The White Paper suggests Tasmania's clean environment will be increasingly valued by Asian consumers. Image by aschaf on flickr.

Leading Tasmania into the Asian Century

27 March 2013

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Peter Drysdale is Emeritus Professor of Economics and the Head of the East Asian Bureau of Economic Research and East Asia Forum at the Crawford School. He is widely recognised as the leading intellectual architect of APEC. He is the author of a number of books and papers on international trade and economic policy in East Asia and the Pacific, including his prize-winning book, International Economic Pluralism: Economic Policy in East Asia and the Pacific.

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Tasmania has a golden opportunity to make the most of the way that it engages with Asia, according to one of the lead authors of the Tasmanian Government’s White Paper, Tasmania’s Place in the Asian Century.

Emeritus Professor Peter Drysdale of the Crawford School of Public Policy at The Australian National University says the rapid growth of Asia offers Tasmania the chance to redefine its future. However, he warns that this will only happen if government, business and the Tasmanian community are all pulling in the same direction.

“The Asian Century presents Tasmania the chance to redefine its long-term economic and social growth trajectory,” he said.

“Tasmania brings substantial assets to the challenge of the Asian Century, including a natural endowment that will support a big expansion in food and natural resource products from the clean environment, both of which will be increasingly highly valued by richer and more discerning Asian consumers. There is also a chance to capture a bigger share of the global action in high-end research-based activities around Tasmania as a base and as a gateway to Antarctica and the Southern Ocean.

“But the truth is that Tasmania is less well prepared than other states to take advantage of the rise of Asia. Tasmania has the lowest number of Asian-language speaking or Asian-born residents of any state or territory.

“The White Paper sets out a way forward, but it’s an agenda that no one government can deliver. It will require the commitment of the Tasmanian state Government, successor governments and leaders right across the Tasmanian community,” said Professor Drysdale.

The White Paper was prepared after months of consultation through public submissions and stakeholder consultation in a partnership between the Tasmanian Government and the Crawford School. The team at the Crawford School was led by Professor Drysdale, and coordinated by the HC Coombs Policy Forum. Professor Drysdale was a member of the Advisory Committee to the Australian Government White Paper on Australia in the Asian Century released last October.

He said the Tasmania report sets out some clear goals that the state can realistically aim for in order to make the most of the Asian Century.

“These goals include measures designed to build business capabilities through lifting educational outcomes; developing networks in key Asian markets through trade missions and leveraging the experience and networks of businesses already engaged in Asia; enhancing the capacity of young Tasmanians to engage with Asia; promoting recognition of Asia and the contribution of Asian investment, migration and students in the wider community; and encouraging social engagement with the Asian century.

“This ambitious agenda is unlikely to be achieved unless some important conditions are met, including establishing a locus in government to follow through on the initiatives and developing a coalition in the community to entrench, and continuously refresh support of the engagement with Asia. Broad bipartisan support of community-backed change will also be essential to success,” he said.

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