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Tuesday, 10 May 1994
Page: 545


Senator TEAGUE (8.47 p.m.) —I move:

  That the Senate take note of the document.

The East Asia Analytical Unit has produced some very good work. Two of its reports are tabled in the Senate today, one with regard to South-East Asia and one with regard to India. The East Asia Analytical Unit within the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade was first created for the study which we all know as the Garnaut report. Professor Ross Garnaut, having been an Australian economist advising the Australian government, then Ambassador to China and now of course Professor of Economics at the Australian National University, was asked to write a report on the north-east Asian ascendancy in Australia's economic perspective. It is an absolutely fundamental report that gives focus to Australia's continuing opportunities in Japan, China, Korea, Taiwan and Hong Kong.

  The success of that study has built up a secretariat which is now known as the East Asia Analytical Unit. In 1992 this unit produced a report entitled Australia's business challenge: South-East Asia in the 1990s, which was another useful study of South-East Asia. In 1994 the same unit has produced a study, adding to that 1992 report, about Australian investment in South-East Asia. It looks at the relationship between investment and trade and the chicken and egg elements of those two important economic factors. It chooses its subtitle from the analogy of sailing. It says that there are new winds of growth blowing in Asia, not least in South-East Asia, so we should let Australia change tack and take advantage of the prevailing wind in our neighbourhood. The report is called Changing tack.

  I congratulate Pamela Fayle and those other members of the unit who carried out this study. All who are interested in our economic relations with Asia will want to read the report thoroughly. At the moment Australia's direct investment abroad finds only 4.6 per cent of the total in the ASEAN countries. This figure is growing, and particularly in the later 1980s following a period of relative decline. I am sure that when we look at Australian trade prospects, we will make sure that not only will we focus on our major target area—China, Japan, Korea, Taiwan and Hong Kong, which are sometimes called the East Asian tigers—but will continue to have as a target South-East Asia.

  There are some patterns of investment now—indeed increasing investment—from the tigers into South-East Asia. Last month I visited China, Korea, Hong Kong and Taiwan and had considered discussions with economic ministers in all those areas. I noted in particular that investment to South-East Asia, and to some extent investment here, is not only linked with the new opportunities that are emerging in Indo-China, such as Vietnam, but that the prospects of good returns from investment are being seen by our big neighbours in the far north in terms of our South-East Asian neighbours.

  This is a timely report which I and others who are interested in our economic relations in this region will want to study carefully.

  Debate (on motion by Senator Ellison) adjourned.