Australia Essay Research Paper Australia Trade and

Australia Essay, Research Paper Australia- Trade and Immigration Background As Joycelyn has mentioned Australia’s having greater and greater interaction with its Asian neighbours, through the areas of

Australia Essay, Research Paper

Australia- Trade and Immigration Background As Joycelyn

has mentioned Australia’s having greater and greater

interaction with its Asian neighbours, through the areas of

trade and its active role in the regional trade organization -

APEC. Despite its location, Australia can hardly be thought

of being an Asian country. Not so long ago, Asian were

looked down upon, with a mixture of fear because of the

communist aggression, pity because of their poverty, and

contempt, as they dumped cheap and poorly made products

to do Australian workers out of job. For decades, high

prohibitive tariffs blocked the imports of Asian goods, and a

‘White Australia’ policy fenced off Asian migrants. However,

the situation is reversed in the past 2 decades. With East

Asia being the fastest growing economy, and the

development of regional trade blocs in their traditional

trading partners such as the EC and NAFTA that tend to

emphasize internal trade, Asia becomes Australia’s single

most promising opportunity. And now, Australia is eager to

be Asian. Trade (See overhead – Exports) In 1994, some

60% of Australia’s total exports equivalent to more than 60

B A$ went to Asia. While Japan remains to be their largest

trading partner, S Korea replaced US to take the second

place. But at the same time, Australia’s share of Asia’s total

imports is declining, down from 3% in 1985 to 2% in 95.

The main reason is that Asian countries are trading more

among themselves, and importing more hi-er value-added

products, rather than the common Australian exported

commodities. However, steering towards value-adding

industries is not easy. Besides infrastructure and labor

reform, Australian manufacturers will become head on with

some of Asia’s most efficient operations. Anyway, Australia

has shown its committment to free trading. The former Labor

government has committed to cutting the average tariff for

most imports to 5% by 2000, compared to 20% in 1983.

And the trend towards a more open economy will be

continued by the new Liberal-National gov’t. Most domestic

business will not survive under such open competition, but

Australia sees this as an opportunity to reshape its

manufacturing base to become narrower and deeper, and

more competitive. They see an ideal picture of Australia

importing cheap manufactured goods from Asia instead of

making expensive ones at home behind tariff, and Asia

buying mineral and food from them. Yet the Asia’s

super-achievers have never been the faithful worshipper of

free-trade. And Australia has found it hard to dismantle the

barriers to processed minerals and food in the Asian

markets, and this impedes their development of value-adding

industries and job creation. But from the Asia’s pt of view,

Australia’s tiny population of 17 M means little to the Asian

giants, for example when compared to Indonesia’s 180 M.

A qoute from the Malaysian Info minister, ‘Australia depends

on Asia and not the other way around.’ may reflects

Australia’s position, at least this is the way the Asians see it.

Immigration (See Overhead – Immigration) Another sign of

Australia’s willingness to open is its generous immigration

policy. The # admitted stayed over 100,000 in the 80s, but

was cut back to 80,000 in 92. Most of them were from

Asia. Besides the categories of family reunion and refugee,

Australia, like Canada, also attracted hundred of thousands

of skilled or business immigrants from Hong Kong where

people fled as the Chinese takeover approaches. These

people brought in an enormous amt of capital, and also

initiated a boom in the real estate market. The proportion of

Australian with Asian origins are expected to increase to 7%

in 2000, as compared to 4% now. Most Australians feel

uneasy about this sudden change in the ethnic mixtures of

their countries, and opposing voices are high. The

unemployment figure is double digit already, and most of the

immigrants are unskilled since they were admitted for having

relations in Australia. New policies call for lower # admitted,

and more quotas given to people with skills and higher

education background. Australians are apprehensive about

the pace of Asian immigration, and tension is rising. Many

complain that the new comers keep themselves separate

rather than integrating into community life. But this requires

committment from both sides, and it’s not easy to be done

right the way. Most of new comers have language problems,

esp those came for family reunion. Australians on the other

hand, have little knowledge of other Asian cultures, and

conflicts can occur easily due to misunderstanding. On the

extreme side, fringe groups such as the neo-Nazi Australian

Nationalist Movement and the League of Rights explicitly

claimed that immigration was bad if it meant more Asians.

And the cases of racist violence is increasing. The last PM

Paul Keating actually started some initiatives to narrow the

gap between the local people and immigrants, such as

introducing Asian culture in the school curriculum. An

interesting pt to note, the current PM Mr Howard publicly

opposed the multi-cultural policies, such as hiring

interpreters. His attitude can be constrasted to Canada

which take pride in its multiculturalism, and we’ll discuss it

further later. Challenges So far it seems that Australia is

heading in the right direction, but its successful integration

into Asia won’t be easy. Opposing forecs come both

externally and internally. At home, few Australians see

themselves as Asian. They already felt hostile about the

Japanese investment in their real estate and tourism, and

more interaction with Asian countries is uneasy esp to many

old Australians. On the other side, after all these years of

isolation and avoidance of its Asian neighbours, Australia

can hardly convince its neighbours that it’s Asian. Instead

they try to be an odd man among its neighbours, that is to

integrate fully into the economic life of the region, while

preserving its western values. But from the Asian side, they

may not easily accept Australia’s western practices. The

main issue lies in the difference in their attitude towards

individual freedom and respect of human rights. Take some

examples. Dr Mohammad resented that Australia refuse to

censor a tv program ‘Embassy’ which he claimed was

mocking Malaysia. Australia also got into diplomatic

problems with certain authoritarian regimes for critizing their

behaviors. Its relationship with Indonesia is always tense for

its criticisms of Indonesia over human rights, corruption, and

the status of East Timor. Even Singapore didn’t like

Australia’s comment on its harrassment of the Asian Wall St

Journal and other newspaper. As other Asian countries all

share similar culture and values, Australia with its western

nature would easily be labelled as intruder. And they all

understand that Australia’s friendliness towards Asia is

economically driven, it comes out of the mind, not the heart.

Moreover, some of them even suspect it of acting as a

stalking horse for western interests. Malaysia proposed a

regional East Asia Econ Caucus which will exclude the US

and Australia, and this is clashing over with APEC in which

Australia and US are active participant. So, how can

Australia manage its odd man role in the Asian region?

Should it go for Multiculturalism or a melting pot policy like

the US? How can it balance its relationship with its

neighbours while preserving its western values?