China has attracts a large amount of attention, and is perceived by many in government, business and the broader society as synonymous with Asia. The Asian Century that we often hear discussed, could very well be replaced with the “Chinese Century” in the eyes of many business and government leaders. But how much of this sentiment is based in reality? Can we distil the Asian Century into a story about China?
China is the most important emerging market to the global economy, and arguably has been for hundreds of years, if not a thousand years. The 21st Century is no stranger to the allure of China, but do we in the west really understand China? Are we looking at China for what it is, or what we think it could be? Are we perhaps looking at opportunities in China through rose coloured glasses, tinted by the experiences of our home markets?
There is a lot of discussion amongst the media, business and government about the need to “go to Asia”, however it is often difficult for business owners and executives to know what is realistic and achievable when exploring Asian markets, and even more difficult to know which market to focus your attention, time and financial resources. Every day there are articles in the news media about the importance of Asia to the Australian economy, and regularly stories of the huge potential for Australian products in Asia. All of this is very true, however, its important to ask the question: Where is the best market opportunity for my company, my product/service mix, and what is a reasonable timeline for achieving results?
The Australian relationship with our closest Asian neighbour Indonesia has without doubt been strained over the past 18 months. Despite this recent tumult, Indonesia remains one of Australia’s most important regional partners, and as the most populous, and largest market in South East Asia, the Australian – Indonesian Relationship is critical to Australia’s successful political, business and social engagement with ASEAN.
The South Australian Government will be leading a Trade Mission to South East Asia in August as part of a trade and engagement strategy between South Australia and South East Asia. This is certainly a positive step for South Australian business, and will help build upon the competitive advantages that currently support our economy.
South Australian exports have continued to perform at around mid-term trend levels growing slowly, and continuing to be maintained by our traditional export of agricultural and mineral resource commodities – such as wheat, alcoholic beverages, iron-ore and copper concentrates. The majority of these exports are to Asia, demonstrated through five of the sixth largest export markets for South Australia being in Asia. Many of these export agreements are longstanding and have been developed over the past twenty years, with established large and medium sized South Australian firms.