Australia’s economic relationship with ASEAN

06 Nov 2015


  • Divya Skene

ASEAN is an important region for Australian businesses, second only to China in the ranking of Australia’s leading trading partners, although the diversity of economic systems and levels of development in the region means that analysis of ASEAN’ s relationship with Australia is not always as insightful as analysis of Australia’s individual relationships with the member countries of ASEAN.

With the impending creation of the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) with its aim of greater economic integration within the region, it is useful to take stock of Australia’s relationship with the region as a whole. This paper reviews key aspects of Australia’s relationship with ASEAN from a macroeconomic standpoint but also from a company and consumer perspective as seen through the results of Australia’s International Business Survey, the International Visitor Survey and unpublished data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics. Five important aspects of Australia’s relationship with ASEAN are identified:

  1. Australia’s goods and services exporters are already deeply engaged with the region.
  2. ASEAN is key to the immediate business expansion plans of Australia’s internationally active businesses.
  3. Australian companies are experienced operators across ASEAN’s diverse markets.
  4. Australia and ASEAN are similarly invested in each other’s economies.
  5. Consumers from the ASEAN region are now key drivers of Australian education and tourism exports.

For business, a regional perspective delivers a sense of scale. It highlights the extent to which Australian business, education providers and the wider community are already engaged with ASEAN’s businesses and its people through a range of economic activities.

The analysis highlights that some of Australia’s economic activities in the region are strong in both value and/or volume measures - for example, ASEAN commands a leading position based on the value of goods and services exports, and the number of exporters.

The paper is available at: