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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...

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...or 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?
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