Charting WA’s Future with ASEAN: The WA-ASEAN Trade and Investment Dialogue 2019

20 Nov 2019
Charting WA’s Future with ASEAN: The WA-ASEAN Trade and Investment Dialogue 2019
The WA State Government’s recently released Asian Engagement Strategy clearly articulates that while WA’s economic prosperity is considerably derived from its trade and investment links with the dynamic markets of Asia (particularly Northeast Asia) - the collective task of achieving a broader and more integrated WA-Asia economic partnership is ongoing.
Opportunities for WA to build deeper services, investment and people-to-people relationships in Asia are no more pertinent than with and across the diverse Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) region. The ASEAN Community, comprised of ten growing Southeast Asian nations - including Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam –  set to become the world’s fourth largest economic bloc in a decade’s time.
In 2017-18 WA’s nearly $13bn of merchandise exports to ASEAN were, whilst by no means insignificant, shadowed by the State’s iron ore and LNG-led near-$100bn export relationship with Northeast Asia’s key China, Hong Kong, Japan, Korea and Taiwan markets. With only three ASEAN countries in WA’s top ten rank of merchandise trading partners, strengthening WA-ASEAN trade is crucial to the State’s economic diversification and growth priorities.
It is in full acknowledgement of this task that the State Government hosted the Western Australia-ASEAN Trade and Investment Dialogue 2019 in November, attracting both established and emerging ASEAN leaders to WA. Following on from the inaugural Dialogue in 2018, this year’s Dialogue (also convened by the Perth USAsia Centre) was developed to showcase WA’s capabilities to key Southeast Asian trade and policy leaders, and to publicly exchange views on the opportunities for enhanced WA-ASEAN economic engagement.

The WA-ASEAN Trade and Investment Dialogue 2019
Held over two days, and now in its second year, the 2019 Dialogue featured:
  • Western Australian Immersion Day – 14 November
Keynote speakers, panellist, stakeholders, staff and Board members of the Perth USAsia Centre visited the City’s many landmarks, and industry operations to showcase all Western Australia has to offer the ASEAN region.The whistlestop tour included:
  • Optus Stadium
  • Kings Park
  • Rio Tinto Remote Operations Centre
  • Pawsey Supercomputing Centre
With lunch served at the Perth’s iconic Blue Duck Restaurant
  • Dialogue Program – 15 November
Held at The University of Western Australia’s Club, the one-day Dialogue featured experts and influencers from across government, academic, business and community, hailing from throughout the state, nation and ASEAN Region, including Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Vietnam and Thailand.
Keynote Speakers and Feature Presentations:
  • Hon Peter Tinley AM MLA – Minister for Asian Engagement
  • Rebecca Brown- Director General, Department of Jobs, Tourism, Science and Innovation Steve Clarke – Manager Director, Cell Media Australia and Asia Pacific
  • Professor Gordon Flake, CEO, Perth USAsia Centre
  • Dr Imran Lum – Director, Islamic Finance, National Australia Bank, and member of Australia-ASEAN Council Board
  • Justin McArdle, CEO, Founder and Creative Producer, FrameVR
  • Eduardo Pedrosa – Secretary General, Pacific Economic Cooperation Council
  • Kyle Springer, Senior Analyst, Perth USAsia Centre
  • Dr Hassan Wirajuda – Former Foreign Minister of Indonesia
In Conversation
  • Tamerlaine Beasley – member of Australia-ASEAN Council Board
  • Erin Watson-Lynn – Senior Fellow, Perth USAsia Centre
  • Danny Ardianto – Public Policy and Government Relations Manager, Google Asia Pacific
  • Dr Kate Brooks – Director, MTPConnect Stakeholder Engagement WA (Moderator)
  • Nathanael Foo – Business and Innovation Manager, threeonesix
  • Cal Foulner – Director, Beanstalk AgTech (Moderator)
  • Jemma Green – Co-Founder and Chairman, PowerLedger
  • Marina Kusumawardhani – Ash Center Fellow, Harvard Kennedy School
  • Dr Minh Thu To – Institute for Foreign Policy and Strategic Studies, Vietnam
  • Fuadi Pitsuwan – Beanspire Coffee, Thailand
  • Yasmin Poole – Plan International Ambassador (Moderator)
  • Redza Shahid – Co-Founder, Grub Cycle Malaysia
  • Stephen Skulley – Senior Trade and Investment Commissioner, Singapore-Designate Austrade
  • Larissa Taylor – CEO, Grain Industry Association of Western Australia
  • Aukrit Unahalekhaka – Co-Founder & CEO, Ricult, Thailand
  • Dr Jeffrey Wilson – Research Director, Perth USAsia Centre (Moderator)
  • Hayley Winchcombe – Chair ASEAN-Australia Strategic Youth Partnership
  • Tom Goerke, Director Innovation Centres Australia, CISCO
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More images from the day can be viewed here.

