Boosting Australia’s trade and investment engagement with Southeast Asia

The Australian Government has released a major new economic strategy to boost trade and investment ties with Southeast Asia, one of the world’s fastest-growing global regions.

The Australian Government has released a major new economic strategy to boost trade and investment ties with Southeast Asia, one of the world’s fastest-growing global regions.

Invested: Australia’s Southeast Asia Economic Strategy to 2040 was launched by Prime Minister Anthony Albanese at the ASEAN Indo-Pacific Forum in Jakarta on 6 September.

Developed by Mr Nicholas Moore AO, the Government-appointed Special Envoy to Southeast Asia, the strategy sets out a practical pathway to increase Australia’s two-way trade and investment with the region and deepen economic engagement.

Strengthening trade and investment in Southeast Asia

Australia’s trade with Southeast Asia has grown in nominal terms over the past 20 years. However, the region’s share of Australia’s total trade has remained constant at around 14%. 

Australian investment in the region is also underweight. In 2022, Australia’s investment stocks in Southeast Asia represented only 3.4% of Australia’s total investment overseas. Australia’s foreign direct investment in the region has also stagnated in the last decade. 

With Southeast Asia as a bloc likely to be the world’s fourth-largest economy by 2040, the strategy found Australia needs to do more if it is to benefit from the region’s economic growth.

‘Southeast Asia’s fast-growing economies present a major opportunity for Australian business, but we haven’t kept pace with their exponential growth,’ says Prime Minister Albanese.

‘Our economic future lies with Southeast Asia. This strategy outlines how we can harness this growth and seize the vast trade and investment opportunities our region presents.’

Austrade support for new trade and investment initiatives

The Government has announced three priority initiatives as an initial response to the Strategy’s 75 recommendations. Austrade will lead one initiative and deliver another with government partners.

Southeast Asia Business Exchange program

Austrade will lead this $19.2 million program to support increased two-way trade between Australia and Southeast Asia. This initiative will include:

  • targeted business missions to Southeast Asia in priority sectors
  • after-visit support for Australian companies
  • programs to raise Australian businesses’ awareness of opportunities in Southeast Asia
  • marketing campaigns to promote Australian goods and services in the region.

This program will also include a local campaign to raise awareness of trade and investment opportunities in the region to Australian business and consumers.

Investment deal teams

Austrade, DFAT and EFA will deliver this $70.2 million, four-year initiative to increase Australian investment in Southeast Asia.

The teams will be based in the region to work with Australian institutional and corporate investors, as well as Southeast Asian businesses and governments. They will work to identify opportunities and facilitate investment by Australian business. They will also provide market intelligence to investors and advise on risk management and regulatory processes.

Placements and internships pilot program for young professionals

This program will make available placements and internships (6 to 12 months in length) for young professionals from Australia in Southeast Asia, and for young professionals from Southeast Asia in Australia.

Priority sectors offering growth

The strategy identified 10 priority sectors offering the most potential for growth:

  • agriculture and food
  • resources
  • green energy transition
  • infrastructure
  • education and skills
  • visitor economy
  • healthcare
  • digital economy
  • professional and financial services
  • creative industries.

The Australian Government and Austrade will focus efforts on raising awareness, removing blockages, building capability and deepening investment in these 10 sectors.

Contact Austrade to find out more about trade and investment opportunities in Southeast Asia.

Find out more 

Find out more about Invested: Australia’s Southeast Asia Economic Strategy to 2040 on the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade website.

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