Australia in an Asian century

The long-awaited Australia in the Asian Century White Paper was published by the Australian Government last month with a goal to define and drive prosperity and population growth in partnership with surrounding Asian countries.

Australia Looks Forward to the Asian Century.

A number of factors are driving Australia’s alignment with Asia. Besides the obvious geographical proximity, Asia is set to become the world’s largest producer and consumer of goods and services. With a growing middle class which will soon be the largest in the world, Asia will continue to require the natural resources found in Australia like iron ore, coal and liquid natural gas (LNG).

Shifting demographics
Historically, Australia has had strong ties with Europe. Migration programs from European countries after World War II defined the demographics for the latter half of the 20th century. There’s been an increasingly large shift in migration with 25 percent of Australia’s current migrant population born in Asia.

The migration program for 2011-2012 saw seven of the top 10 countries contributing to Australian migration come from Asia including India, China, the Philippines, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, South Korea, and Vietnam. The largest percentage of new migrants, 23 percent, comes from the Indian sub-continent followed by 18.3 percent from the northern part of Asia.

Large Asian student contingent in Australia
Asia currently provides the majority of international students to Australia every year. More than 423,000 Asian students studying in Australia contribute billions of dollars to the local economy. The Australian government is working to keep as many of those highly-educated graduates to stay in the country by improving post-study work rights for students with a bachelor degree or a PHD. Students with engineering, geosciences and math degrees are in high demand in Australia.

Grants for Australian students to study in Asia
But the Asian century is not a one-way street. Australia has announced a $37 million AsiaBound grants program for more than 10,000 Australian students to study in Asia. The grants are valued at $2,000 to $5,000 for short-term exchange study. Other grants of $1,000 are being provided for intensive language training to help students preparing to study in Asia. The idea behind the grant program is to help Australian students establish networks with Asian students which will hopefully turn into lifelong professional relationships.

More Australians enjoying travel to Asia
A growing number of Australians are finding Asia to be the ideal place to holiday. In 2011, 3.5 million Australians travelled to Asia; most of the trips were to Southeast Asia. By 1995, almost 40 percent of Australians travelled to Asian countries. In 1998, Indonesia eclipsed both the United Kingdom and the United States as a tourist destination. It’s no wonder; it’s faster to get to Indonesia from Perth than to travel to the Eastern states of Australia.

Australia in the Asian Century will provide broader and deeper relationships in the Asian region creating a transformative period in history. Closer educational, cultural and personal relationships with Asia will benefit the entire nation.

By Moag Jey

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Article Source:  Australia Looks Forward to the Asian Century

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