At an Australian Business lunch at Australia House in London last Friday, Rann said the “map of global consumption” is shifting east and so must the focus of firms based here.
“By 2025 it will have reached as far as central India,” he told about 150 delegates.
“Forty per cent of global economic activity is now occurring in Asia, and world growth is expected to continue being led by Asia over the next decade.”
Rann told businesses to focus on the opportunities and challenges of what is being coined the “Asian century” but added it didn’t have to be at the expense of business relationships with the UK.
“Embracing Asia does not mean a neglect of the UK. The two are not mutually exclusive,” he told the audience, which included John Burton, Westfield’s director of development, Ken Smith, agent-general for Queensland, Kevin Skipworth, agent-general for WA, and the Hon. Ros Kelly AO and Hon. Shelia McHale.
“Our engagement with our Asian neighbours and with emerging markets in Asia will not distract us from our traditional allies and developed markets.” However, Rann added Australia’s current and future prosperity is directly linked to the Asian growth story.
“We want to go and allow Australia somehow to ride the wave of Asia’s economic transformation. It will take foresight, commitment and courage,” he said.
Rann also paid reference to a White Paper launched in Australia last year, Australia in the Asian Century, which is billed as a new road map for “engagement with our Asian neighbours and with emerging markets in Asia”.
“By 2025, it is likely that four out of the world’s top ten largest economies will be in Asia (China, India, Japan and Indonesia),” he said.
“With figures like these, very soon Asia will not just be the biggest global producer of goods and services, it will also be the biggest global consumer of goods and services.”
Rann also paid tribute to his heritage, saying like a quarter of today’s Aussies as well as Australian prime minister Julia Gillard and Opposition leader Tony Abbott, he was born in the UK, before emigrating to New Zealand, then Australia.
And he said the UK is still one of Australia’s largest sources of tourism – more than 600,000 Brits visit Australia every year and about one million Australians travel to the UK annually.
“We’re all living through an extraordinary period of economic change — the likes of which won’t come again in our lifetimes, perhaps not for several generations. It’s up to all of us to make the most of these opportunities,” he added.