This Project presents an examination of the economic and political issues involved in the Australian-ASEAN (Association of South-East Nations) trade relationship. The analysis sets out to highlight Australia's inadequate responses to the problems it is encountering because of rapid industrialisation in the emerging third world countries of ASEAN.
An empirical analysis of Australian-AS trade flows IS used to clarify the present position of Australian-ASEAN trade. This empirical analysis is then extended to identify the potential of ASEAN for Australian export development.
However, the main emphasis will centre around the impact which imports from ASEAN are having on some sections of Australian manufacturing industry. This is because the growth of Australian exports to ASEAN is directly related to the growth of Australian imports from ASEAN, and secondly, the economic and political issues involved in the Australian-ASEAN trade relationship relate directly to the competition caused by imports from ASEAN.
An examination is made of the extent of the protective barriers which have developed around Australian manufacturing industry as a result of import competition. The purpose of this review of Australia's protection policies is to demonstrate how politicised the protection issue has become, and to give some indication of the problems which will be encountered in implementing a policy of trade liberalisation.
Persistence with illiberal trade policies may cause the Australian economy to suffer long-term economic stagnation with a resulting decline in living standards, and has the potential of making Australia economically and politically less relevant to the development of the region. This Project attempts to show how a policy of trade liberalisation with respect to ASEAN is needed now in order to provide a necessary impetus to the growth of the Australian economy. This would not only help the Australian economy overcome its present recessed state and the associated problems of unemployment and falling living standards, but at the same time, increased trade with ASEAN would boost incomes and employment in their countries, and allow their peoples to achieve an improvement In their living standards. The Australian economic community will need to accept the structural change resulting from trade liberalisation, and work together to facilitate such change with a minimum of cost and disruption.
Finally, an examination is made of the possible reasons for the Australian Government being slow to take up the challenge presented by the industrialisation of the ASEAN nations. There is much to gain, economically, politically, and strategically, by Australia assuming a leadership role for the development of all countries within the region.