Australia is well placed to accelerate our economic engagement with Southeast Asia. We have the potential to be a substantial investor due to our well-capitalised corporate sector, our deep and sophisticated capital markets, and our substantial national savings pool, including our superannuation industry. If attractive opportunities are available, these savings could be available for direct investment, as well as supporting Australian companies with sound investment plans. There are also significant opportunities to boost our trade relationship to help meet the needs of businesses and consumers throughout the region.
This strategy has been guided by extensive consultations with stakeholders across Australia and the region, including in business, government and the not-for-profit sector. As part of this process, we received around 200 written submissions and spoke to over 750 people in consultations. The consultation process was supported by extensive analysis to highlight the current state of trade and investment and identify future opportunities in the region. The volume and tone of the responses provide a strong basis for optimism, and underscore the vital role the Australian Government has in assisting this development.
Boosting trade and investment will require a long-term effort from both business and government through to 2040 and beyond. The strategy should be reviewed annually to examine outcomes and to take account of changing circumstances. With the right approach, we can realise the extraordinary opportunities our region presents.
Nicholas Moore AO
Special Envoy for Southeast Asia
1 September 2023