Asia's call unanswered

Why haven't we built on the platform for Asian economic relations that were initiated under Whitlam?

THERE is some irony in the cheap slogan from the 2006 Tourism Australia campaign which featured Lara Bingle - "where the bloody hell are you?" - when it comes to our presence in Asia.

Despite all the talk about demand for food, we have hardly developed a presence in the region.

While the advertisement was targeted at the UK and Germany as well as Japan, it highlighted how little we know our markets - Japanese tourism to Australia has actually declined by 5.7 per cent following that campaign.

It also emphasised an attitude of sitting back and expecting the masses to flock to us.

Now we're sitting back and waiting for Asia to come and spend its money on our produce, while we're losing out to other countries such as Brazil, Canada, the US and New Zealand.

We are paying for our own complacency when it comes to tapping into markets in this region.

Australia's trade growth rate into China has slipped from 10 per cent to 8pc between 2006-2010 ("Can we sell ourselves to the Asian market?", pp10-11).

Why haven't we built on the platform for Asian economic relations that were initiated under the Whitlam government in the 1970s?

We should have had a head start.

In recent years it would seem we have forgotten how develop and maintain those ever important relationships for conducting trade.

Instead, as a nation, we've become like the farmer who grows a product and expects it should sell because he grew it, rather than knowing our market and our customer.

A clean, green image and our proximity to Asia should be just the cherry on top, not a reason for us to sit back and expect our neighbours to come knocking.

We are also headed down a road where we are opening Australia (including our supply chains) to be sold to Asia (and other regions), when we should be focusing on how we can get ourselves established on Asian soil, developing supply chains and relationships to get our product in the door.

We therefore need to be asking ouselves "where do we want to be in the Asian market?" rather than just telling ourselves Asia should be buying our food.

The food boom therefore needs to be Australian made.

Date: Newest first | Oldest first


1/12/2013 2:33:04 PM

Actually clean and green is not the "cherry on top".. It is the minimum acceptable standard to get into these niche markets. Australia's problem is that it's missing the cherry on top...what do we have going for us over and above clean and green? At this stage (with a couple of notable exceptions) - not much !
Ted O'Brien.
1/12/2013 9:12:20 PM

.."initiated under Whitlam"??? It wasn't Whitlam who opened the door to China. China opened the door to China. And The Australian Wheat Board had been doing business with China for years before that.
A matter of opinionA selection of editorials from around the Fairfax Agricultural Media group covering the issues of the week.


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