Close on the heels of “Engaging with India” conference in Sydney on May 16 and 17, the Australian Council of Learned Academies (ACOLA) released a report that stresses Australian economic growth focus will be on two big Asian nations, India and China as both are the fastest growing economies and one in six of the population living and working in Australia are of Asian origin.
With Asian nations rising as the super-economies of the century ahead, the report, Australia’s Diaspora Advantage: Realising the potential for building transnational business networks with Asia, charts the path to stronger engagement for higher returns.
At the last Census, Australia’s Chinese and Indian Diasporas owned over 45,000 businesses. In the last five years, the number of Chinese-born business owners grew by 40 per cent while Indian-born business owners by 72 per cent. Recent surveys also show, however, that whilst 9.4 per cent of Australian workers are Asian-born, only 4.9 per cent advance into senior management roles.
“Asian communities are driving enterprise and innovation in Australia; using their language skills, cultural knowledge and global networks to connect us to the engines of the modern world,” Prof. John Fitzgerald of ACOLA said.
“It is time for Australia to capture this diversity, dynamism and mobility, and work together to harness our diaspora advantage.”
Professor Fazal Rizvi, Co-Chair of the project’s Expert Working Group, said for Australia to realize its Diaspora advantage, it needs to develop a comprehensive, bi-partisan national approach that builds on successes to date, and the entrepreneurial energies that Asian Australian business communities clearly have.
“We suggest involving the Asian business communities in economic and trade policy development, and connecting business Diasporas with research collaborations for innovation and commercialising ideas. The potential role of the Asian business Diasporas in Australia’s innovation agenda cannot be stressed enough” he said.
“Australia has an opportunity to take a leading international role in understanding how much Diasporas contribute to global growth, and helping our local business Diasporas uses their knowledge, skills and networks to forge critical transnational commercial links.”