More than just iron ore

It is well-known that Western Australia’s economic success is based on mining, but other industries like agribusiness, tourism, and education are stepping up. This, along with our close ties to Asia, is helping to drive our future economic and social prosperity.

WA is more closely linked to the growing economies of Asia than the other Australian states. Our top 10 merchandise export markets, and our top services export markets are in Asia, and we get more tourists and students from Asia than any other region.

While resources still make up the bulk of our exports, other sectors have started to realise their potential. Agriculture and food are significant export earners for WA, bringing in $8.5 billion in 2016-17, and making up 17 percent of Australia’s agrifood exports.[1]

Service exports are also an important earner, bringing in $6.7 billion over FY2018[2], with tourism and education making important contributions.

The education sector generated about $1.9 billion in export income in 2017, supported an estimated 10,000 full-time jobs, and contributed to increased tourism. The state’s 50,000 international students attracted 1.5 visiting friends and relatives from overseas.[3]

However, there’s vast opportunity to boost our tourism numbers even further from Asia. For example, we can leverage new marketing initiatives such as the ‘quokka-selfie’ posted on Instagram by actor Chris Hemsworth when visiting Rottnest island, which generated over 4.1 million ‘likes’ and turned the eyes of the world to our state.

Importantly, we shouldn’t think of Asia as a single monolithic entity. Within it there are three market groupings: North Asia (China, Japan, South Korea); ASEAN (Southeast Asian nations); and India and the Middle East. Each market has its own dynamics and fortunately for us, they provide diversity to our export markets too. While North Asia, particularly China, accounts for a large proportion of our exports, it’s important that we also recognise the huge potential for growth in the ASEAN and India and Middle East markets.

I’m confident that our close ties to Asia, coupled with our innovative and entrepreneurial spirit, will ensure that we seize the opportunities for our future prosperity.

[1] Western Australia’s Agrifood | Fibre | Fisheries | Forestry Industries 2018, p.17

[2] WA Economic Profile, February 2019, pp. 8-9




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