The ASEAN Story
Since its founding in 1967, ASEAN has underpinned peace, security and economic development in Southeast Asia. Integrating the countries and communities of one of the most culturally, economically and politically diverse regions in the world, ASEAN celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2017, with a continued focus on strategic and economic integration – both within its market and across the broader Indo-Pacific region.
Australia looks north to ASEAN with a rich history of engagement, including as the bloc’s first Dialogue Partner in 1974. The Commonwealth Government engages ASEAN both as a collective bloc, and with its individual Member States. For example, Australia’s strategic and economic engagement with Indonesia encompasses bilateral commitments such as the landmark Lombok Treaty and the Indonesia-Australia Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement – and ASEAN-led multilateral initiatives such as the East Asia Summit and the recently-finalised Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership.
The Future of the WA-ASEAN Economic Relationship
The stability and breadth of the Australia-ASEAN relationship enables and supports State-led economic engagement with ASEAN’s individual countries and collective market. Supported by the State’s economic development and diversification units, including the new Invest and Trade WA and via WA’s Global Offices in the ASEAN region, WA’s businesses are primed to particulate in the continued economic rise of ASEAN. Canvassed at the Dialogue were stories of existing WA business success in ASEAN, opportunities for new sectors of engagement, and business lessons from emerging leaders in the rapidly developing region. For example:
  • A new opportunity sector: The global digital games market is larger than the film and music industries combined, and is increasingly incorporating Virtual Reality technology. Justin McArdle, CEO and Founder of Frame VR, is utilising this emerging technology to develop education and training modules for business utilisation. Increasingly, the ASEAN market is reaching a VR cost and quality “sweet spot” for deployment;
  • An emerging success story: WA’s expertise in distributed energy resources technology and renewable energy trading is being utilised in ASEAN. Jemma Green, Cofounder of Power Ledger, discussed the growing utilisation of her company’s blockchain-powered peer-to-peer platform in select electricity and renewable energy certificate trading markets in ASEAN, including in Thailand;
  • Learning from ASEAN’s business leaders: Redza Shahid, Co-Founder of Grub Cycle Malaysia, discussed his business model to help sustainably manage Malaysia’s food wastage challenges. Facilitating app-based sales of low-cost surplus food, Shahid’s company has reduced more than 10,000 Kg’s of Malaysian food wastage - and Australia and WA has its own considerable food waste challenges that need addressing.
For WA to strengthen its trade and investment relationship with ASEAN, realising opportunities in the services and technology sectors (as well as in merchandise goods trade) is essential. Equally necessary is leveraging the WA-ASEAN connections that already exist through diaspora and alumni relationships, and fostering new connections driven by youth-led institutions (such as the ASEAN-Australia Strategic Youth Partnership) and digital technologies. With the implementation of the Asian Engagement Strategy underway, the WA-ASEAN Trade and Investment Dialogue 2019 highlighted that WA has the capacity and connections to grow this essential economic relationship.


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